Owly is a children's graphic novel series about a little owl who lives in the woods, He is nice to everyone and tries to become friends with the other forest animals, but some of them are afraid of him. Which is understandable since owls are predators. But Owly does his best to show that he's nice and eventually everyone gets along. These books are extremely cute and Owly is so sweet he'll make your teeth hurt. Parents, you don't need to worry about content with this one.
What makes this series perfect for struggling readers is the fact that there are so few words. Almost all of the information about the story is gained from the artwork, such as the very expressive characters, and all the dialog is done as pictures or symbols. In the panel to the right, Owly's best friend Wormy is saying something. The pictures used are pretty basic; a flying bird and an arrow pointing to a house. How would you read that? I read it as "The bird is flying home." Why? Because even out of context those images are so simple it's easy to interpret them.
Some of the symbols used may be harder for younger readers to understand. In the panel to the left the raccoon is saying "Good luck!" How do I know that? Because a horseshoe, much like a four-leaf clover, is a common symbol of good luck. But a younger reader may not have been exposed to this idea yet. Symbols like this don't appear often, but when they do the context is usually clear enough that the meaning isn't that hard to puzzle out.
So if your child is having trouble reading, or if you just want something cute to read, give the Owly series a try. There are currently 5 volumes (Vol 6 is due out next year):
Vol 1 The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer - Owly meets Wormy and helps track down Wormy's parents. Also, Owly and Wormy befriend a couple of hummingbirds and are sad when they have to leave for the winter.
Vol 2 Just a Little Blue - Owly and Wormy try to help out a picky neighbor by building him a new home.
Vol 3 Flying Lessons - Owly tries to befriend a flying squirrel and learn how to fly.
Vol 4 A Time to be Brave - A new animal in the forest is scaring all of Owly's friends and it's up to him to prove that there's nothing to be afraid of.
Vol 5 Tiny Tales - A collection of short stories about Owly and his friends.
In addition to the main graphic novel series which is drawn in black and white, there are a couple of full color easy books:
Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter! - The pair buy flowers in the hopes of attracting butterflies and are upset when caterpillars show up and start munching on the plants.
Owly and Wormy, Bright Lights and Starry Nights - Owly and Wormy go camping so they can better see the stars, but the night is full of scary noises and they lose their telescope.
Something neat that's offered on the author's website is a free downloadable Lesson Plan. These activities use the Owly books to teach about things such as icons, facial expressions, story telling, and drawing. Right now there are only 12 activities, but there may be more in the future.
Another great thing is the Owly As... section. Check it out to see Owly drawn as all kinds of things. He's even adorable as Darth Vader.