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12 Graphic Novel Series for Kids

If you’ve written off graphic novels for kids as not “real” reading, take a peek at these titles that have massive kid appeal and help even reluctant readers want to crack open a book. These 13 best graphic novels for kids are sure to be a hit!

 

As a former librarian and now a parent, I feel like graphic novels for kids are a reading secret weapon. 

When I took over the two library collections in my Boston schools, there wasn’t a single graphic novel on the shelves, so I got to start two graphic novel collection from scratch.

And it was miraculous to see how my students flocked to them, even the children that never ever showed any interest in other books.

I marked out a section on the shelves for graphic novels, but it turned out to be unneeded because for the ENTIRE year, those books never once went back on the shelf.

One child would drop a graphic novel in the return basket and before I had a moment to return them to the shelf, another child would have grabbed it out and be checking it out.

I love graphic novels for kids because the illustrations help guide the story along and they are usually much less text-heavy, which is fantastic for visual learners or reluctant readers or struggling readers. 

They also tend to be small and paperback, so they can seem much less intimidating than a traditional novel.

And even strong readers can benefit from the opportunity to use their brains in slightly different ways, piecing together the story through both words and images.

Not to mention that graphic novels for kids are just plain fun.

Ella and Ani both devour graphic novels and the graphic novels below have all been vetted by my 600 students back in Boston or my two little in-home reviewers and gotten big thumbs up. 

The best part about these graphic novels for kids is that each of them is a series, so once your child gets hooked, there are many more adventures to be had!

graphic novels for kids

The Best Graphic Novels for Kids

Lunch Lady series by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

This was the first graphic novels for kids series I ever read and I remember clearly reading it on the train in Boston and thinking, “This is SO clever.” The black and white with yellow color scheme is so appealing and it’s full of nutty adventures and hilarious crime-fighting tools from lunch lady supplies. I’ve never met a child who didn’t love these.

Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi

After their father dies, Emily and Navin find a new home with their mother where their great-great-grandfather used to live. But far from being a peaceful retreat from their grief, this house is full of new fears, including a basement dwelling creature that lures their mother into a magical underground world. Obviously, they follow her through. And obviously there is no shortage of adventures that await.

Babymouse series by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm

This is the most beloved graphic novels for kids series at our house – I think Ella has read them all at least two or three times. They’re so cute and they’re are a LOT of them. This duo also wrote the Squish series which has also been a hit at our house and has more boy appeal than the all-pink Babymouse series.

The Flying Beaver Brothers by Maxwell Eaton

Ella’s review of this graphic novel series: “It is VERY far-fetched. But it’s also really funny.” I mean, when two beavers start battling it out with penguins who want to turn their island paradise into a frozen resort? What else would you expect?

Bird & Squirrel series by James Burks

CatStronauts by Drew Brockington

I think one thing that’s so appealing about graphic novels for kids is that they just lend themselves so easily to a little bit of silliness, in a way another format doesn’t. In this one, the fate of the world depends on the CatStronauts setting up a solar power plant on the moon to solve the global energy crisis. Fortunately, this feline crew is more than up to the task in this world where everyone is a cat and EVERYONE wants a tuna sandwich.

The Treehouse series by Andy Griffiths

If your child lives for slapstick, this graphic novel series is for them. Andy and Terry live in a treehouse with thirteen stories. It also has a swimming pool and a bowling alley and it keeps getting bigger and better as the duo add more stories. Chocolate waterfall, anyone?

Owly series by Andy Runton

Poor little Owly. He’s so sweet, but he’s so lonely. All he really wants is a friend. And in this two-part graphic novel, he might just find one.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson

Raise your hand if you have a small unicorn lover at your house? I’ve got three and this book was a smash hit. Everything in this book happened by accident when Phoebe skipped a rock across the water and, entirely by mistake, smacked a unicorn in the face. And who knew that this leads to getting a wish granted? Possibly the best part is that the unicorn’s name is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils.

Binky series by Ashley Spires

I love the true wackiness of this graphic novel series, with Binky, a cat who sees everything around him through a different lens than the rest of the world. We’d probably call that buzzing thing a bug, but he’s convinced it’s an alien invader. As one does.

Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon

Ella currently claims this as her favorite graphic novel series. They’re more robust than most of the other graphic novels for kids on this list, clocking in at around 250 pages per book and they’re hilarious rodent retellings of famous fairy tales.

Narwhal and Jelly Book series by Ben Clanton

These are the perfect introductory graphic novels for kids. They have three little stories, brief text and large illustrations. And they are hilarious – I was reading one aloud to my girls in the backseat while my in-laws were visiting and everyone was chuckling along at the antics of these underwater friends.

 

What best graphic novels for kids have I missed? Let me know in the comments because my girls just DEVOUR them!

 

If you liked this post about graphic novels for kids, here are some other book lists you might find useful:

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26 Comments

  • Reply Jen @ Bookish Family May 29, 2018 at 5:57 am

    I’ve never read these series, but I always choose a well-reviewed graphic novel version of a Shakespeare play to prepare to see it performed. My kids have an easier time following the action when there are a lot of illustrations!

    • Reply Jennifer May 29, 2018 at 5:05 pm

      Have you ever seen the Stratford Zoo graphic novels by Ian Lendler? They are hilarious retellings of Shakespeare with zoo animals. Not exactly accurate, but a TON of fun!

      • Reply Janssen Bradshaw May 30, 2018 at 7:57 am

        NO! But that sounds amazing – I’ll definitely check them out.

  • Reply Kristen @ High Shelf Esteem May 29, 2018 at 10:53 am

    Phoebe and Her Unicorn is one of my favorites! I love that both kids and adults find it hilarious.

  • Reply Paige May 29, 2018 at 11:21 am

    These all look so fun! I’ll definitely be snagging some at the library this week, especially Catstronauts!

  • Reply Ashley May 29, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    My 9 year old nephew loves The Dog Man series, The Galactic Hot Dog series, The Last Kids on Earth, and of course the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. It’s really hard to find books for boys, but he loves these!

  • Reply Britt May 29, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    What age do you recommend starting these? My daughter is 4 and has just started sitting through longer picture books.

  • Reply Beth May 29, 2018 at 6:17 pm

    I love Shannon Hale’s Real Friends! We used it for my middle grade girl’s book club last year and it was so great for discussion.

  • Reply Marlo May 30, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Thank you for this list. A few a of my girls absolutely love graphic novels, but I generally am not a huge fan. We even have some restrictions on graphic novels in our home. One concern is that my daughter reads graphic novels at the exclusion of other books. She’s not an emergent reader or a reluctant reader, she just prefers graphic novels to everything else. I would like her to have a broader reading life. But my biggest concern is that so many themes inappropriate for grade schoolers seem to be rampant in a lot of graphic novels. Drugs, alcohol use, kissing, dating, war, etc, seem to be prevelant in some graphic novels that appear to be marketed toward grade schoolers but are written for middle or high schoolers. Do you have any advice about this? I don’t want to ban graphic novels, but I don’t know which ones are age appropriate without reading them all! My kids read far above grade level, exacerbating the problem, which I realize exists for regular books as well. I love this list, because there are some new to us series on here. Thank you so much and thanks for any advice you have!

    • Reply Jennifer May 30, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Try looking on No Flying No Tights – it’s a group of reviewers that review for the school market, so generally include notes of any problematic content. https://www.noflyingnotights.com/
      You can also try Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/
      I review a lot of graphic novels on my blog, usually towards the younger end of the spectrum (I’m a librarian) so you can check me out too (-:) http://jeanlittlelibrary.blogspot.com/search/label/graphic%20novel

    • Reply Alysa May 30, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Hi Marlo! I have some advice. First, I’m guessing your daughter is checking these out from the library, right? So I would say while you’re there, ask the librarian! Probably there is one librarian who knows the graphic novels better than the others. Once you know who that is, you can ask about content of specific books. If your daughter is checking them out from the library without you there (at school or something) then you can do a couple of things 1) Ask her to show you her new books and scan through some reviews online together to determine if they’re age appropriate for her. 2) Plan what books to get next by looking at high quality graphic novels in advance. I really recommend the Cybils Award for this (as of last year I am the Graphic Novels category organizer over there). The Cybils mission is to choose books that have big kid appeal AND literary merit. We put out a list of 5-7 of the best Graphic Novels for Elementary ages and 5-7 of the best for Teens, every year. And you have 12 years of back lists, too! Feel free to email me if you want to discuss more! alysa@evereadbooks.com

  • Reply Alison Walker May 30, 2018 at 7:26 am

    The first graphic novel I ever read was ‘Fashion Kitty’ by Charise Mericle Harper with my then ten-year-old daughter. It was delightful! I’ve read three of the series and thought they were all fun.

    • Reply Jennifer May 30, 2018 at 9:16 am

      She has a new series – Amazing Crafty Cat – that my library readers are loving!

  • Reply Jenae Jeppesen May 30, 2018 at 11:47 am

    My 7 year old is a huge Bad Guys fan. He likes the reformed villians. Im excited to checl out this list. In fact, as i read it i had my library hold list open!

  • Reply Laura May 30, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    My 2, 4, and 6 year old girls love Giants Beware! and its two sequels; and Zita the Spacegirl!

  • Reply ~T~ May 30, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    I couldn’t resist the Hereville series, by Barry Deutsch, when I read the tagline on the top of the first book: “Yet another troll-fighting 11-year old Orthodox Jewish girl.” Mirka is restless and adventurous, but still finds strength in her values and family relationships. My boys love these books, too!

  • Reply Deborah May 30, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Just maxed out my library card!! Thanks!

  • Reply Cheryl May 30, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    Great Post!!! I’m going to use your list for my reluctant, um emerging readers.

  • Reply Nani May 30, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    We love graphic novels over here. My daughter had recent started picking up the new babysitters club GN, Raina Telgemeier’s books: Smile, Sisters, drama, and Ghosts (my fav), she also likes Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward, and brave. I just picked up Be prepared by Vera Brosgol and A wrinkle in time. some of these we have been adding to our collect but I am excited to check out all the new ones you posted.

  • Reply april June 1, 2018 at 7:25 am

    My son LOVES Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. There are four so far in the series, I think, and the comic is an ongoing series. It’s really really good, for all ages.

  • Reply Rebecca Lately June 1, 2018 at 8:57 am

    My sons (5th and 4th grade) love the Johnny Boo series. They can’t read it without laughing.

  • Reply Ashlee June 1, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    My girls love GEROnimo Stilton, which isn’t exactly graphic novel, but it feels like one:) they’ve also read Smile, Sisters and Drama, but I felt those were too old for them and dealt with situations not necessary for elementary aged girls.

  • Reply Stephanie June 1, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    My 7-yr-old has liked Babymouse and Bad Guys this year. It’s tricky bc he’s reading at a higher grade level but is still leery of books with no illustrations. So graphic novels are great right now for getting the best of both worlds.

    • Reply Jennifer June 4, 2018 at 8:45 am

      That is tricky – Raina Telgemeier is really directed at upper elementary/middle school, but of course the younger kids want to read them too! One thing I’ve found is that younger kids often simply don’t see the more mature aspects of a book – they don’t have the context for it and so it goes right over their heads. But I’d also recommend Real Friends by Shannon Hale, El Deafo by Cece Bell, and Cici: A Fairy’s Story by Cori Doerrfeld. These have some of the same aspects as Telgemeier but are aimed at a younger audience.

  • Reply Ellen June 3, 2018 at 2:42 pm

    “The Great Pet Escape” is a great short (64 p) graphic novel for younger kids, and has a sequel.

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