Graphic novels entice kids into stories with illustrated comics and compelling plots told primarily through dialogue. I love that kids (mine included) get excited to read and READ and read with graphic novels.
Want to get your kids reading more? Try these best comics and graphic novels.
And don’t worry — there are tons of benefits to reading graphic novels. Read those here. (Inference, prediction, and more!)
Teachers, check out these content-rich graphic novels you’ll want to use in the classroom.
The Best Graphic Novels for Kids
Zoe and Robot – Let’s Pretend by Ryan Sias (ages 5 – 7)
Zoe really wants Robot to understand how to pretend in this cute first graphic novel from Balloon Toons!
Barry’s Best Buddy by Renee Frenh (ages 5 – 7)
I LOVE this book and it’s many clever details. Polarhog takes his grumpy friend, Barry the Bird, for a walk. The walk and surprise at the end will entertain your kids – and you, too.
The Real Poop on Pigeons! by Kevin McCloskey (ages 6 – 8)
When this engaging early reader book shows a man saying how he doesn’t like pigeons, kids dressed up like pigeons tell him how much more there is to know — besides that they poop all over. (Kids love poop in any story!) We learn how fasts pigeons can fly (faster than a car!), how they carried the first airmail, that they are in the same family as doves, and the many wild varieties of pigeons made by breeders, . . . The fun facts are actually fun — Picasso named his daughter after pigeons and the Dodo bird is a pigeon. Who knew!? Readers will be as convinced as the man in this story that pigeons are pretty wonderful but the end. Not like squirrels. Now those are pests. 🙂
A Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray (ages 6 – 8)
A mix of groan-worthy penguin jokes and cool penguin facts, this is a delightful nonfiction graphic novel for beginning readers. The illustrations often answer the questions posed by the narrator penguin and are almost always silly.
Gryphons Aren’t So Great by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost (ages 3+)
Prepare to laugh at this silly friendship story. The knight’s horse, Edward, gets jealous when his knight becomes enamored with a gryphon. When the gryphon takes the knight too high and too fast and Edward saves him. (Proving gryphons aren’t all that great!) Look for the step-by-step drawing instructions on the inside covers for drawing a bat, gryphon, knight, and horse.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen AF Venable, Stephanie Yue SERIES (ages 6 – 9)
This is a hilarious early chapter book /graphic novel about a detective who just happens to be a guinea pig and solve mysteries in the pet store.
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey (ages 6 – 8)
I love, love, love this early reader book! It’s a Toon Book Early Reader so you know from the get-go that it’s going to be cartoon images, but you won’t know how the author makes worms seem so fascinating. He does this with eye-popping illustrations and one sentence of text per page that explain something about the worm — sometimes he has kids asking questions which the worm answers. He painted on recycled grocery bags which makes for a gorgeous, earthy feeling throughout. I just can’t say enough good things about this short little book!
One of our favorite graphic novels, Zita the Spacegirl, is a true friend who not only saves her best friend but the galaxy!
Mal and Chad by Stephen McCranie (ages 7 – 10)
A hilarious graphic novel book series about Mal, a young inventor, and his best sidekick, his dog, Chad. Perfect for growing readers and reminds me a little of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes.
Bird and Squirrel on Ice by James Burks (ages 7 – 10) SERIES
Okay, this might be my new favorite graphic novel series– it’s absolutely hysterical! In this first book, Bird’s over-confident, laissez-faire character pairs perfectly with Squirrel’s logical, fearful one. The duo crash land in the Penguin world where Bird is thought to be the “Chosen One” meant to save the penguins from the Great Whale. Absolutely everything is pitch-perfect — the illustrations, the characters, the dialogue, and the pacing. I highly recommend it.
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso SERIES (ages 6 – 9)
What a hilarious character! We love this graphic novel about Salem Hyde, an impulsive but very cute little witch who gets confused between spelling words and casting spells. It’s like Calvin turned into a witch girl. Fantastic!
Ninjago “Warriors of Stone” by Greg Farshtey and Jolyon Yates
(ages 6 – 9)
Another fun comic adventure with Jay, Cole, Zane, Kai, and Sensei. They find themselves in a world of stone — even the people are made of stone. If you have a Ninjago or LEGO fan, they’ll love this series of graphic novels.
Babymouse #1 Queen of the World! SERIES by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm (ages 6 – 9)
These crack-you-up stories will resonate with young readers as they follow Babymouse through her days at school and at home, frustrations with friends, and more.
