The Ultimate Collection of Graphic Novels for Kids of All Ages
Graphic novels are such a popular reading format which means you can find graphic novels for kids of all ages. There are incredible options available for your early readers to students in high school.
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Ultimate List of Graphic Novels for All Ages
There are over 120 graphic novels on this list available for all ages. Scan the titles by age or dig into the entire list.
What Is A Graphic Novel?
According to the dictionary, a graphic novel is, “a novel in the form of comic strips.”
In fact, many people think of graphic novels as similar to comic strips because they use sequential art to tell a story. But graphic novels are not comic books because they are usually stories that stand on their own with more complex plots than a comic strip.
It’s important to understand graphic novels are a book format and not a genre. You can find graphic novels in various genres including historical fiction, biography, non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and more.
This makes it easy to add a graphic novel to your child’s reading list because no matter what genre they enjoy, there is a graphic novel available for them to read.
The Value of Graphic Novels for All Ages
Graphic novels are valuable literature for the unique way they blend storytelling with art. They are currently on the rise in popularity and while they are certainly enjoyed for pleasure, they are also beneficial to all ages. Some of the potential benefits of reading graphic novels include:
1. Attractive to Reluctant Readers. Graphic novels are often less intimidating for reluctant readers. There are plenty of illustrations and fewer words on each page, making it feel more accessible to a reluctant reader.
2. Build vocabulary. Illustrations and fewer words don’t necessarily mean simple vocabulary. In fact, because there are fewer words, they need to be well chosen. Many graphic novels contain plenty of upper-level vocabulary words.
3. Increase comprehension. Because the images work with the text to create meaning, the illustrations often include additional clues for the reader.
4. Think deeply. As they think about the various elements of a story, readers must think beyond the words on the page. They must look for signs and hints in the images that contribute to the story-telling elements.
5. Improve reading skills. One great way to improve reading skills is by reading and the text in a graphic novel most certainly counts!
6. Teach visual literacy. Our world is filled with images so learning to think critically about them is important. Graphic novels help readers develop this skill because the images are necessary to understand the story.
7. Act as an Introduction to Difficult Text. Older students and adults will find graphic novels available for higher-level texts such as Moby Dick, The Odyssey, Shakespeare, and more.
8. Develop empathy and emotional intelligence. The facial expressions and visuals that accompany the story in a graphic novel help readers better understand the various emotions being expressed. Graphic novels provide a platform to discuss emotions with kids.
9. Extra support for dyslexic or struggling readers. The images in a graphic novel provide context clues and additional support for readers. Readers do not have to rely solely on the text.
The Ultimate Collection Of Graphic Novels
Graphic Novels for Early Readers
These graphic novels are perfect for your early readers. Some are close to wordless while others have words perfect for an early reading level.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
by Ben Clanton
“Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do love waffles, parties, and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together.“
This is a sweet and simple story of a lost robot who is befriended by a little girl. She takes care of the robot and helps create a circle of robot friends for both of them.
I am a fan of Ben Hatke’s work and this delightful tale didn’t disappoint. The book is practically wordless so it is an excellent option for even early readers. The story is told through images and lots of onomatopoeia (words that make sounds). I believe your elementary school-aged child will enjoy this sweet story.
We Love Bubbles! (Bobo and Pup-Pup)
Publisher’s Description: “Did you ever have a friend who likes doing something that you find completely annoying? Well, Bobo and Pup-Pup both LOVE bubbles. Bubbles are the absolute best–on that they can agree! While Pup-Pup loves blowing them, Bobo LOVES popping them…way too much for Pup-Pup’s taste. It’s getting frustrating! Pup-Pup has a clever idea to stop Bobo from popping them. But, then Bobo gets carried away…literally!”
Mellybean and the Giant Monster
Publisher’s Description: “Melly loves to play games. All her feline friends want to do, though, is take a nap. So when she doesn’t leave them alone, the cats trick her into burying a shoe in the backyard. But the small prank turns into a big problem when Melly falls down the hole . . . and is magically transports her to another world!”
Mischief and Mayhem #1: Born to Be Bad
Mischief and Mayhem are villains who do everything from spoil movies to steal toilet paper. The only problem is that Missy lied on her hero application and has exactly zero superpowers, so she gets kicked out and only Melvira stands by her. But Melvira has her own agenda and soon Missy begins to realize that something isn’t right.
Publisher’s Description: “Reggie’s plan is to spend the whole summer brooding over his latest adventure gone wrong. But his friendly and curious neighbor, Emily, won’t let him sit alone and unhappy in his house forever! Despite their differences, these two monsters make the perfect pair of explorers. And with a map to make, a beach party to plan, and a sea monster to find, Reggie will have to learn to talk about his feelings and let new friends in!”
