25 Graphic Novels Your Kids Will Love Reading
Picture books get a serious upgrade with these fun and fresh graphic novels that are perfect for kids of all ages.
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A picture is worth a thousand words…
…and we mean that literally when it comes to some of the best graphic novels for kids. Whether your child is an avid reader or prefers visual entertainment, the ever-growing genre of the kid-friendly graphic novel is sure to please all. And before we go any further, let’s clear up the graphic novel vs. comic debate. While comic books are usually serialized periodicals, with stories spanning over weeks with each new publication, graphic novels are usually self-contained and tell an entire story within one issue. We guarantee your children will be on a reading roll after checking out these picture-perfect picks. To add even more to their reading list, check out the best children’s books ever written!
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
This tale is full of witches, wizardry, and the truly powerful magic of being yourself. Thirteen-year-old Aster is born into a family in which all girls are raised to be witches while all boys are raised to be shapeshifters, and the penalty for crossing these strictly gendered lines is exile. Unfortunately for Aster, he hasn’t shown any signs of shapeshifting ability but instead has taken an interest in witchery. When his brothers are threatened, Aster knows how he can help as a witch. But does he have what it takes to be himself? The Witch Boy is as poignant and heartwarming as it is entertaining. Your kids will also love these (free!) audiobooks!
Abigail and the Snowman by Roger Langridge
Eisner and Harvey Award–winning cartoonist Roger Langridge creates a tale about friendship so sweet that it’s sure to melt even the biggest block of ice and snow. Abigail, a nine-year-old girl who recently moved to a new town with her father, finds it hard to make friends at her new school until she meets Claude, a Yeti. The only catch? Claude is invisible to everyone except for her. When mysterious Shadow Men begin to chase Claude, it’s up to Abigail to save her new best friend.
The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel by Nora Twomey
Adapted from Deborah Ellis’ best-selling novel and Aircraft Pictures’ animated film, The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana, who must disguise herself as a boy in order to support her family during the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. This story of female empowerment, set against a historical period, is as uplifting as it is difficult, and is better for slightly older readers (think 10- to 12-year-olds). It’s no wonder that Malala Yousafzai wrote in the New York Times that “all girls [should read] The Breadwinner.” Looking to expand your children’s library without spending big? These are the best websites for free books.
A Year Without Mom by Dasha Tolstikova
Dasha is a young girl growing up in Moscow in the 1990s after her mother leaves to go to America. Navigating family, friends, and school without a mother is difficult—but what may be even more difficult is when Dasha’s mother sends word that Dasha is to join her in America. This graphic novel for kids is all about change, identity, and relationships and will encourage kids everywhere to face their own challenges. While you’re ordering this book for your kids, you may also want to check out these 15 new books to read this year to add to your own “to be read” list.
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lendler
Who would have thought that zoo animals were the perfect actors for classic Shakespeare plays? Ian Lendler certainly did, and we’re forever indebted to him for creating this laugh-out-loud series of adaptations featuring the funniest (and furriest) of creatures. The Stratford Zoo seems normal until day turns to night and the animals come out of their cages to create elaborate performances of Shakespeare’s greatest works. Not only will kids love the zany illustrations, but it’s the perfect way to introduce young readers to some of the Bard’s classics. Speaking of Shakespeare, did you know that many of our everyday phrases were invented by the man himself?
Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel
Calling all science lovers! Little ones who like to make things explode will love Olga, the amazing child scientist who discovers the species olgamus ridiculus, a never-before-seen creature. But Olga needs help to find out more about these mysterious little animals. With the assistance of a librarian, a shopkeeper, her friends, and, of course, her observation notebook, Olga sets out on a scientific quest. Not only will kids be enchanted by Elise Gravel’s fun illustrations, but this graphic novel will also help them learn more about the scientific method. Double score!
