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43 Graphic Novels for Young Readers, From Toddlers to Teens

These graphic novels will jump start your child's reading

Published on: July 22, 2016

Graphic novels are rising in popularity, and for good reason. They’re ideal for reluctant readers, kids who love art and voracious bookworms who want a genre that’s a little different from their usual fare.

The themes of the following graphic novels run the gamut. Some are complete fantasy; others are extremely realistic and relatable. Still others fall somewhere between the ordinary and the extraordinary. But all have one thing in common: beautiful art and important messages.

Toddlers and preschool

1. Nursery Rhyme Comics: 50 Timeless Rhymes from 50 Celebrated Cartoonists

By various authors

Introduce your little ones to favorite childhood rhymes, accompanied by modern-day comic illustrations from some of today’s most talented cartoonists

2. Fairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told by Extraordinary Cartoonists

By various authors

This compilation includes classics like Puss in Boots and Goldilocks, and a few obscure fairy tales that may be new to parents. Each of the 17 stories is illustrated by a different cartoonist. 

3. The Kickball Kids (My First Graphic Novel)

By Cari Meister and Julie Olson

Kyle’s team is preparing for the upcoming kickball tournament. Follow along as they practice kicking, catching and running. Discussion questions included at the end. 

4. Lily Lemon Blossom Comics series

By Barbara Miller

In Lily Lemon Blossom’s imaginary world, her dolls and stuffed animals come to life. The book series depicts her interacting with them in everyday situations and imparts values such as generosity and friendship.

5. Pippi Longstocking Comics series

By Astrid Lindgren and Ingrid Vang Nyman

The adventures of everyone’s favorite pig-tailed redhead can now be read in graphic novel form. Astrid Lindgren (the author of the original Pippi Longstocking series) writes the text and Ingrid Vang Nyman provides the bright, bold illustrations. 

6. Hocus Pocus series

By Sylvie Desrosiers and Rémy Simard

Hocus Pocus, a mischievous blue rabbit who resides in a magician’s hat, goes on a number of missions from battling it out with a grouchy dog to returning a stuffed bunny to its owner. The Hocus Pocus books are mostly wordless and the illustrations have a retro feel.

7. Benny and Penny series

By Geoffrey Hayes

A brother-sister duo of loveable mice are at the center of this delightful series, which depicts a loving but realistic sibling relationship.  The comic illustrations are accompanied by simple text.

8. Owly series

By Andy Runton

Owly is a sweet but lonely little owl who craves friendship and adventure. The books are nearly wordless and rely on illustrations to convey important messages about hope, kindness and hard work. 

Elementary school

9. Babymouse series

By Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Babymouse dreams big and her whiskers are always a mess. Throughout this series, the sassy mouse embarks on a variety of endeavors including running for class president and attending sleepaway camp.

10. Fangbone! Third Grade Barbarian series

By Michael Rex

There’s a new student at Eastwood Elementary and he’s a barbarian warrior from another world. He teams up with his new classmates to conquer everything from pop quizzes to scary hound-snakes.

11. Geronimo Stilton graphic novels

By Geronimo Stilton 

The adventures of investigative reporter Geronimo Stilton are available in graphic novel format for kids who prefer a visual reading experience. Join Geronimo the Mouse as he travels through time to places like Ancient Egypt, the first Olympic Games and the Apollo 11 mission.

12. Squish series

By Jennifer L. Holm and Matt Holm

Squish is an amoeba who’s just trying to navigate the halls of grade school. Oh, and he has to stop a giant asteroid from destroying the world. 

13. Stone Rabbit series

By Erik Craddock

There’s nothing this hot-tempered young rabbit isn’t afraid to take on. From encounters with dinosaurs to pirates to aliens, there’s never a dull moment in the Stone Rabbit series.

14. Comics Squad series

By various authors

This graphic novel anthology is packed full of original contributions from some of the most popular authors in the genre including Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jennifer and Matt Holm, Raina Telgemeier and many more. The first book in the series focuses on every kid’s favorite part of the school day, recess. The second is about lunchtime. 

15. Binky Adventure series

By Ashley Spires 

The misadventures of Binky are hilariously documented in this series about a cat who is determined to make it to outer space. Kids will love the dry humor and it’s ideal for readers who are transitioning from picture books to the next reading level.

16. Ordinary People Change the World series

By Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos

This series of graphic novel biographies includes the likes of Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks and Amelia Earhart. Each shares the message that we all have potential to make a difference. 

17. Amelia series

By Marissa Moss 

Written in journal form, the Amelia series is comprised of entries penned by the 9-year-old “author” whose problems and triumphs at school and at home will resonate with young readers. 

Middle school

18. Phoebe & Her Unicorn series

By Dana Simpson

Phoebe is a 9-year-old daydreamer; her best friend is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, a unicornand. They were both lonely until they met, but their bond makes them stronger and they take on goblins, school bullies and more. 

19. City of Ember 

By Jeanne DuPrau 

City of Ember became an overnight hit upon its 2003 publication. Now the story of two children who beat the odds to escape a doomed dystopian city is available in graphic novel form. The rich illustrations bring the story to life and the graphic novel format is perfect for reluctant readers.

20. Dork Diaries series

By Rachel Renee Russell 

The diary entries of Nikki Maxwell are a hilarious look at her life at a prestigious middle school where she doesn’t exactly fit in. Inspired by the experiences of the author and her two daughters, this popular series is a relatable and visually engaging option for the middle school crowd. 

21. Lunch Lady series

By Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Krosoczka’s series chronicles the life of a school lunch lady who does far more than serve meatloaf.

22. Diary of a Wimpy Kid series

By Jeff Kinney 

Kinney’s series helped put graphic novels on the map as a genre that’s beloved by kids, and the newest addition (Book #11) will publish in November. Middle schooler Greg Heffley deals with problems kids will relate to such as fitting in at school and siblings who get away with everything.

23. Hilo series

By Judd Winick 

This new series focuses on DJ and Gina, two ordinary kids who team up with Hilo, a robot who’s adjusting to life on Earth. When a number of strange events occur in town, the three must figure out a way to send mysterious creatures back to space before they wreak havoc.

24. Zita the Spacegirl series

By Ben Hatke

When her friend is abducted by an alien cult, Zita sets out to rescue her. She ends up on a strange planet where she suddenly becomes an intergalatic hero as she confronts humanoid chickens and neurotic robots. 

25. Oddly Normal series

By Otis Frampton 

Oddly Normal is a 10-year-old girl who also happens to be half-witch — complete with pointy ears and green hair. When her parents disappear, she travels to Fignation and embarks on a series of adventures, broom races and quirky games.

26. Smile

By Raina Telgemeier

Based on the author’s own childhood, Smile follows Raina as she struggles with body image issues upon wearing headgear after a dental mishap.

27. Coraline

By Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell

Coraline makes a surprising discovery when she and her family move into a new house. A door leads her to a different home and a mother and father who want to keep Coraline as their little girl.

28. Tommysaurus Rex

By Doug TenNapel 

Tommy is devastated when his beloved dog is hit by a car. But he makes a new friend while exploring a cave: a giant but friendly dinosaur.

29. Jellaby series

By Kean Soo 

Lonely in her neighborhood and school, Portia takes a midnight walk and meets a friendly, kind purple monster. But Jellaby is homesick and Portia takes it upon herself to help him find his way back home. 

30. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal series

By Deckle Edge

What was life like for cave-residing kids 40,000 years ago? Follow this brother-sister pair as they deal with bossy teenagers, paint caves and mammoths.

31. The Misadventures of Max Crumbly

By Rachel Renee Russell

This first book in a brand-new series introduces readers to Max Crumbly, a student at South Ridge Middle School. He aspires to be a superhero like the ones in his comics, but first Max needs to find a way to stop the school bully from stuffing him in his locker every single day. 

High school

32. Nimona

By Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is shapeshifter who teams up with Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain who is determined to prove that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the members of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics are not heroes at all. But Nimona is more dangerous than anyone imagined. 

33. This One Summer

By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki 

Rose and Windy spend each summer at Awago Beach. The lake house is usually a relaxing escape, but this summer is different; Rose’s parents have been fighting nonstop and the next-door neighbors are up to something dangerous.

34. Scott Pilgrim series

By Bryan O’Malley 

Scott Pilgrim is a part-time musician and full-time slacker. When he falls in love with Ramona Flowers, he must outdo all seven of her ex-boyfriends if he wants a shot at dating her.

35. Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey

By Ozge Samanci

Growing up on the Aegean Coast in the 1980s, Ozge dreams of adventure  but her parents have different plans. As tensions rise in her home country, Ozge deals with typical teenage problems in addition to political and cultural unrest.

36. Anya’s Ghost

By Vera Brosgol

Anya desperately needs a friend and she finds one in an unexpected place: at the bottom of an abandoned well. Her new friend happens to be a ghost who has been dead for a century.

37. American Born Chinese

By Gene Luen Yang

Yang weaves together the stories of a modern-day Chinese-American student, the fabled Monkey King and the evil Chin-Kee. When all their lives intersect in an unlikely manner, action ensues.

38. Roller Girl

By Victoria Jamieson

Astrid decides to spend her summer at derby camp, but it’s a little tougher than she thought. The older girls are hard to keep up with and she feels as though she’s losing her lifelong best friend, Nicole, who is at dance camp.

39. Sunny Side Up

By Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm 

When she heads to her grandpa’s in Florida for the summer, Sunny is disappointed that it’s not the amusement park she expected. She’s thrilled to meet a new friend, Buzz, but Sunny will soon learn a family secret that could change her life.

40. Blankets

By Craig Thompson 

In a story of first love, Craig and Raina bond over their shared dream of leaving their conservative Midwestern town. The pair’s personal demons cause their relationship to fall apart and the heartbreak will resonate with teen readers.

41. The Graveyard Book 

By Neil Gaiman 

The Newbery Medal-winning book gets the graphic novel treatment and a new generation of readers can meet Bod, a boy who is the only living resident of a graveyard. He’s raised by ghosts, but soon he’ll have to contend with both the living and the dead.

42. In Real Life

By Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Coarsegold Online is where Anda spends all her free time, playing games and making online friends from all over the world. When she encounters a player who breaks the rules because he desperately needs money, Anda realizes that right and wrong are a little more complicated in the real world.

43. Cardboard

By Doug TenNapel

No one wants to get a cardboard box for their birthday, but it’s all Cam’s dad can afford. They bend it into the shape of a man, but the result is completely unexpected. It comes to life!

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