Owly: The Way Home
My Review: Owly is a kind owl who always helps those around him. Unfortunately, most of the animals are frightened by him because he is an owl. Everything changes when Owly meets Wormy and their friendship begins.
This graphic novel series is a great option even for the youngest of readers. Much of the story is told through pictures and even some of the conversation bubbles use pictures to communicate. Owly is a kind and delightful character and kids will enjoy the various friends he meets along the way. I highly recommend this one for your elementary schooler
Squish Super Amoeba
Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Squish is just your everyday grade school amoeba trying to navigate the world of family, friends, and school. This is the first book in a series of several Squish graphic novels.
Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds
A bit of a conceited crow, Arlo has a little friend, Pips, who isn’t afraid to tell him the truth. Together, these two birds visit the city and the beach where they hunt for food and shiny things. As they travel, they also discuss more serious topics like the amount of liter humans leave in their surroundings.
This is the first book in a fun graphic novel series for early readers. Facts about crows are found throughout the book that helps explain some of Arlo’s behaviors. This book was a fun read and I think younger readers will enjoy these two.
Hilda and the Troll
Hilda lives in an enchanting world full of trolls, little people, and magical creatures. Adventure is always around the corner as she explores her world and befriends various creatures. This first book in the series is a great introduction to Hilda and world.
I discussed this book in my weekly graphic novel book club for kids on Outschool. The 8-10-year-olds in my book club adored this book. What I loved most about this series is that Hilda’s adventures are wholesome and fun. The story is also filled with fun surprises and twists in addition to the fantastical creatures. I highly recommend this series for younger kids.
John Patrick Green
Publisher’s Description: “With their Very Exciting Spy Technology and their tried-and-true, toilet-based travel techniques, the InvestiGators are undercover and on the case! And on their first mission together, they have not one but two mysteries to solve! Can Mango and Brash uncover the clues, crack their cases, and corral the crooks―or will the criminals wriggle out of their grasp?”
A Trip to the Bottom of the World
A TOON Level One Book
Join Mouse and his explorer friend as they journey to Antarctica where they will meet a few animal friends and take a warm water swim. This is a simple story with enough repetitive language for the earliest readers, yet plenty of new words are introduced as well. The illustrations are engaging without being overwhelming for young readers.
Peter & Ernesto: The Lost Sloths
Adorable sloths, Peter and Ernesto, are best friends who lose their home when a hurricane destroys their tree. Join them on their adventures through the jungle to find a new home. Along the way, they’ll meet a few new friends and a few “not-so friends,” until they accomplish their goal.
This book is book two in a great graphic novel series for early readers. They will particularly enjoy the rhyming language found in a few places in this story. The characters are fun and their expressions are silly.
Binky the Space Cat
Binky is a space cat even though he has never really left the house. He knows that it is his mission to explore unknown places just like his humans do every day. Just when he is ready to blast off, he realizes that left something very important behind.
Donut Feed the Squirrels
Norma and Belly just want a donut but the food truck owner will not feed the squirrels, so they have to take matters into their own hands.
Young readers will adore Norma and Belly and their silly antics. After reading a ton of graphic novels for young readers, I have to say that this one is a favorite! I love the “punny” title, the well-done illustrations, and the fun adventures of these two squirrels. I was thrilled to see there are more titles in this series.
Binky the Space Cat
Publisher’s Description: “Binky is a space cat – at least in his own mind. He’s really a house cat who has never left the family “space station.” Unlike other house cats, Binky has a mission: to blast off into outer space (outside), explore unknown places (the backyard) and battle aliens (bugs). Binky must undergo rigorous training so he can repel the alien attacks that threaten his humans. As he builds his spaceship, he must be extremely careful with his blueprints – the enemy is always watching. Soon Binky is ready to voyage into outer space. His humans go out there every day and he’s sure they need a certified space cat to protect them. But just as he’s about to blast off with his co-pilot, Ted (stuffed mousie), Binky realizes that he’s left something very important behind … and it’s not the zero-gravity kitty litter.
In the first book in the Binky Adventure series, graphic-novel readers will delight in watching where this lovable and quirky cat’s imagination takes him.”
Noodleheads: Find Something Fishy
Ted Arnold and Martha Hamilton
The Noodleheads, Mac and Mac, are quite the pair of gullible brothers! In their adventures in this book, they are foiled by a fish and their friend.
This is book three in a series of graphic novels for young readers. The book is full of wordplay and jokes that kids will love. Readers will also enjoy pointing out the obvious situations that the noodlehead brothers completely miss.
Pepper & Boo: A Cat Surprise
Charise Mericle Harper
Pepper and Boo aren’t quite sure about the cat in the house. They are afraid of the cat and after the cat takes Boo’s bed, they aren’t sure Boo will ever get to nap!