Hilo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick (ages 8 – 10)
Hilo can’t remember what happened to him before D.J. finds him crashed into the earth. Hilo remembers an evil monster robot, and that he is a robot meant to protect his world from the bad robots — but those robots have followed Hilo to Earth. This ends of a cliff-note but is worth it — it’s a great page-turning adventure!
Plants vs. Zombies by Paul Tobin and Ron Chan SERIES (ages 6 – 10)
I wasn’t expecting these books to be so funny in an ironic way that you don’t see in children’s books. Yes, there are zombies and kids with plants trying to kill the zombies (just like the video game) but you’ll be surprised (as I was) to read comic panels like these: a man calling the police saying, “This is a mysterious call” or a woman reading her notebook with the words “no choice” and remarking, “This leaves me no choice,” HA. If your child likes these graphic novels, there are TONS of books in the series.
Owly: The Way Home and The Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton SERIES (ages 5 – 10)
Wordless cartoons tell the adventures of Owly and his new friend Wormy. This is a lovely book for early readers and readers who might be new to English.
Mr. Pants It’s Go Time! by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R.H. Lazzell (ages 6 – 9) SERIES
Mr. Pants really wants to go to laser tag but since he didn’t clean his room, his mom lets his sister (who cleaned her room) pick. Now he’s stuck going to Fairy Princess Dream Factory and when he does get to go play laser tag, it’s not exactly like he imagined. I love the drawing style — simple, bright, and cute — but even better, the story is fun and entertaining. My 9-year old has read this book at least 3 times already.
Dog Man by Dav Pinkey (ages 7 – 10) SERIES
Weird. Quirky. Funny. I think all three describe this new graphic novel from the creator of Captain Underpants. In this story, a police officer and a dog are joined together — the top from the dog, the bottom from the officer to make: Dog Man. Dog Man solves crimes and has adventures, the likes of which will entertain you for hours.
This is SUCH a fantastic graphic novel series for kids! It all begins when the two siblings and their mom move into a creepy inherited house after losing their father. They discover a magical amulet that warns the kid of the danger. But soon the siblings will be on an epic adventure to save their mom in an underground world of elves, demons, robots, and talking animals. (You’re probably going to want the boxed set— kids LOVE this series!)
Wallace the Brave by Will Henry (ages 8 – 12)
If you like the humor in Calvin and Hobbes, you must read Wallace the Brave. It’s totally hilarious. You’ll laugh your way through stories of Wallace’s life on the school bus, on the playground, playing with friends, hanging with his fisherman dad, and more. I’m smiling just writing this as I think back on Wallace’s antics and adventures. Very entertaining!
The Croc Ate My Homework by Stephan Pastis (ages 8 – 12)
This book is so funny I can hardly stand it. My kids LOVED this book, as did I. It’s from the author of the Timmy Failure books and the Pearls Before Swine comic strip which curated especially for younger readers. The crocs are not the smartest and their stupidity will keep you thoroughly entertained. You’ll be sharing page after page with your family, friends, and neighbors.
6th grade is hard enough for Raina but it’s even worse with braces, headgear, and friend troubles. My 10-year-old daughter loves this series that starts with Smile. She read Sisters four times the first week she owned it — they’re all excellent books and quite addictive. ALSO READ: Drama, Sisters
Big Nate Welcome to My World by Lincoln Peirce (ages 9 – 12) SERIES
I think the Big Nate comics are even better than the novels — they are just so stinking funny! Lincoln Peirce “gets” kids and their struggles — the episodes will keep both you and your kids cracking up.
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (ages 8 – 12)
Growing up, Imogene (aka. Impy) always loved her family’s part in the Renaissance Faire . . . that is, until middle school. Even though she gets her dream to work in the faire as a squire, she also just wants to be like the other girls at her school, too. Her journey is painful and honest as she figures out who she wants to be. It’s narrated as a hero’s journey which, with the faire background and middle school drama, feels perfect. Beyond being a terrific coming of age story, I’m sure this book will interest tween readers in Renaissance festivals themselves.