Sheets by Brenna Thummler
Marjorie and Wendell couldn’t be more different. Majorie is a practical and disciplined 13-year-old girl in charge of her family’s laundry business, while Wendell is a ghost who turns Majorie’s laundromat into his own personal playground after dark. The two strike up an unlikely friendship and learn about the importance of perseverance, forgiveness, and, above all, second chances. A ghostly story with a good heart, Brenna Thummler’s Sheets is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Sita’s Ramayana by Samhita Arni and Moyna Chitrakar
This graphic novel tells the story of ancient Indian queen Sita, who, along with her husband and his brother, is exiled from her kingdom and captured by the arrogant king Ravana. The trials and tribulations of her capture and subsequent rescue make for a dramatic story full of twists and turns. Magic, the gods, sorcery, and more contribute to this intense and exciting story of one brave woman. Sita’s Ramayana will immerse kids in the culture of ancient India while also entertaining them with plenty of action and adventure. Put yourself (and your children!) in the mood for reading with these incredible reading quotes that will make you crave a good book.
Louis Undercover by Fanny Britt
Louis Undercover looks at family dynamics and the difficulty of divorce from the eyes of Louis, a young boy who—along with his little brother, Truffle—is shuttled between an alcoholic father and a concerned mother after the two separate. However, when Louis and Truffle go to their dad’s place for a couple of weeks during the summer, it seems that their father has stopped drinking and that their family could possibly be reunited once again. This truthful look at familial relationships will resonate with any slightly older child who has experienced the divorce of his or her parents. You’ll also find some illustrated classics on the list of the highest rated books on Goodreads.
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Let’s be real: When we were in elementary school, we probably all wondered what our lunch ladies did during their time off. Jarrett J. Krosoczka brings that idea to life in his Lunch Lady graphic novels for kids. Lunch Lady serves food by day and justice by night in this action-packed adventure series full of evil villains, heroic rescues, and maybe a couple of sloppy joes. In the first book, Lunch Lady is on a mission to find out why a teacher who never misses a day of school suddenly has a substitute. Students Hector, Terrence, and Dee accidentally get caught up in the scheme. With the help of some wacky kitchen supplies and spyware, Lunch Lady and the kids work to crack the case.
Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by Mariah Marsden
Graphic novels for kids can be a great way to introduce your children to classic books. This is certainly the case for Mariah Marsden’s rendition of the classic L.M. Montgomery tale Anne of Green Gables. Anne’s ability to turn ordinary moments into the extraordinary is captured beautifully with these fun illustrations that give this perennial favorite a fresh take. Treat yourself to something equally iconic with one of the 25 best short stories of all time.
Babymouse: Queen of the World! by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
Babymouse perhaps takes the cake for most adorable graphic novel. In this series that’s won multiple Children’s Choice Awards, the titular character is a mouse whose imagination is full of glitz and glamour. Her reality, however, is not quite so glamorous. But when Babymouse hears about the popular Felicia Furrypaws’ sleepover, she wonders if her luck will finally change and she’ll be invited. This book (and the rest of the mouse-tastic series) is best for ages 7 to 10. Cultivate a love of books in your kids early and hopefully it will last a lifetime—reading is incredibly important for their brains (and yours).
Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by R.L. Ullman
Who wouldn’t want to grow up in a family full of superheroes? Elliot Harkness, for one—but mainly because in a family full of superheroes, he’s absolutely powerless. While his parents, older sister, and even his dog are out saving the world, Elliot is stuck in middle school. That is, until a mysterious girl comes into his life and believes he’s the only one who can keep a powerful extraterrestrial orb from falling into the wrong hands. Now it’s up to Elliot to become the superhero he’s always wanted to be. This graphic novel is perfect for kids who love all things superhero-related.
Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.
An evil queen, a destined quest, and an unlikely hero find themselves crossing paths in the Cucumber Quest series, graphic novels adapted from author Gigi D.G.’s popular webcomics. Nerdy magician Cucumber and his bold sister Almond are in search of the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat evil Queen Cordelia and her Nightmare Knight. But will the bunny siblings be able to succeed, or will the seven kingdoms of Dreamside be plunged into darkness forever? There’s only one way to find out. We’re pretty sure you and your kids will equally enjoy these children’s books everyone should read in their lifetime, too.
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
Chad Sell creates a neighborhood full of imagination, fun, and laughter in The Cardboard Kingdom. A group of kids transforms ordinary cardboard boxes into intricate costumes and sets in order to change their neighborhood block into the cardboard kingdom of their dreams. Encounters with knights, robots, monsters, and more ensue as the kids learn to work together and be themselves. Named one of the Best Books of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, The Cardboard Kingdom showcases the power of imagination. Getting fun, unique, imaginative books like this one for your kids is just one of the simple ways you can instill a love of reading in your kids.