This book is definitely meant for new readers. The story is told through simple sentences and uses plenty of words that repeat. Yet, the story remains enjoyable and fun.
Pizza and Taco: Who’s The Best?
Pizza and Taco are best friends, but they want to know which one is truly the best. Everyone is best at least one thing, but how will they know who is the best? They decide to take a vote to see who wins, but it isn’t as easy as they think.
Honestly, I just didn’t love this graphic novel for early readers. The concept of constantly fighting over who was the best was the entire premise of the book and it felt a little mean-spirited. It’s meant to be humorous, but it just wasn’t my jam. Pizza and Taco are also quite mean to hamburger, again it is done in a funny way, but I just didn’t love the potential messaging there.
I am quite possibly overthinking it all, but there are so many great options for kids to read that this wouldn’t be on the top of my personal list. There are other books in the series, so they might be more enjoyable.
Squidding Around: Fish Feud!
Squizzard has a big personality and his bossy, selfish behavior causes a fight with his best friend, Toothy. It takes him a little time, but he learns that being a friend means you don’t always have things your way.
Honestly, Squizzard’s behavior is slightly annoying to this adult reader, but the point is definitely made. I do like that he learns and improves himself by the end of this book. This book definitely opens up some good discussions about friendship and about bullying. I admit that I do hope Squizzard is a better-behaved squid in the rest of the series – HA!
Graphic Novels for Elementary School
These graphic novels are chosen specifically for readers in first through fifth grade but can be enjoyed by kids who are older or younger than that as well.
Publisher’s Description: “Twelve-year-old Cici has just moved from Taiwan to Seattle, and the only thing she wants more than to fit in at her new school is to celebrate her grandmother, A-má’s, seventieth birthday together.
Since she can’t go to A-má, Cici cooks up a plan to bring A-má to her by winning the grand prize in a kids’ cooking contest to pay for A-má’s plane ticket! There’s just one problem: Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food.
And after her pickled cucumber debacle at lunch, she’s determined to channel her inner Julia Child. Can Cici find a winning recipe to reunite with A-má, a way to fit in with her new friends, and somehow find herself too?”
Publisher’s Description: “Izzy has an incredible secret — she can enter the world of her new video game! She meets Rae, a robot who says Izzy is destined to save Dungeon City from the Big Boss. How is this possible?! And how can she fight for this virtual world when she’s got a whole real life to keep up with: her family (though she could do without her mom’s annoying cat), and her best friend, Eric. Things get even weirder when Izzy loses a life while inside the game, and she starts to worry about what might happen if she gets a Game Over for good. Meanwhile, Eric has been super upset with Izzy since she’s been keeping secrets and bailing on their plans. Can Izzy survive Dungeon City and save their friendship?”
Phoebe and Her Unicorn
Publisher’s Description: “It all started when a girl named Phoebe skipped a rock across a pond and accidentally hit a unicorn in the face. Improbably, this led to Phoebe being granted one wish, and she used it to make the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, her obligational best friend. But can a vain mythical beast and a nine-year-old daydreamer really forge a connection?”
Meet best friends Gabby Jordan, Priya Gupta, and Mindy Park. They may be different but they all love animals but they can’t have pets. Eventually, they decide to start their own dog walking company, but they soon learn that business has its own challenges.
CatStronauts: Mission Moon
The CatStronunts books are a series of books written by a US Astronaut. Join the best space cats on the planet in their adventures outside of this world.
Katya and her Meema are spending another summer at their cottage in Alaska, when a chance accident leaves Katya face-to-face with the biggest creature she’s ever seen… an enormous kodiak bear with a gentle heart and a knack for fishing. But when Katya must suddenly return home to Seattle, the two are torn apart, leaving Kodi to do whatever it takes to reunite with his fragile human friend. It’s a wild journey packed with breathtaking views, brave new companions, and adventure around every turn.
Dog Man is a New York Times bestseller. This is also the first in a series of graphic novels that are sure to make you laugh. Dog Man is part dog, part man, and all hero. This series explores the themes of kindness, empathy, and other positive themes.
The Boston Tea Party (Graphic History)
Matt Doeden & Charles Barnett III
This book is one of the many books in the Graphic History series. The books in these series are perfect companions for your elementary student in your history studies. You’ll find US history graphic novels on topics ranging from Jamestown to the Constitution to the Boston Tea Party.
Diana: Princess of the Amazons
Shannon and Dean Hale
Publisher’s Description: “Eleven-year-old Diana is the only child on the island of Themyscira. Wanting someone her own age to talk to, she takes matters into her own hands and creates a playmate out of clay. But things quickly get out of control and Diana must decide whether she’s made a new friend…or a monster!”
