36 Graphic Novels to Use as Companion Texts
Teaching with graphic novels is a great way to keep students engaged. One of my goals as a reading instructor is to entertain my students. Yes, that’s right…I said “ENTERTAIN” my students!
I am not a tablet…or a computer game…and definitely not a cell phone, so
why would they want to give their attention to me?!?
I find it to be worth my time to do what I can to keep their focus. One of my favorite ways to do this (right after speaking in fun voices and exaggerating with gestures) is through choosing graphic novels as companion texts.
If your state has adopted the Common Core State Standards or an adapted version of these standards, you may be looking for ways to teach the integration of knowledge and ideas.
Again, my favorite genre to pull texts from is graphic novels.
Graphic novels are loaded with advantages
for all of your students!
- Graphic Novels make decoding and comprehension simpler through pairing the text and the pictures (which is an advantage for English Language Learners).
- The vocabulary tends to be more advanced.
- Lower level reading is bridged with upper level reading in graphic novels, with many scaffolding opportunities.
- Graphic Novels present challenging concepts in a way that is more easily understood.
- Examples of onomatopoeia, metaphors and idioms are often found in Graphic Novels.
- Events and people are easily brought to life in Graphic Novels.
- Kids love them because they are entertaining.
- I love them because they are engaging and inspiring!
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My favorite resource to use as a guide for teaching with graphic novels is Wham! Teaching with Graphic Novels Across the Curriculum by William Brassa, Gary Moorman and Carla Meyer.
This book provides ways to select appropriate graphic novels, techniques to achieve the goals of the Common Core State Standards, as well as instructional guidelines for you to maximize student knowledge of content.
To assist you with your selection of graphic novels, I have compiled a list of some suggestions that I have divided by subject.
- Ghosts of the Civil War By Cheryl Harness — A girl from the present, Lindsey, takes a walk back in time to the Civil War. Her escort is a ghost named Willie Lincoln.
2. Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel by C. M. Butzer — This is a graphic novel version of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. It is a detailed account of the Battle of Gettysburg, the national movement to create a memorial there, and the quiet day in 1863 when Lincoln delivered his galvanizing speech.
3. Gettysburg: The Graphic History of America’s Most Famous Battle and the Turning Point of The Civil War by Wayne Vansant — In this powerful graphic history, Wayne Vansant describes the history leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg.
4. The Battle of Gettysburg by Michael Burgen — This story of the Battle of Gettysburg, the three-day battle that was the turning point in the Civil War, is written in a graphic-novel format.
5. The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln by Kay Melchisedechi Olson — The story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the escape and death of his assassin, John Wilkes Booth, is written in this graphic-novel format.
6. The Civil Rights Freedom Train by Bentley Boyd — In this full-color graphic novel you will find exciting biographies of Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Thurgood Marshall.
7. I am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer — A biography of Abraham Lincoln is presented in a picture book format.
8. Slavery’s Storm by Bentley Boyd — Chester the Crab’s comix make history into an adventure for reluctant readers! “Slavery’s Storm” tells the story of Nat Turner’s Revolt, Dred Scott’s legal battle and John Brown’s Raid as the gathering political storm clouds darken America in the days before the Civil War.
9. Martin Luther King, Jr: Great Civil Rights Leader by Jennifer Fandel and Brian Bascle — A biography telling the life story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his leadership in the civil rights movement to stop racism, segregation, and discrimination in the United States is captured in this graphic novel.
10. Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by Michael Martin — Harriet Tubman and her heroics of assisting slaves in the Underground Railroad are told in this graphic novel.
11. Go West Young Crab! by Bentley Boyd — Chester the Crab tells this story of the Oregon Trail, the gold rush in California, the Chinese workers who were building the Transcontinental Railroad, and what happens when George Custer counts 800 Sioux warriors and ends up facing 3,500.
12. Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Connie Colwell Miller — Rosa Park’s 1955 arrest for not giving up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, and the boycott it sparked is written in this graphic novel format.
13. American Symbols By Bentley Boyd — Which words were added to the Pledge of Allegiance decades after it was written? What color was the White House before it was burned? How did American students help pay for the Statue of Liberty? Who carved Mount Rushmore? You’ll learn about these and other famous American icons in this funny, colorful graphic novel
14. The Creation of the U. S. Constitution by Michael Burgan — The story of the debates, disagreements, and compromises that led to the formation of the U.S. Constitution during the Constitutional Convention of 1787 are written in graphic-novel format.
15. I am George Washington by Brad Meltzer — We can all be heroes. That’s the inspiring message of this New York Times Bestselling picture book biography series from historian and author Brad Meltzer. Learn all about George Washington, America’s first president.
16. The Top-Secret Adventure of John Darragh, The Revolutionary War Spy by Amanda Doering Tourville and Peter Roop — In this suspenseful story based on accounts of the Darragh family’s spying activities for General Washington, young John undertakes a dangerous mission to deliver a message to the American army.
17. The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Jessica Gunderson — The dramatic story of Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the unmapped American west is explained in graphic-novel format.
