I know a thing or two about struggling readers, both as a classroom teacher and as a mom, and one of my favorite tools for helping kids delve into reading is offering it up as a way to get more interaction with a current obsession. Sometimes that means putting a car magazine in the hands of a young car enthusiast. Sometimes it means offering up stories about a beloved popular character, and that’s just where you can use your child’s enthusiasm for some of the great kids’ content on Netflix to encourage reading.
Here are some shows geared toward the middle grade crowd that have book counterparts.
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The gorgeous artwork you can see here on the cover of the first Hilda graphic novel carries over to the show. It’s an absolute visual delight to take in, and it has plenty of appeal to both fantasy and nature lovers.
I was excited to share She-Ra with my daughter because I loved her so much back in the 80s. The reboot of She-Ra is pretty different, but in a good way. If your kids become obsessed with She-Ra, as my daughter is, you can find both chapter books and graphic novels about her adventures.
For those parents who, like me, often watch television alongside their children, The Dragon Prince is one of those kids’ shows that are actually pretty pleasant to watch. The animation is beautiful, the characters are complex, and the plot has a slow burn reveal that unfurls over seasons, much as adult show dramatic plots tend to do. You can find Dragon Prince books in both chapter book and graphic novel format.
Anne with an “E”
You probably know that Netflix’s love-it-or-hate-it Anne with an E is based on the Anne of Greene Gables series, but you might not have known that there’s a graphic novel edition of the beloved classic available now.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
The book series about the precocious, resilient Beaudelaire children and Count Olaf’s dastardly deeds is among my all-time favorite read aloud experiences with my children. It was such a treat for us to watch the book-inspired series on Netflix and talk about how things were changed for the Netflix series, why those choices might have been made, and how well the tv characters matched the mental picture of the characters we formed from reading the book.
If your kids enjoy Harry Potter, they’ll see some remarkable similarities to the boarding school for young witches in The Worst Witch.
Okay, it’s fair to say that Captain Underpants doesn’t have a ton of appeal for adults. But in my house, Dav Pilkey, the author of the series, is an absolute saint for creating books (including the Dog Man series) that helped my daughter become an interested, independent reader. Read and watch on, kiddo.
The title sounds pretty scary, I know. But somehow this story of middle schoolers navigating a zombie/monster apocalypse isn’t really too scary and manages to strike notes of humor and adventure. The books are in chapter book format, but with lots of pictures, they’re also a good bridge between graphic novels and more wordy books.
I must have read at least thirty Babysitters Club books when I was a kid. The books about entrepreneurial girls felt so empowering to me, and that sentiment holds up across generations. The classic chapter books are still available out there, though the covers have been updated, and now graphic novel versions of the first several books are available as well.