The Lunch Witch
Publisher’s Description: “Bad business has left the witch Grunhilda with no choice; she must find a new job. Her limited skill set leaves her with few options, though, for “nobody really believes in magic anymore.” On her first day as lunch lady for the local elementary school, her secret is discovered by an underachieving little girl who decides to blackmail her. Nonetheless, Grunhilda chooses to help, but her good intentions lead to trouble.”
Kitten Construction Company: Meet the House Kittens
John Patrick Green
Publisher’s Description: “Fed up with not being taken seriously because she’s so cute, Marmalade bands together with a handful of other aspiring builders―all of them kittens. But in a world where humans call the shots, can the Kitten Construction Company prove their worth . . . without giving up the very things that make them kittens?”
Every Saturday, Pawcasso buys groceries for his family. One afternoon, he meets Jo and people mistake her as Pawcasso’s owner. Jo allows everyone to believe the lie but eventually, it turns into a disaster.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible
Harriet Hamsterbone is not your typical princess because she finds royal life rather dull. Eventually, Harriet’s parents tell her that she was cursed at birth and doomed to prick her finger on a hamster wheel when she’s twelve and fall into a deep sleep. Harriet is thrilled to be invincible until she is 12 so she begins a life of adventure until the day her birthday arrives.
Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions―the topic of India is permanently closed.
For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film. But is this the real India? And what is that shadow lurking in the background? To learn the truth, Pri must travel farther than she’s ever dared and find the family she never knew.
Megan Wagner Lloyd
My Review: Maggie has always wanted a dog and she is devastated to learn that she is allergic. She is determined to find the perfect pet and try to make her dreams come true despite her allergies. Along the way, she has to work out her feelings about the new baby on the way and her best friend getting a dog.
I Survived The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912
This graphic novel series is perfect for readers who are new to the series or for existing fans of the I Survived chapter book series. The I Survived graphic novels combine historical facts with high-action storytelling that’s sure to keep any reader turning the pages.
My Review: The entire town has heard stories about the “giant who likes to eat baby feet.” Everyone is scared, except Claudette. Armed with her wooden sword, she is eager to travel to the hills and defeat the giant. She tricks two friends into joining her for this giant fighting expedition and together they face several adventures on their way to the giant.
The characters in this adventure graphic novel are full of energy and personality. As a result of their adventures, they become stronger friends and learn a little more about their individual strengths. I think these characters are a ton of fun. This book is a great tool to encourage reluctant readers. I highly recommend it.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales
My sons own every book in this series and some of the special versions. They read these historical graphic novels again and again. I finally read the one that takes place during WWI and learned a ton. It gave me plenty of insight as to why they love this series so much!
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
“Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered about their school lunch lady. What does she do when she isn’t dishing out the daily special? Where does she live? Does she have a lot of cats at home? Little do they know, Lunch Lady doesn’t just serve sloppy joes—she serves justice! Whatever danger lies ahead, it’s no match for LUNCH LADY!”
Publisher’s Description: “Ten-year-old Ted just wants to fit in. But his wild, red hair is a target for school bullies. Fortunately, he has his best friend, Stacy, to take his mind off all the mean comments. But Stacy needs Ted’s help to uncover the truth of a local urban legend—the elusive giant raccoon known as the Brookside Beast!”
Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends. They participate in the same clubs, enjoy the same foods, and are partners on all their school projects. But just before the girls start sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran — a girl who wants to join the chorus, run for class president, and dress in fashionable outfits that set her apart from Maureen. A girl who seems happy to share only two classes with her sister!
Maureen and Francine are growing apart and there’s nothing Maureen can do to stop it. Are sisters really forever? Or will middle school change things for good?
Pea, Bee, & Jay: Stuck Together
Brian “Smitty” Smith
Publisher’s Description: “Like all peas, Pea loves to roll. So when a no-good strawberry dares him to roll all the way off the farm, he swears he can do it—eazy me-zee!
But along the way, a powerful thunderstorm strikes and bounces Pea off course…and right into two unlikely new buds: a bee named Bee who thinks she knows it all, and a bird named Jay who can’t figure out how to fly.
On their own they may not look like much, but if this trio can stick together, they just might help Pea find his way back home!”
The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza
Publisher’s Description: “Something terrible is happening in the skies! Rats are eating the MOON!
There’s only ONE hero for the job, a bold and fearsome beast bioengineered in a secret lab to be the moon’s savior and Earth’s last hope! And that hero is . . . a cat. A cat who will be blasted into space!”
Warriors: Winds of Change (Warriors Graphic Novel Book 1)
Publisher’s Description: “Forced out of the forest that had been their home for generations, the four warrior Clans are about to settle into their new homes around the lake.
Some cats see their new beginning as a chance for the Clans to live together in peace and friendship, but WindClan’s deputy Mudclaw believes the other Clans cannot be trusted. And as he prepares to take the ailing Tallstar’s place as leader, he is determined to do whatever it takes to secure the future of his Clan—no matter the cost.”