18. The Boston Tea Party by Matt Doeden — The events are told of the Boston Tea Party, one of the acts by American Patriots that led to the American Revolution. Written in graphic-novel format.
19. Paul Revere’s Ride By Xavier Niz — The story of Paul Revere’s ride to Lexington in April 1775 to warn colonists in Massachusetts of approaching British troops is told in a graphic novel format.
20. The Boston Massacre by Michael Burgan — The Boston Massacre, the event when the American colonists believed that they had been treated and taxed unfairly for years by Great Britain, leading to a clashing with British troops is described in this story.
21. The Wright Brothers and the Airplane by Xavier Niz and Keith Williams — The story is told of how Wilbur and Orville Wright developed, tested, and successfully flew the first powered airplane.
22. Discovery Channel’s Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Predators By Neo Edmund and Joe Rusha and Robert Greenberger — Nothing captures the imagination of kids like the prehistoric world of Dinosaurs, and this book features all their favorites! Velicoraptors, Triceratops, and T-Rex all come to life in this exciting and groundbreaking new graphic novel!
23. Manga Guide to Electricity by Kazuhiro Fujitaki — Rereko is just your average high-school girl from Electopia, the land of electricity, but she’s totally failed her final electricity exam! Now she has to go to summer school on Earth. And this time, she has to pass.
24. The Shocking World of Electricity with Max Axiom by Liam O’Donnell and Charles Barnett III — The adventures of Max Axiom as he explains the science behind electricity including how it is produced and how electricity is distributed is written in graphic-novel format.
25. Isaac Newton and the Laws of Motion By Andrea Gianopoulos and Phil Miller — Isaac Newton developed the laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Written in graphic-novel format.
26. Discovery Channel’s Top 10 Deadliest Sharks by Joe Brusha — This groundbreaking graphic novel examines the world’s deadliest sharks and sheds light on their true nature, refuting the notion that they are mindless killing machines, but, in reality, are among the most amazing and well-adapted creatures on earth.
27. Animal Planet: World’s Most Dangerous Animals by Joe Brusha and Neo Edmond — Grizzly Bears, giant Salt Water Crocodiles, rogue Lions… we don’t occupy a place on their list of usual prey items and rarely do we cross paths with these deadly predators. Still, on occasion, the most dangerous animals in the wild set their sights on humans and when they do the results can be devastating!
28. First in Space By James Vining — Extensively researched, First in Space is based on the true-life adventures of Ham, a chimpanzee the Americans trained for the first sub orbital flight. The story follows his training and experiences through the launch, as well as those of the other chimps and trainers involved.
29. The Adventures of BB: Learning About Space by Abdallah Alaili — n this issue BB discovers space and the planets in the solar system. It also contains several experiments that help understand some concepts, like day night alternation, the effects of sun heat on planets, the role of atmosphere.
30. The Manga Guide to the Universe by Kenji Ishikawa and Kiyoshi Kawabata — Join Kanna, Kanta, Yamane, and Gloria as they explore our solar system, the Milky Way, and faraway galaxies in search of the universe’s greatest mysteries: dark matter, cosmic expansion, and the Big Bang itself.
31. The Solid Truth About the States of Matter with Max Axiom by Agnieszka Biskup — Max Axiom, Super Scientist, shares the solid truth about the different states of matter.
32. Fractions in Disguise by Edward Einhorn and David Clark — When a valuable fraction goes missing, George Cornelius Factor (a.k.a. GCF) vows to track it down. Knowing that the villainous Dr. Brok likes to disguise his ill-begotten fractions, GCF invents a Reducer—a tool that strips away the disguise, reducing the fraction and revealing its true form.
33. The Lost Key: A Mystery With Whole Numbers by Melinda Thielbar — At Sifu Faizas Kung Fu School, kids learn to be strong and fast. Joy, Adam, Sam, and Amy are surprised when the key to the school is stolen – as well as all their kung fu gear. Now theyll have to use all kinds of calculations – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – to figure out the clues, follow the thieves, and find . . . The Lost Key.
34. The Ancient Formula: A Mystery with Fractions by Melinda Thielbar — A puzzle left behind by Sifu Faiza’s grandfather has everyone stumped. A circle divided into wedges shows part of the formula for an ancient medicine. But some of the wedges are blank, and no one knows how or why the original formula disappeared! Joy, Adam, Amy, and Sam will have to use clues—and fractions—to discover the truth about . . . The Ancient Formula.
35. Castaway Code: Sequencing in Action by Felicia Law and Steve Way — The castaways face new dangers as they leave the safety of the beach and explore more of the mysterious island. They also discover strange messages that were left for them on the sand. Readers will be yearning to find out who is trying to contact them.
36. Fraction Fun by David Adler and Nancy Tobin — This book about fractions takes the fear out of math and puts the fun back in.
There are many more graphic novels available than what are on this list. Do you have some favorites you would like to share? Please share your comments in the section below.
Also view a fluency activity in How to Transform a Graphic Novel into a Reader’s Theater Script.