The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telemeter SERIES (ages 9 – 12)
This classic chapter book series is now retold in cartoons! Four best friends work together to handle all sorts of issues — from babysitting to emergencies, to competition from other babysitters. Your kids will love these excellent, addictive stories. ALSO READ: (The Truth About Stacey #2, Mary Ann Saves the Day #3)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson (ages 8 – 12)
Sarcastic and hilarious, this is a laugh-out-loud comic book series about a precocious young girl and her reluctant unicorn “best friend.” My kids and I adore these characters and love this new book. It’s one we’ll read over and over again. BOXED SET
Click by Kayla Miller (ages 8 – 12)
Click is an excellent, relatable book about friendships and finding your place –my daughter felt could have been her own story. When the talent show is announced, everyone in Olive’s friend group makes pairs and groups up but don’t include her. She feels really left out. Olive’s cool aunt watches variety show videos with her to help Olive get ideas. It does give Olive an idea — to be the host of the show. That’s something she can do on her own. I like that the book contains realistic family situations (a slightly overbearing mom,) realistic friend challenges, the relatable feeling of loneliness among your classmates, and then, a really creative resolution. The artwork is eye-catching, too.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova (ages 9+)
My 10-year old found this book SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. (So glad I’m not in middle school anymore.) We highly recommend this graphic novel.
New Kid by Jerry Craft (ages 9 – 12)
Jordan’s parents make him go to a private school across town where he’s one of the only kids of color. Besides having the tricky business of navigating friendships, he now must deal with the two separate worlds of his neighborhood and his school along with racism and balancing academics with his art. This story feels truthful, relatable, and important.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (age 8 – 12)
Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
Hale hits it out of the park in this quirky, wild sci-fi adventure! Three theater friends take a weird trip to a taco drive-through that turns into oozing mutant creatures taking over the world. They meet a weird looking creature of many arms and legs named Wendy who tells them that it was her roommate who started the world-ending disaster. Crazy mutant science experiments never looked so good.
Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson (ages 8 – 12)
Bone #1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith (ages 8 – 12) SERIES
Adventure, excitement, and humor fill these captivating stories of a young bone boy named Fone and his cousins who are banned from Boneville. The illustrations capture each character’s depth so well, and the dialogue will crack you up.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm (ages 9 – 12)
Sunny’s summer vacation is spending time with her grandfather at his retirement home. (Not exactly her idea of fun.) Luckily, she meets the caretaker’s son, Buzz, and as their friendship and love of comic books develop, she also starts to deal with the real reason she’s there — her brother’s drug use. Well-written and an enjoyable narrative.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (ages 9 – 12)
Roller Girl shows the struggles of friendship and finding your place in the world as Astrid works hard to become a better roller derby skater, reconcile her ending friendship with her best friend, and develop a new one. (I recommend going to a roller derby event with your kids to help them know more about this cool sport for girls — it’s such a blast and would be helpful for reading this book, but not essential.) Well-written and relatable.
Hera: The Goddess and her Glory by George O’Conner (ages 8 – 12)
Both my kids love O’Conner’s graphic novels and can’t wait for his next book, Hades. If you’re big Greek mythology fans, check out his other books, Athena and Zeus: King of the Gods.
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale (ages 8 – 12)
One of the BEST books, not just graphic novels, EVER! This Rapunzel uses her long braids to lasso the bad guys in the wild west.
Conspiracy of Ravens by Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Sally Jane Thompson (ages 8 – 12)
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks (ages 8 – 12)
Sanity and Tallulah are two good friends who live on a space station. Sanity is a brilliant inventor — but her newest (illegal) creation, a three-headed kitten named Princess Destroyer of Worlds has escaped and is living up to her name — destroyer. The friends look for their missing kitten but instead discover a big problem that will destroy the space station only it’s not caused by the kitten. While the station is evacuated, the friends work hard to stop the duct weasels and the engine from overheating. I love the space station setting, the super-smart problem-solving main characters, and the non-stop action.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale (ages 8 – 12)
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun (ages 8 – 12)
Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence (ages 8 – 12)
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
I’ll admit that it took me a few chapters to embrace the cursive font used to write the diary entries that often punctuate the action and dialogue of the panels. Once I did, I could fully immerse myself in the story. And I’m so glad — because it was excellent! The book shows both Annie and Helen’s strengths and weaknesses as well as really significant character arcs. If you don’t know the story, or even if you do, read this book. You’ll be entranced with how laborious it was to teach Helen yet how Annie’s persistence paid off.
Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-In-Training by Joris Chamblain and Aurelie Neyret (ages 8 – 12)
Cici loves a good mystery. Because she’s always observing people, she’s good at finding mysteries, too. First she discovers an old man who visits the long abandoned zoo and paints murals of the animals that used to live there. Cici rallies her friends and family to help clean up the zoo, giving it new life. As she ends that mystery and looks for another, her friends get mad at her for her dogged focus on her own interests. She finds a second mystery but her friends don’t help. Cici needs to let people in and fix the relationship problems she’s created. Entertaining with an excellent story arc and valuable life lessons.
Science Comics: Bats Learning to Fly by Falynn Koch
Factual information is embedded within this story about a lost little bat who observes a tour group in the desert learning about bats from a tour guide. When the little bat gets hurt, he’s taken to a wild animal hospital where he meets other kinds of bats. At the hospital, the bats lively conversations help the little brown bat learn more about bats — what they eat, how they fly, different species, echolocation, and where they live. SO well done!
Tyrannosaurus Ralph by Nate Evans and Vince Evans (ages 8 – 12)
Lupin Leaps In: A Breaking Cat News Adventure by Georgia Dunn
Get the news that matters (to cats) as reported by three cats including one named Lupin. My daughter laughed her way through these funny cartoons. She stopped repeatedly to show me her favorite pages. Because when something is funny, you just want to share it! (Don’t miss the previous book, Breaking Cat News.)
Around the World written and illustrated by Matt Phelan (ages 8 – 12)
Around the World is a graphic non-fiction novel so it reads easily while you’re learning information — are three biographies. Each of the three historical individuals traveled around the world post-Verne. Thomas Stevens bicycled around the world with an early prototype of the bicycle, the kind with one large wheel and one small. (Lots of falling.) Famous for being a daring female reporter, Nellie Bly tried traveled to beat Jules Verne’s record. Finally, Joshua Slocum sailed around the world in his old sailboat. A graphic novel is a fantastic way to read about history – this book really captured me.
Artemis Fowl The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin (ages 9 – 12)
Also available as a full-text novel, this series is about an anti-hero. Ok, a villain, evil genius kid named Artemis. He plots to steal the fairies gold which leads him to kidnap a fairy-cop and hold her for ransom. Very entertaining.
Fable Comics edited by Chris Duffy (ages 6 – 12)
My kids and I ADORE this book as well as the series’ previously published books, Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics. We love that 17 different cartoonists created one or more of the 28 illustrated fables, sometimes retelling a traditional, often unknown fable, and sometimes retelling with their own twist. The neat thing about this diversity in cartoonists, is seeing what the artist envisions for the style and tone of the art for each story.
Secret Coders: Get with the Program by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (ages 8 – 12)
What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor. Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. I love the interactivity, the diverse main characters, and the progressive way the authors teach the logical thinking of programming. Very well-done!
Magic Pickle SERIES by Scott Morse (ages 8 – 12)
Hilarious if you like puns; I do!!
Little Vampire by Joann Sfar (ages 8 – 12)
Not scary, a very cute comic for kids about a lonely vampire who befriends a human boy.
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lender and Zack Giallongo (ages 7 – 10)
This is a crazy, cool, really great, reimagined star-crossed
lovers friends –a “petter” rooster named Romeo and a “wilder” bear named Juliet who meet and become friends. Unfortunately, the wild animals despise the petting zoo animals so they must be secret friends. And, in this version, the pair of friends do not die, but go into a hibernation sleep. Simultaneously, the audience of zoo animals give us another story line to follow particularly with two argumentative children and two hilarious vultures. (*Parents, there is the use of the double meaning of the word ass.*)
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis (ages 8 – 12)
A group unlikely science-geek friends solve a mystery; this is a fantastic (STEM) story.
The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw by Mark Crilley (ages 8 – 12)
The lessons within the story will inspire and educate young artists. I especially liked the juxtaposition of the boy, David’s, eagerness and his teacher, Becky’s, reluctance finishing with a cool pay-it-forward ending. The lessons are woven within the larger story of a young boy named David who asks a young woman named Becky to give him drawing lessons. She reluctantly agrees, first asking him to draw her watch. This becomes a lesson in seeing scale, the blank spaces, and the differences between the real watch and the drawing. She declines other lessons saying she’s not a teacher but David bumps into her (even finding her house!) and she continues (reluctantly) to give him lessons on shadowing, loose sketching, negative space, proportions, and more. The Drawing Lesson is a marvelous graphic novel that both entertains and teaches.