“BOOM! CLANG! CRASH! D.J. and Gina are totally ordinary kids. But Hilo isn’t! Hilo just fell out of the sky and doesn’t know where he came from, or what he’s doing on Earth. (Or why going to school in only your underwear is a BAD idea!) . . . But UH-OH, what if Hilo wasn’t the only thing to fall to our planet? Can the trio unlock the secrets of Hilo’s past? Can Hilo SURVIVE a day at school? Find out in Hilo—a laugh-out-loud, epic story of friendship! Adventure! (And the occasionally mutant space robot).”
Babymouse: Queen of the World
by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The adventure? Nothing ever changes, until . . . Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World, a graphic novel with attitude!
Doodleville: Books 1 and 2
Join Drew and the rest of the art club kids on their adventures in the museum. Events are often unpredictable when art takes shape.
The Cardboard Kingdom
My Review: The Cardboard Kingdom is a favorite book series for all of the kids in this house. It’s full of creative and imaginative play with a varied cast of characters.
In book one, the characters are each introduced as the story arc moves forward so everyone has their moment in the spotlight inside the larger story. The characters have unique stories and obstacles to overcome in their own lives, but they are brought together by the kingdom they create. In book two, a beast threatens the kingdom after the monster costume was destroyed. Together, the kids also deal with neighborhood bullies.
Publisher’s Description: “Sue just wants to spend the summer reading and making comics at sleepaway camp with her friends, but instead she gets stuck going to Honduras to visit relatives with her parents and two sisters. They live way out in the country, which means no texting, no cable, and no Internet! The trip takes a turn for the worse when Sue’s mother announces that they’ll be having a surprise quinceañera for Sue, which is the last thing she wants. She can’t imagine wearing a big, floofy, colorful dress! What is Sue going to do? And how will she survive all this “quality” time with her rambunctious family?”
Black Heroes of the Wild West
James Otis Smith
This non-fiction graphic novel celebrates three black heroes of the Old West. Learn more about Mary Fields, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons and their amazing lives in the Wild West.
Sisters of the Mist
Publisher’s Description: “Frygea Forest… An ancient and mystical place where trolls lurk in the mossy spaces between tree trunks and changelings scamper about, causing mischief. A place that Kyra and her sisters Margot and Janna return to every year to spend the summer at their grandma’s farm: roasting marshmallows, catching frogs, and befriending tiny, grumpy root goblins.
But this summer is different, and as teenage Margot drifts apart from her sisters, slamming doors and keeping secrets, Kyra starts to worry. When Margot is enticed into the woods by the mysterious figures in the mist, Kyra resolves to do everything in her power to save her sister from danger, even if that means facing the spooky forces within Frygea Forest with just her kid sister for help.”
Sort of Super
Wyatt Flynn has superpowers, but he got them by mistake and his father makes him hide them. Keeping his powers a secret from his best friends is hard, but it is even more difficult not to fight the bully at school. His sister doesn’t think he needs to hide his powers and they team up to form a dynamic duo! But how long can Wyatt lie to his dad?
Lightfall: The Girl and the Galdurian
Publisher’s Description: “Deep in the heart of the planet Irpa stands the Salty Pig’s House of Tonics & Tinctures, home of the wise Pig Wizard and his adopted granddaughter, Bea. As keepers of the Endless Flame, they live a quiet and peaceful life, crafting medicines and potions for the people of their once-prosperous world.
All that changes one day when, while walking through the woods, Bea meets Cad, a member of the Galdurians, an ancient race thought to be long-extinct. Cad believes that if anyone can help him find his missing people, it’s the Pig Wizard.
But when the two arrive home, the Pig Wizard is nowhere to be found—all that’s left is the Jar of Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Fearing for the Pig Wizard’s safety, Bea and Cad set out across Irpa to find him, while danger fights its way out of the shadows and into the light.
Will these two unexpected friends find the beloved Pig Wizard and prevent eternal darkness from blanketing their world? Or has Irpa truly seen its last sunrise?
Publisher’s Description: “Miles and Rhys know each other only as Gryphon and Backslash, and in the video game Mecha Melee they’re an unstoppable team. They’re the best friends they’ve got, online or in the real world, and they don’t even realize they go to the same middle school.
But real-life wrongdoing blasts their duo into a crater the size of Arcticon. With life online and off a complete mess and BattleCon—and the Every Game Ever tournament—just weeks away, can the boys play their way back to each other?”
Publisher’s Description: “Princesses stay quietly and obediently at home. They would never want mermaids and swamps and pirates and getting kidnapped to be a part of their lives.
Not this princess!
Adventures await when Robin (bored of princess-ing all the time) embarks on the best adventure of her life–meeting friends along the way as she travels through the magical landscape of her country. But her parents aren’t so pleased–and they’re coming to find her and bring her back to the castle, no matter how she feels about it!”
