Dungeons and Dragons has taken the world by storm! I am sure that I am not the first to mention this game to you, so let’s learn more about D&D and what Dungeons and Dragons books are the best, starting with middle grade books and continuing to YA and nonfiction.
First published in 1974 and created by Gary Gygax, Dungeons and Dragons was a fantastical take on a wargame that used miniature figures to represent military formations. Now, it is published by Wizards of the Coast, and it has grown!
This role-playing game, or RPG, has been the foundation for video games, books, podcasts, and many other RPG (role-playing game) systems through the years. You may have even seen the movie that came out in early 2023!
Dungeons and Dragons is a game that relies heavily on storytelling and imagination. A dungeon master (DM) or a game master (GM) creates a story, or campaign, for the players to exist and play within. Players create a character that fits the world and the story, and together, they move the story forward.
While the GM creates the villains, the monsters, and anyone else the players might meet, the other rule enforcer of the game is the dice. Dice of many sides are used to determine if an action is successful, for example, rolling a 20 on a 20-sided die is a critical success while a 1 is a critical failure. In fact, the 20-sided die is so well known for its use in D&D, that it is often the symbol for many D&D properties!
But you clicked on this article to learn about D&D through books! Here are some of my favorites that cover a range of topics related to the game. My hope is that they demystify Dungeons & Dragons for you and your reader!
Dungeons and Dragons Books: Middle Grade
Just Roll with It created by Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie
Maggie is a newly minted sixth grader embarking on middle school. Not to fear, she has her trusty 20-sided dice at her side to help her make decisions. Maggie struggles with anxiety and uses games to cope with the new struggles of starting a new grade and making friends.
Maggie’s story is incredibly relatable. This graphic novel felt so real to me as Maggie struggled to make friends and worry about her parents’ approval. I wish I had this book when I was going through middle school!
Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Club: Roll Call written by Molly Knox Ostertag, Illustrated by Xanthe Bouma
Jess and Olivia have been making their own fantasy world since they met in 3rd grade. Now they have their own D&D campaign, just the two of them. But when a third person wants to join, Jess finds herself at odds with Olivia who wants to open their world to more players.
This story felt true to life. Sharing a friend is always hard, but when you’ve created something together it feels even harder. I loved the writing and art of this graphic novel. I’m excited to see this series continue!
Dungeons & Dragons: Dungeon Academy: No Humans Allowed! written by Madeleine Roux, Illustrated by Tim Probert
Zelli attends Dungeon Academy but just can’t seem to get the knack of her monster classes. She also has a secret, she is a human! She was adopted and raised by a loving minotaur family but has always wondered about where she came from. One day Zelli encounters a human hero in a book that looks a lot like her and she embarks on a quest to find her biological family.
I loved the premise of this book and the message! It was a heartwarming story of chosen family and the importance of being true to yourself. While set in a fantasy world, readers will still relate to Zelli’s journey to make friends and find herself! Zelli’s story keeps going into a second book and a graphic novel.
Dungeon Critters created by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter
This graphic novel features a group of adventuring creatures on a quest through dungeons and danger. There is an evil plant conspiracy and these four adventurers are ready. They must attend fancy balls, trust each other and fight for what is right. Beautiful art and a compelling story makes this book a wonderful read!
Spellbinders: The Not-So-Chosen One by Andrew Auseon
Ben moved 6 months ago but doesn’t feel at home in his new town. He left his friends behind and their long running role playing game, but he has been working on the next session for when he gets back to them. But when Ben is confronted by the fact that his friends have moved on without him, he feels stuck between worlds. Which is where Niara of Lux finds him and convinces him to come on her quest to protect her world.
This book challenges the reader to contend with the fantasy world and the real world. Ben is faced with a decision between a world of his own making where he can control what happens and the real world.
Complete the Quest: The Poisonous Library by Brian McLachlan
A cross between a choose-your-own adventure book and a graphic novel, this book brings the reader into the story. You pick the heroes, what they do and where they go. There are colorful maps, funny narration and puzzles to solve. It’s a short, self-guided RPG, perfect for one reader or a few players working together!
Dungeons and Dragons Books: YA (Ages 13+)
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves: The Druid’s Call by E.K. Johnston
Doric has always been different. She stands out among the elves she lives with but she is starting to understand how her differences make her special. She joins an order of warriors who protect nature and it is here that Doric comes to find who she is meant to be.
This book was released right before the movie came out, but I didn’t get around to reading it until recently. The backstory of a character is important in D&D and it was great to get Doric’s! You don’t have to see the movie to understand the book, it is a stand-alone story!
The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins by Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Carey Pietsch
LGBTQ, Language, mature themes
Join Merle, Magnus and Taako on their many-volumed quest to gather relics of power and protect their world from a growing evil. Guaranteed there will be shenanigans, puns, and general mayhem!
This graphic novel series is based on a podcast by the same name. Three brothers and their dad play D&D and it’s just wonderful. While there are somemature topics and language, the story is absolutely wonderful and I have every book in the series so far!
Dungeons and Dragons Books: Nonfiction Player’s Guides
Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook (Core Rulebook) by Dungeons & Dragons
There are many books that are helpful to a D&D player, rulebooks, monster manuals and dungeon master guides, but this is square one when it comes to getting into D&D. There have been many editions over the years, but the one you’ll find on most bookstore shelves is the 5th edition, also called 5e. These are the basics, the book that every player needs to get started. It will walk you through character creation, world building and gameplay.
Characters & Quests (Dungeons & Dragons): A Young Adventurer’s Workbook for Creating a Hero and Telling Their Tale by Sarra Scherb
I thought this was a fabulous alternative to the player handbook! Almost like a guided journal, this book helps the reader to create a character and a world. It’s a great book for a young person who is interested in playing D&D!
There are a whole series of books to go with this workbook. They will fill out monsters, magic, locations and items to help bring your world and campaign to life!
Getting involved in a D&D campaign can be as easy as sitting down with friends, some dice and a couple of books. At the core of D&D is a desire to tell a good story, but there are many people who have been doing this a while, so you can rely on them to help you get started.
Check out your school for clubs of teachers and students who play. Libraries are also a great resource, a few in my area help to connect players and host weekend games. Local game stores are a good place to ask questions and find resources. They often host their own D&D events and while these may not be age appropriate, they probably know who else in the area hosting games for younger players.
Best of luck and happy rolling!
D& D Starter Kit