Graphic Novels: Is It Really Reading?

The other day I spent some time in Barnes & Noble just browsing, picking up books, and flipping through pages aimlessly. It was so nice! 

One section caught me a little off guard in the children’s section, a whole wall of graphic novels! My first thought was that to my knowledge, there weren’t really enough graphic novels out there for a whole wall of these books, so I explored more. There were the classics, Dog Man, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Captain Underpants. And then there were more. 

The Secret Garden as a graphic novel. The Babysitter’s Club. A modern telling of Little Women as a graphic novel. 

There may be some out there who have a “bah humbug” attitude about graphic novels in the hands of children, “It’s just all pictures! It’s not real reading!” they claim. But flipping through the books on the shelf, I was so excited about this new phenomenon! 

First, it’s showing the world that graphic novels aren’t just for boys. When I was growing up, only boys read comic books/ graphic novels. It was such a boy thing. But now the options of books for both boys and girls are endless! Books are gender-neutral by default, but with the vast options available now, there’s certainly a book for everyone to connect with. 

Graphic novels are an incredible resource for reluctant readers. The pictures do a great job of helping tell the story, leaving fewer words on the page. For struggling readers or readers with anxiety, fewer words on the page is extremely helpful. They are also smaller, bite-sized wording on a page instead of paragraph after paragraph like a chapter book. It’s so much less overwhelming and feels doable to read one speech bubble and move on to the next. 

from The Tryout by Christina Soontornvat

Are graphic novels still reading though? 

Oh, absolutely! Reading is reading, my friends! There are words on the page that brains are working hard to piece together and figure out. Their brains are working hard to take in the input of information between the pictures and the words on the page and create a story in their minds. It is absolutely reading! 

Is there an age limit for reading graphic novels? No. Absolutely not. Reading is reading!! So if you see a high school-aged kid reading a graphic novel, celebrate the reading happening!

Graphic novels are a great resource in the reading world and I am so excited that they are gaining more and more traction as time goes on. Yay for graphic novels! 

Be honest, what are your thoughts on graphic novels? 

Final Book List for 2023

My final number for books read in 2023 came in at 58 books. I always set a goal to read 50 books in a year, so accomplishing 58 felt great! Here is my list of books read. Please note that not all of these books will be appropriate for everyone. Please do your research on whether a book is right for you or not. Please also feel free to comment to ask about any particular book, I’d love to chat about it and give insight.


👂🏼 Audiobook
📕 Physical book
📘 eReader

1The Summer I Turned PrettyJenny Han👂🏼
2Crying in H MartMichelle Zauner👂🏼
3The Case of the Missing MarquessNancy Springer👂🏼
4The Hotel NantucketElin Hilderbrand👂🏼
5The Last Chance LibraryFreya Sampson👂🏼
6House of GoldNatasha Solomons📕
7A Court of Thorns and RosesSarah J. Maas📕👂🏼
8Hiroshima DiaryMichihiko Hachiya👂🏼
9It Ends With UsColleen Hoover👂🏼
10Thank You For ListeningJulia Whelan👂🏼
11Mad HoneyJodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan👂🏼
12HitchhikersBernard Poduska📕
13Beach ReadEmily Henry📕
14A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and MayhemManda Collins👂🏼
15EdenbrookeJulianne Donaldson📕
16The Beach ClubElin Hilderbrand👂🏼
17Maybe SomedayColleen Hoover📕
18Maybe NotColleen Hoover📕
19A Corner of the UniverseAnn M. Martin👂🏼
20Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneJ. K. Rowling👂🏼
21The Tattooist of AuschwitzHeather Morris👂🏼
22It Starts With UsColleen Hoover👂🏼
23Maybe NowColleen Hoover📕
24Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsJ.K. Rowling👂🏼
25We Were DreamersSimu Liu👂🏼
26Tomorrow and Tomorrow and TomorrowGabrielle Zevin📕
27Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanJ. K. Rowling👂🏼
28Enders ShadowOrson Scott Card📕👂🏼
29We Were LiarsE. Lockhart📕
30The Bookish Life of Nina HillAbbi Waxman👂🏼
31The Revised Fundamentals of CaregivingJohnathan Evison👂🏼
32Turtles All The Way DownJohn Green📘
33Harry Potter and the Goblet of FireJ. K. Rowling👂🏼
34The UnhoneymoonersChristina Lauren📕
35Britt Marie Was HereFredrick Backman👂🏼
36Hello BeautifulAnn Napolitano📕👂🏼
37Beneath a Scarlet SkyMark Sullivan📕
38A Place to Hang the MoonKate Albus👂🏼
39The Rent CollectorCameron Wright👂🏼
40This is Your Life, Harriet Chance!Johnathan Evison📕
41The Last Thing He Told MeLaura Dave📕
42The Ballad of Songbirds and SnakesSuzanne Collins👂🏼
43Good Man, DaltonKaren McQuestion📕
44The MeasureNikki Erlick👂🏼
45The Pumpkin Spice CafeLaurie Gilmore📕
46Demon CopperheadBarbara Kingsolver👂🏼
47One For the Murphy’sLynda Mullaly Hunt👂🏼
48Tokyo Ever AfterEmiko Jean👂🏼
49Forever, InterruptedTaylor Jenkins Reid👂🏼
50Tokyo DreamingEmiko Jean👂🏼
51The Mostly Invisible BoyA. J. Vanderhorst📕
52Counting the CostJill Duggar👂🏼
53The Cheat SheetSarah Adams👂🏼
54The Statistical Probability of Love at First SightJennifer E. Smith👂🏼
55Resting Scrooge FaceMeghan Quinn📘
56Little Fires EverywhereCeleste Ng📘
57A Return to ChristmasChris Heimerringer📘
58Found in a BookshopStephanie Butland📘

I cannot wait to see what 2024 has in store for my reading journey! What books would you recommend I add to my reading list for the year?