Marshmallow & Jordan
Publisher’s Description: “Jordan’s days as star player for her school’s basketball team ended when an accident left her paralyzed from the waist down. Now, she’s still the team captain, but her competition days seem to be behind her…until an encounter with a mysterious elephant, who she names Marshmallow, helps Jordan discover a brand new sport.
Will water polo be the way for Jordan to continue her athletic dreams–or will it just come between Jordan and her best friends on the basketball team? And with the big tournament right around the corner, what secret is Marshmallow hiding?”
Publisher’s Description: “Meet Red, a quirky, headstrong 10-year-old who longs to live in her own perfect paradise far away from her annoying foster family. But when a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her, Red finds herself farther away than she could have possibly imagined—across the galaxy and aboard an enormous spaceship owned by the Aquilari, an ancient creature with a taste for rare and unusual treasures.
Before Red can be discovered as a stowaway, the great ship crashes on a small deserted planet, leaving her marooned with a menagerie of misfit aliens. With her newfound friend, a small gray alien named Tawee, Red must find a way to survive the hostile castaways, evade the ravenous wildlife, and contend with Goose, the planet’s grumpy, felinoid custodian. Surely this can’t be the paradise she’s been hoping for.”
No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest
Publisher’s Description: “Bix and Pella are goblins sisters with very different dispositions. Bix is a worrywart who is most content when she’s home knitting. Her little sister, Pella, is an impetuous thrill seeker who is always getting in trouble. When Pella’s thirst for adventure leads her into the Enchanted Forest―a strange and dangerous place that no goblin has ever safely returned from―Bix is forced to leave her comfort zone to save her. Elemental demigods and countless hungry monsters stand in her way, but Bix is about to learn that even a worrywart can become a hero.”
Kate Karyus Quinn
Publisher’s Description: “When a mission to steal an experimental technological device brings the two girls face to face with each other, the device sparks, and the two girls switch bodies! Now they must live in each other’s shoes as they figure out a way to switch back.
Anti/Hero is a story that explores what makes a hero, how one can find friendship where it’s unexpected, and what it means to walk in another person’s shoes…literally!”
Claribel A. Ortega
Publisher’s Description: “Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and “growing up.” That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have “presentable”, “good hair”.
But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby―she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.”
Play Like a Girl
Publisher’s Description: “Misty never shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got.
But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team. Can Misty find a way to score points with her teammates, make new friends, and show everyone—including herself—what it means to play like a girl?”
Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess, The Case of the Left-Handed Lady, and The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
Publisher’s Description: “14-year-old Enola Holmes wakes on her birthday to discover that her mother has disappeared from the family’s country manor, leaving only a collection of flowers and a coded message book. With Sherlock and Mycroft determined to ship her off to a boarding school, Enola escapes, displaying a cleverness that even impresses the elder Holmes. But nothing prepares her for what lies ahead…”
Big Nate: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (Big Nate Comix, 1)
Will Nate get away with his master plan? Or will Mrs. Godfrey catch him in the act? Find out what happens next!
Graphic Novels for Middle School
This collection of graphic novels contains themes, characters, and situations to spark interest from middle school readers. Keep in mind that many of the books written for middle grades can be enjoyed by upper elementary students as well.
Bree is excited for her first day of middle school until she is stuck with Swim 101. Bree is terrified but Etta, an older woman in Bree’s apartment building, is willing to help. Soon Bree finds that her community is counting on her to help them become a winning team.
Cory’s dance crew is getting ready for their last major dance competition before they graduate eighth grade. Unfortunately, the Cory gets grounded and is stuck with a tutor. His tutor, Sunna, is a yo-yo expert and Cory becomes increasingly interested in learning more yo-yo tricks. His friendship with Sunna grows until he is struggling to handle everyone’s expectations of him.
The City of Ember (Graphic Novel)
Adapted by Dallas Middaugh; Written by Jeanne DuPrau
Publisher’s Description: “In the spring 2003, kids, parents, teachers, librarians—whole communities—discovered and fell in love with Jeanne DuPrau’s story about a doomed city, and the two children who found a way out. Nearly 10 years later, that story, The City of Ember, is a bona fide classic, with over 1.7 million copies sold. Now experience Jeanne DuPrau’s vision anew as artist Niklas Asker faithfully brings to life the glare of the lamps, the dinginess of the streets, and the brilliance of the first sunrise.”
Publisher’s Description: “Zuli is extraordinary—she just doesn’t realize it yet. Raised by mystical bird spirits in the branches of the Great Tree, she’s never ventured beyond this safe haven. She’s never had to. Until now.