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy for short) has always dreamed of being a squire; after all, she’s grown up with her two parents working at the Renaissance Faire. Impy decides that the perfect quest will be to conquer the world of middle school after being homeschooled all her life. But making the switch is a lot harder than it looks, and Impy finds herself behaving in ways she never would have imagined in order to fit in with kids at school. Victoria Jamieson pens a heartwarming story about the importance of staying true to yourself during some of the most transformative years of life.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula Vernon
This fun twist on the classic Sleeping Beauty fairy tale follows Harriet Hamsterbone, a rodent princess who’s looking for a little more adventure in her life. When her parents tell her that an evil rat placed a curse on her at birth that will make her prick her finger at the age of 12 and fall into a deep sleep, Harriet is overjoyed—that means she can go on adventures until she’s 12! Harriet the Invincible follows the adventures of Harriet and the unexpected manifestation of her curse in a funny and creative way.
Owly: The Way Home by Andy Runton
Owly is an owl who wants a friend and finds one in Wormy, a worm looking for someone who is always able to lend a helping hand. Together the two have great adventures and fun times in this story about friendship and trust. Owly can be read by the youngest of readers and is therefore a great way to get even your littlest ones introduced to the genre of the graphic novel.
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
In this fantastical series, every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But to the City’s native people, the Nameless City is their home and all invaders are seen as outsiders. All invaders, that is, until native Rat meets outsider Kaidu. Their first encounter is anything but friendly, but as the two begin to explore the City and strike up a friendship, they realize that unity rather than endless fighting is what will save not only the City but also each other. A heroic tale of coming together, The Nameless City is the first graphic novel in a three-part series that’s sure to keep your children turning pages.
CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington
Drew Brockington creates a cat-tastic adventure with CatStronauts: Mission Moon. In this graphic novel for kids, the world experiences a blackout due to a global energy shortage, and it’s up to a team of CatStronauts to set up a solar power plant on the moon. A story full of feline fun and science, CatStronauts is sure to be the purr-fect read for kids ages six through 10, and it’ll put all of your in the mood for these funny cat puns.
Adventure Time by Ryan North
The hit cartoon television series Adventure Time first aired on Cartoon Network in 2007, and fans of the show will absolutely love this serialized graphic novel version written by Ryan North and illustrated by Braden Lamb and Shelli Paroline. The first volume follows Finn the Human, Jake the Dog, and Princess Bubblegum as they try to stop the Lich, a scary skeleton monster who’s bent on destroying the Land of Ooo. These graphic novels are a fresh take on an already established story, which will make kids all the more interested in reading it. Similarly, adults might want to check out these books that are now hit movies.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include the classic New York Times best-selling graphic novel series Narwhal and Jelly on our list of the best graphic novels for kids. Opposites attract when it comes to the friendship of Narwhal and Jelly, who swim about the ocean in search of adventure together. In this heartwarming series, Ben Clanton explores the importance of friendship, working together, and imagination. These books are best for younger readers, ages six to nine.
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
This take on the story of Jack and the beanstalk is jam-packed with mystery, adventure, and intrigue. Jack is dreading summer: It’s when his single mother works a second job and leaves him stuck at home watching his autistic sister, Maddy, who doesn’t talk. However, one day at the flea market, Maddy does speak, telling Jack to buy a mysterious box of seeds. As you can imagine, a normal-sized garden isn’t exactly what grows.
Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan
Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gertrude, Molly, and Alex were completely normal teenagers who only knew one another through their wealthy parents’ annual business meeting. But when the teens find out that their parents are part of a secret criminal society known as the Pride, their lives become anything but normal. Now on the run from their evil parents, these teens only have each other to rely on. Runaways is a tale of unlikely friendship and heroic action created by Eisner Award–winning writer Brian K. Vaughan. Add some of these books you can read for free online to your radar so you always have something handy when young readers in your life finish a book.
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
This fantastical graphic novel follows the story of Emily and Navin, two ordinary children who move with their mother to the former home of her great-grandfather after the tragic death of their own father. But something is mysterious in this old house. When a sinister creature lures the kids’ mother through a door in the basement, Emily and Navin follow in order to bring her back. With the help of a mechanical rabbit named Miskit, the trio fight against demons, robots, and talking animals in this adventure series. Next, check out the best audiobooks for your next family road trip.