Terra Tempo The Four Corners of Time by David Shapiro, illustrated by Christopher Herndon, color by Erica Melville (ages 8 – 12)
Three friends use a time map to travel waaaay back to the four corners area of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona to the Cretaceous age of dinosaurs but their troubles are more complex than just the gigantic beasts. Unfortunately, they are not the only humans trying to survive. LOVE this adventure!
Max Finder Mystery Vol. 7 by Craig Battle and Ramon Perez, created by Liam O’Donnell (ages 8 – 12)
Get ready mystery fans and young detectives – you’re in for some fun with this book! Each of the cases, told in comic form like in the Owl Magazine, develop the story and give you clues. Then, see if you can figure out the answers. When you turn the page, the clues and answer are explained.
Primates The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks (ages 8 – 12)
Well-told in comic version, this graphic novel captures the intersecting stories and scientific advancements of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas who have spent their lives studying primates.
Maddy Kettle The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard (ages 9 – 12)
In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, our heroine Maddy searches for a way to change her parents from rats back into humans. She and her friends travel by balloon to find the Thimblewitch responsible. This is a lovely, adventurous story of a brave girl and her new friends.
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks with Jordie Bellaire (ages 9 – 12) SERIES
First in an Asian-influenced series about an occupied city, we meet two kids from different clans and backgrounds who become unlikely friends. Kaidu is a Dao and new to the Nameless City where he’s studying to be a soldier. Rat is a street girl who teaches Kaidu how to survive in the city. Together they save the city’s leader from an assassination plot. The action and characters are compelling. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, The Stone Heart.
The Wrong Wrights (Secret Smithsonian Adventures)
Four friends discover that they are urgently needed to fix the history that someone has tampered with. In this story, they discover that the Wright brothers were thwarted, affecting all of flight history.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll
Courageous and adventurous Masha knows Baba Yaga from her grandmother’s stories. After her grandmother dies, and her father remarries, Masha decides to become Baba Yaga’s assistant. To pass Baba Yaga’s tests, Masha uses her wits and the stories from her grandmother. She thinks she will fail when she rescues three children from Baba Yaga’s cage but she passes. Excellent storytelling and illustrations kept me totally enthralled in this not-your-average-fairy tale story.
Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman (ages 8 – 12)
Gorgeous drawings share the story of a foster girl named Red who is kidnapped by a UFO and marooned on a planet with her fellow UFO alien companions where a grumpy planet guardian lives. Red finds that with her new friends, anywhere can be a home. They’ll be more about Red and her adventures in another volume.
Human Body Theater: A Nonfiction Revue by Maris Wicks (ages 10 – 14)
This nonfiction graphic novel ROCKS! It should be required reading for students studying the human body because the information presented this way is so memorable and understandable. I love Skeleton’s narration and the awesomely cute illustrations of every body system from the smallest cell parts to the biggest organs.
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky (ages 12+)
SOOOO good! Initially, I felt skeptical that an adaptation could work but it really does. The diary bits and dialogue are well-balanced into a cohesive story that feels seamless, well-written, and insightful. Anne’s personality really shines through as she sets the historical context and describes her daily life in hiding which isn’t always very exciting but does result in a romance with the boy her age who lives there, too.
Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Lieu (ages 12+)
A few years ago this was published to high praise. This is the superhero story about the origins of the Green Turtle, a 1940’s masked Asian-American man. I loved everything about this man who is a reluctant vigilante! His overbearing mother pushes him to become a hero and is disappointed in him, thinks him a failure. There’s a cool element of Chinese mythology (the turtle spirit) that comes into play, affecting Hank, who steps up to fight the Chinatown gangs, a hero at last.
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan (ages 10+)
FAIRY TALE, HISTORY
I adore this reimagined graphic novel about Snow White set in New York City in the 1920s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to retell a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu (ages 10+)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (ages 12+)
This is dark humor at it’s best! Shape-shifter, Nimona, appoints herself the sidekick to villain, Lord Ballister Blackhart. But Nimona is way more serious about real villainy than Lord Blackhart. She kills and creates chaos whenever possible which distresses Lord Blackhart. Nimona thinks Lord Blackhart’s rules are weird and totally unnecessary. But, despite Nimona’s dark side, together they set out to prove that the heroes are not really heroic. The main characters are very well-developed and both have back-stories that make them really interesting. I love that Nimona isn’t a sexed-up heroine, she’s just a regular-looking girl. I highly recommend this book and so does my 10-year old. Also, it on the long-list for the National Book Awards.
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland (YA 13+)
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