When a sinister force threatens the life-giving magic of the tree, Zuli, along with her guardian owl, Frowly, must get to the root of it. So begins an adventure bigger than anything Zuli could’ve ever imagined—one that will bring her, along with some newfound friends, face-to-face with an ancient dragon, the so-called Witch-Queen, and most surprisingly of all: her true identity.”
The Legend of Brightblade
Ethan M. Aldridge
Publisher’s Description: “The kingdom may be at peace now, but Prince Alto believes that the world still needs heroes. He has been learning the bard’s magic, and has grown restless with royal life. Determined to have an adventure of his own, Alto runs away from the palace.
On his journey, he finds himself making new friends and encountering new and exciting magic. But when he discovers that there are dangers threatening the kingdom, Alto realizes that he might not be able to handle them alone—and making his mark as a hero is harder than the stories made it seem.”
It’s the night before dress rehearsal, and the school theater troupe is working late and very hungry. Eleven-year-old twins Axl and Ivan—along with their sixteen-year-old driver, Sid—volunteer to make a late-night fast-food run. At the drive-through, their tacos start to . . . move. And they don’t seem friendly. Even after they get rid of the food, the world around them isn’t quite right. There are strangely moving cars, buildings, and people—and they seem intent on swallowing everything in their path. Now the trio will have to use their wits, their truck, and even their windshield scraper to escape . . . before they’re replaced by monstrous versions of themselves!
Anne of West Philly
Ivy Noelle Weir
Publsiher’s Description: “When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to foster a teenage girl for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Their redheaded foster daughter, Anne Shirley, is in search of an exciting life and has decided that West Philly is where she’s going to find it. Armed with a big personality and unstoppable creativity, Anne takes her new home by storm as she joins the robotics club, makes new friends in Diana and Gilbert, experiences first love, and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. But as Anne starts to get comfortable, she discovers one thing she wasn’t looking for: a family.”
Besties: Work It Out (The World of Click)
Kayla Miller and Jeffrey Canino
Publisher’s Description: “Meet Beth and Chanda, two stylish best friends on their way to building their fashion empire! An unexpected business opportunity presents itself when the girls are asked to dogsit at Ms. Langford’s luxurious house while she’s away, but it quickly turns into a disaster after an accident leaves one of Ms. Langford’s prized possessions in pieces.
Now Beth and Chanda have to take on as many odd jobs as they can in order to afford a replacement. Car washing, book sales, interior decorating—you name it, Beth and Chanda are there! Will they be able to patch up their mistake in time?”
Volume 1 of OLYMPIANS, ZEUS: King OF THE GODS, introduces readers to the ruler of the Olympian Pantheon, telling his story from his boyhood to his ascendance to supreme power.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel
Rick Riordan & Attila Futaki
This is a fantastic graphic version of the first Percy Jackson book in the series. Percy has been accused of stealing Zues’ lightning bolt and he is determined to clear his name. He, Annabeth, and Grover set off on an adventure full of unexpected events and monsters.
City of Dragons
Publisher’s Description: “Grace and her friends must protect a newly hatched dragon from mysterious evildoers. When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and new stepdad, her biggest concern is making friends at her fancy new boarding school. But when a mysterious old woman gifts her a dragon egg during a field trip, Grace discovers that the wonderful stories of dragons she heard when she was a young girl might actually be real–especially when the egg hatches overnight.
The dragon has immense powers that Grace has yet to understand. And that puts them both in danger from mysterious forces intent on abusing the dragon’s power. And now it’s up to Grace and her school friends to uncover the sinister plot threatening the entire city!”
Redwall: The Graphic Novel
Publisher’s Description: “The classic fantasy adventure that began the Redwall phenomenon is finally available in a cool graphic format. Illustrated by renowned comics artist Bret Blevins, Redwall: The Graphic Novel brings to life all the battles, all the heroes, and all the villains in a fun new format perfect for reluctant readers, those just entering the Redwall world, or the countless existing fans of the series.”
The Oracle Code
After a gunshot leaves her paralyzed below the waist, Barbara Gordon undergoes physical and mental rehabilitation at the Arkham Center for Independence. She must adapt to a new normal, but she cannot shake the feeling that something is dangerously amiss. Strange sounds escape at night while patients start to go missing.
Is this suspicion simply a result of her trauma? Or does Barbara actually hear voices coming from the center’s labyrinthine hallways? It’s up to her to put the pieces together to solve the mysteries behind the walls.
Katie the Catsitter Book 2: Best Friends For Never
Colleen AF Venable
Publisher’s Description: “Katie loves skating with the Wheelas and the fact that she’s officially a superhero sidekick. But now that school’s starting, everything’s changing. The Mousetress is getting blamed for things Katie knows she didn’t do. Sidekick training is NOT as exciting as she’d hoped. Katie’s best friend Beth is back in town and Beth’s new boyfriend is always hanging around (ugh!). Not to mention that all of Katie’s friends are mad at her. Fixing this will be harder than any skateboarding trick. But with the help of 217 slightly out-of-the-ordinary cats, Katie’s going to try!