A Post to be Proud Of

Writing previously about our most-read posts in 2023 had me reflecting on past posts I’ve written for HonorsGradU. I’ve been a writer on this blog since 2019, so with four years of blog posts floating around this website, I have plenty of work to sift through. So, as humble as possible, I’d like to share my top five favorite posts that I have written for this blog.

Helicopter Mom was one of the very first blog posts I ever wrote and still is one of my favorites. I think about this post often and remind myself of the topics I learned this day and I continue in motherhood and teaching. I also wrote Helicopter Mom Part II a few years later and felt like it was also a great reflection post for me.

A little background on this post… I initially had this post written in February 2020 and scheduled to post in March 2020. However, once the COVID shutdown started, I quickly realized that I needed to modify my original writings to better fit the situation. It ended up becoming our most-read post in 2020, and for good reason.

This isn’t necessarily a post, but a page on our blog that leads to several other pages. This page has been my pride and joy since I started it. Several times I have sent the link to this page to friends and family when they ask me questions about sensory bins and how or when to start them or when they want more information on play-based learning. It has been such a work in progress over the last several years and I am proud of that!

The story of Mr. Meyers is one that I find myself often thinking about. It’s a story about teachers and the influence and lessons they teach us, beyond just math, writing, and reading.

I had a group of friends over the other day and our discussion led to children’s activities and where to start. I ended up not only sending them my page on early childhood resources, but I also giving them several books and book recommendations on the subject. I truly belive that most of life’s problems can be solved by reading a book!

There have been many blog posts over the last several years, I could make this list much, much longer but I won’t gloat too much 😉

Do you have any favorite posts from HonorsGradU? Tell us in the comments!

Christmas Book Lists of Christmas Past

I’ve been working on my 2023 Christmas Picture Book list for almost a month now, there are SO many good Christmas picture books out there and this is my favorite post I write all year! Picture books are magical year-round, but for some reason, the magic seems to double around Christmas. We’re not quite ready to roll out the red carpet for our 2023 list, so to hold us all off, here are all of the links to past year’s Christmas picture book lists.

Find the very first Christmas book list here:

My second year of writing a Christmas picture book lists almost felt wrong because it seemed like so many incredible holidays and celebrations were left out. Thus came the Christmas Book List as well as several other lists of holiday books!

By my third year of writing my Christmas Book lists, it felt like a tradition.

Last year’s Christmas book list almost felt like it couldn’t be topped, but maybe this year I’ll say the same thing.

Stay tuned! The Christmas Picture Books of 2023 will be hitting the blog soon! Which books are you hoping to see on the list?

But Have You Tried Reading a Book?

If your students struggle to be kind to one another… have you tried reading them a picture book? 

If you have a student having a hard time sharing… have you tried reading them a book? 

A child in your classroom has a lot of anxiety around taking tests… but have you tried reading them a book? 

Books are magical. Books are incredible. Books can teach our students more than we will ever fully comprehend. Authors and illustrators have a talent for speaking directly to children in a way they understand. 

If you’re working on being a friend in the classroom, have you tried reading The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig? 

If you want to teach your class about leadership, have you read Sophia Valdez, Future Prez by Andrea Beaty?

If you have particularly worrisome kids, have you tried reading Ruby Finds a Worry? By Tom Percival? 

When your students are struggling or need some extra love or help, can I offer some advice?

Read them a book.

Chapter Books for Grades 10-12

Chapter books for high school aged! I love this question! 

It can be so tricky suggesting chapter books to this age range because it’s an age where reading gets a bad rap and required reading can take up a lot of time, leaving less for “fun reading.” (I put this in quotations because the texts that were required reading when I was in school were some of the best books I’ve ever read! But many dislike these stories simply because it was required.) 

Here are a few fun chapter books and series for the teenage reader in your life. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Also notable, To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

The cool thing about the Harry Potter series is that the first few books are fantastic for late elementary/ early middle school, and then as the books go on they grow with the reader as the later books in the series are great for a high school reader.

Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

If you’ve ever found a friend who has also read both books, I’m sure you had a deep discussion on which book was your favorite too! In my opinion, I think Ender’s Shadow was better than Ender’s Game. And if you have a reader that is really into this series, there are plenty of books and side stories that Card has written in this universe!

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

It’ll make you laugh and cry within a matter of minutes.

The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

Also notable, The Orphan Keeper by Camron Wright

Chapter Books for Grades 7-9

I love giving a good book recommendation. My dream job would be an elementary school librarian where I can spend my days suggesting good books to early readers.

Here are a few chapter books for grades 7-9. These are good for reading aloud in the classroom (yes, you can still do read-aloud at this age!) or for them to read personally.

Star Girl by Jerry Spinelli

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien