When I was in third grade, we had free reading time every day. We could read pretty much whatever we wanted, but there was one rule: NO COMIC BOOKS. So for much of my life, I didn’t consider comics and graphic novels “real” literature. However, the best graphic novels are as much literature as any traditional book, and graphic novels are a great tool for engaging visual learners.
You may also enjoy these Chapter Book Series for Reluctant Readers!
My oldest two boys love graphic novels, and I’ve enjoyed reading along with them and hearing about their favorites. The books on this list are books we’ve read and loved, and are generally appropriate for readers from 2nd to 5th grade. I hope your young readers enjoy these books as much as we have!
15 Best Graphic Novels for Kids
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Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg — Ben has the amazing ability to jump into other people’s dreams. When he realizes his friends are being haunted by a terrible dream-monster that won’t let them wake, he has to figure out a way to save them. The task is challenging, but with the help of a strange companion, Ben is able to overcome what scares him by using the power he has within.
El Deafo by Cece Bell — I absolutely love this story about struggling to fit in and find your place in the world. In this book, the author chronicle her own struggle with being hard-of-hearing. She has a hearing aid that allows her to hear, but the hearing aide is large and awkward, and it ends up isolating her from her peers. More than anything, Cece wants to fit in, and she ends up finding a way to use what makes her different as a tool for forging friendships.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson — Astrid and Nicole have been best friends forever, but when Astrid goes to roller derby camp and Nicole goes to dance camp, Astrid starts to feel as though her friend is slipping away. In addition, Astrid struggles to keep up with the older girls at camp and make new friends while she’s there. This lovely story illustrates the hard changes that come with adolescence and shows how Astrid becomes stronger physically and mentally. This book is great for kids in grade 4 and older.
Coraline: The Graphic Novel by Neil Gaiman — One of my favorite Neil Gaiman books is also available as a gorgeous graphic novel. When Coraline steps through a magical door, she finds herself in a world that seems very similar to her own — only better. However, the more time Coraline spends there, the more she sees that something is off about this seemingly perfect world. Soon, she has to fight to return to the life that she once thought was ordinary and boring. I’d recommend this book for kids in grade 3 and older.
Kristy’s Great Idea by Ann M. Martin — I was OBSESSED with the Baby-Sitters Club as a kid, and now you can find them in graphic novel form! The first book in the series follows Kristy Thomas and her amazing entrepreneurial spirit as she works with her friends to turn their love of children into a business.
Target Practice by Mike Maihack — This first book in the Cleopatra in Space series is so much fun! The ancient princess finds an enchanted stone tablet that zaps her way into the future. She enrolls in a special school and works hard in the hopes of fulfilling a prophecy that predicts she will save the galaxy from the evil Xaius Octavian. This action-packed book teachers important lessons about true leadership.
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre — Claudette dreams of slaying a giant. Unfortunately, the village she lives in is annoyingly safe and boring. So Claudette decides to sneak away with her best friend and brother to find a giant that she can slay. Can they complete the task before Claudette’s parents realize they’re gone?
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson — What happens when you accidentally hit a unicorn with a rock? If you’re Phoebe, you get one wish granted! Phoebe uses her wish to force the unicorn she hit become her best friend. However, you can’t make a friendship happen with coercion, so the unlikely pair must learn how to truly relate to each other. Phoebe finds out that having a unicorn is nice, but having a friend is even better. I’d recommend this book for kids in grade 4 and older.
Rutabaga the Adventure Chef by Eric Colossal — Rutabaga is a chef, but he’s not just any chef. He’s a special chef with a magical pot named Pot, and he uses the power of cooking to fight off monsters and dragons and save the day. This silly story is full of strange and unusual foods kids many have never heard of, and it might even help your kids see new cuisine as an adventure! Click here for some more great books for picky eaters.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton — Narwahl and Jelly are two very different friends. Narwahl is carefree and fun-loving; Jelly is all business. However, when they’re together, they make a great team. This graphic novel about their adventures together paints a really beautiful picture of everything friendship should be. A great choice for early readers!
The Secret of the Sphinx by Geronimo Stilton — We love the Geronimo Stilton series novels, so I was thrilled to discover that there is also a series of Geronimo Stilton graphic novels! This book is the second in the series, and has Geronimo and his colorful family traveling back in time to Ancient Egypt to protect the Sphinx from the evil Pirate Cats. Quick note: I didn’t love the first book in this series because it dealt with Christopher Columbus in a way that wasn’t historically accurate. Every other book in the series has been a lot of fun!
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton III — Ace and Bub are two beaver brothers who are very different. Ace loves extreme sports, and Bub loves…napping. When a group of penguins threatens to take over their home and freeze it, these two flying beavers must work together to save their beloved island home.
Here I Am by Patti Kim — A little boy leaves his home across the ocean and arrives in a big American city. He’s overwhelmed by all of the sights and sounds, and he clings to his one keepsake from. This beautiful story follows an immigrant child as he adapts to his new environment and strives to make this unfamiliar place feel like home.
Akissi: Tales of Mischief by Marguerite Abouet — This book follows a young girl named Akissi through her days living in a small town in the Ivory Coast, Africa. As Akissi moves through simple tasks, she finds great adventure! Akissi strives to find the balance between having fun and getting into trouble as she explores the town with her varied cast of friends. This book is also on our list of Graphic Novels with Strong Female Characters.
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis — Julian is starting at a new school, which he sees as a chance to remake his image. He tries to hide his intelligence and passion for science, in the hopes that he won’t be branded a nerd. He ends up befriending Greta and Ben, two fellow secret science-lovers. They form the Secret Science Alliance, and they’re soon making new inventions and fighting an evil nemesis. My oldest says this is one of the best graphic novels he’s read.
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke — What do you do when you’ve been whisked away to another planet and your best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult? You rescue him, of course! This fun story shows how life can change in an instant, with just the push of a button. With just the right mix of substance and silliness and some top-notch art, this book is a great choice for reluctant readers.
Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm — Babymouse is a little rodent with a BIG imagination! She’s always looking for fun and excitement in her somewhat ordinary life. In this first book of the series, Babymouse wonders if she will get invited to Felicia Furrypaw’s sleepover, and navigates her friendship with her best friend Wilson.
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