Graphic Novel Read-Alikes If Your Kid Loves Dog Man and Others
One of the first books that really got my son engaged in reading was Dog Man. With its funny storyline and accessible graphic format, kids of all ages love that zany half-man, half-dog police hero and his hilarious crew of friends and foes.
Comics and graphic novels are often less popular with parents and teachers than with the kids who read them. Now, they're finally getting the recognition they deserve. In 2020, Jerry Craft's New Kid made history when it won the prestigious Newbery Award for excellence in children's literature, the first graphic novel to do so.
And much to the surprise of naysayers, researchers are learning that reading comics and graphic novels actually helps kids develop literacy skills. Graphic novels and comics:
- Use more sophisticated vocabulary than traditional formats, on average. (My son, who reads his Big Nate comics aloud unless asked not to, recently sounded out the words "smoldering" and "drudgery".)
- Enhance reading comprehension and narrative skills.
- Help kids with learning disabilities. They also help kids who are English language learners make sense of the words on the page.
- Motivate children to love books!
So what do you do when your kid has read all the books in their favourite series? The answer is, find another! However, this can be much easier said than done. To help readers, parents and educators, we compiled a list of sure-thing graphic novel recommendations for fans of Dog Man, Big Nate, Amulet, Pokémon Adventures and the books of Raina Telgemeier.
While you can check out the full list, (and remember to bookmark it!), I have listed a few that come personally recommended. These are the favourites of my own graphic novel-loving Dog Man Fanboy.
Bird & Squirrel: On the Run by James Burks
Unlikely best friends Bird and Squirrel are always getting themselves into dangerous situations. Fortunately, Bird's sense of adventure and Squirrel's careful preparedness complement each other. Together, they can outsmart their enemies. With smaller print, more detailed illustrations, and a faster-paced plot, this graphic novel series is a little more advanced than Dog Man, and may be preferred by readers who are a little bit older. After this one, look for other Bird & Squirrel books in the same series.
Catwad: It's Me by Jim Benton
Possibly inspired by Grumpy Cat, Catwad is a grouchy feline who lives with his best friend. Blurmp, the friend, is a lot happier but a lot less smart. It reads more like collections of comics than a graphic novel, but its gut-splitting punch lines and gross-out humour are sure to appeal to kids. There are now four Catwad books, with hopefully more to come.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
The first in an award-winning series that’s popular with younger readers. This short graphic novel chronicles the underwater adventures of Narwhal and his best friend, a jellyfish named Jelly. The simple illustrations and shorter stories make this a good pick for newly independent readers. Narwhal and Jelly have even more fun in the other books in the series.
Sparks! by Ian Boothby; Illustrated by Nina Matsumoto
Cats don't get enough credit. If they want to be taken seriously, they have to dress up in an elaborate mechanical dog suit. Fortunately, this is no problem for super-smart August and heroic Charlie. Together, in their doggy disguise, they take on an alien villain to save humankind. Sparks! combines the clear, colourful illustrations that kids find so appealing with an exciting, funny story, making this a graphic novel that kids will love. After they've finished this one, look for the sequel.
Plants vs. Zombies: Lawnmageddon by Paul Tobin
This is the first in a funny, action-packed series based on the Plants vs. Zombies video game. A great tie-in for gamers, it's about a group of villagers and plants who join forces to fight off a zombie invasion of their town. And if your kid likes this one, you can be happy because there are a whole lot more.
Which graphic novels are a hit with your kids? Let us know in the comments!