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Back-to-School Reading Ideas for Grades 3-5

Today’s post is the second in our Summer Reading series from Reading With Pictures volunteer Rosemary Kiladitis. She is a longtime comic book reader, bibliophile, newly minted librarian, and mom of 3. She is a youth literacy advocate who loves reader’s advisory and thinks every classroom library deserves a graphic novel section.

As summer vacation draws to a close and the kids return to school, there’s no reason to put the comics and graphic novels away – in fact, there’s more reason than ever to hit the bookstore and the library and add some of these great reads to your kids’ reading list! Here, we look at some choices for grades 3-5.

I love this age range when it comes to reading. Kids develop a real mastery over comprehension and processing complex ideas, and their imaginations work overtime, making graphic novels a great way to reach this audience.

There’s a big concern over losing readers at this age, particularly boys. The “gender gap” in reading often begins at age 9: text-heavy books can’t compete with video games, television, or the Internet. Boys may not think it’s “cool” to be a reader. The gender gap, left unchecked, can go on to cause school performance issues through high school and college. Introducing graphic novels into your child’s reading repertoire now can generate new interest, with visually interesting material that will keep his interest and send him looking for more!

As always, please enjoy this suggested list of graphic novels for grades 3-5, and feel free to recommend your own choices.

Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm is a great series of books geared toward the grade 3-5 age group. Babymouse is a diva of a young mouse with a wild imagination that leads her into rock star adventures, the Wild West, and outer space. Babymouse speaks with a ‘tween voice, appealing to her audience. Random House’s Babymouse website ( offers printable activities and videos.

A companion character to Babymouse, Squish – also by Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm – is a grade school amoeba who has his own adventures as he navigates his school days. Also set up as a comic strip, Squish includes science facts that will teach readers without relying on heavy text-based information transfer.


Jeff Smith’s award-winning series, Bone, has been on reading lists for years with good reason. They’re accessible characters, roaming in imaginary lands, and getting into all sorts of adventure-related trouble. Three cousins, run out of their home in Boneville, lose and find one another again throughout this 9-book series.

Charise Maricle Harper’s Fashion Kitty gives readers a superheroine who comes by her powers after a fashion-related accident. After gaining her superpowers, Fashion Kitty puts her powers to work not only by helping friends with wardrobe crises, but by addressing issues that will be familiar to this age group, including bullying, self-esteem, and families.

Jarrett Krosoczka’s Lunch Lady series gives kids a school lunch lady who’s also a superhero. Whether she’s finding out who sabotaged the bake sale or battling cyborg substitutes, kids know that Lunch Lady is on the case. The author’s website also offers a printable ‘finish the story’ activity that allows readers to create their own graphic novel.

lunch lady

I hope your readers enjoy these books – watch this space for middle school readers next!