Can she clear the Mousestress’s name, uncover the real supervillain, and become the sidekick (and the friend) she’s always dreamed of being?”
Kristy’s Great Idea: A Graphic Novel (Babysitter’s Club #1)
Raina Telemeier and Ann M. Martin
Publisher’s Description: “Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are best friends and founding members of The Baby-sitters Club. Whatever comes up — cranky toddlers, huge dogs, scary neighbors, prank calls — you can count on them to save the day. Baby-sitting isn’t always easy, and neither is dealing with strict parents, new families, fashion emergencies, and mysterious secrets. But no matter what, the BSC have what they need most: friendship.”
Turtle in Paradise (Graphic Novel)
Jennifer L. Holm and Savanna Ganucheau
Publisher’s Description: “Eleven-year-old Turtle is smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it’s 1935 and money—and sometimes even dreams—is scarce. So when Turtle’s mother gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn’t like kids, Turtle heads off to Florida to live with relatives. Florida’s like nothing Turtle’s ever seen before, though. It’s full of ragtag boy cousins, family secrets to unravel . . . and even a little bit of fun. Before she knows what’s happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of her shell. And as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.”
Publisher’s Description: “Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad. Most of all, Jen did not want to get new “sisters,” Andy and Reese.
As if learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn’t hard enough, having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers’ market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in.”
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer
Publisher’s Description: “Jamila Waheed is staring down a lonely summer in a new neighborhood–until she meets Shirley Bones. Sure, Shirley’s a little strange, but both girls need a new plan for the summer, and they might as well become friends.
Then this kid Oliver shows up begging for Shirley’s help. His pet gecko has disappeared, and he’s sure it was stolen! That’s when Jamila discovers Shirley’s secret: She’s the neighborhood’s best kid detective, and she’s on the case. When Jamila discovers she’s got some detective skills of her own, a crime-solving partnership is born.
The mystery of the missing gecko turns Shirley and Jamila’s summer upside down. And when their partnership hits a rough patch, they have to work together to solve the greatest mystery of all: What it means to be a friend.”
Sunny Side Up
Jennifer L. Holm
Sunny Lewin is living with her grandfather in Florida for the summer but it isn’t as fun as she was hoping. That changes when she meets Buzz who is completely obsessed with comics. Soon they are having their own fun and adventures, but eventually Sunny must get an answer to the question of why she was really sent to Florida all summer.
Just Roll With It
Maggie just wants to get through her first year of middle school. But between finding the best after-school clubs, trying to make friends, and avoiding the rumored monster on school grounds, she’s having a tough time…so she might need a little help from her twenty-sided dice. But what happens if Maggie rolls the wrong number?
Tom’s Midnight Garden
Publisher’s Description: “When Tom’s brother gets sick, he’s shipped off to spend what he’s sure will be a boring summer with his aunt and uncle in the country. But then Tom hears the old grandfather clock in the hall chime thirteen times, and he’s transported back to an old garden where he meets a young, lonely girl named Hatty.
Tom returns to the garden every night to have adventures with Hatty, who mysteriously grows a little older with each visit. As the summer comes to an end, Tom realizes he wants to stay in the garden with Hatty forever.
My Review: This series is a favorite with the tweens in my house. Awkward is the first book in this series of graphic novels that take place at Berrybrook Middle School.
The other two books in the series are Crush by Svetlana Chmakova and Brave by Svetlana Chmakova. My kids love all three in this series and shared that you can read them in any order.
The Seventh Voyage: A Graphic Novel
Publisher’s Description: “Alone in his broken spaceship-with no one there to help him-he could remain trapped in space indefinitely! But soon something strange begins to happen: Tichy’s past and future selves appear. And rather than helping one another, they bicker and fight as they crowd into the tiny vessel. Will Tichy stop fighting with himself long enough to save his own life?”
Bone: Out from Boneville
Publisher’s Description: “After being run out of Boneville, the three Bone cousins — Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone — are separated and lost in a vast, uncharted desert. One by one, they find their way into a deep, forested valley filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. Eventually, the cousins are reunited at a farmstead run by tough Gran’ma Ben and her spirited granddaughter, Thorn. But little do the Bones know, there are dark forces conspiring against them and their adventures are only just beginning!”
Ethan M. Aldridge
This epic graphic novel is perfect for fans of Amulet (another popular graphic novel series).
Publisher’s Description: “…when the cruel sorceress Hawthorne seizes the throne, the Childe and Edmund must unite on a dangerous quest to save both worlds—even if they’re not sure which world they belong to.”
All’s Faire in Middle School
Publisher’s Description: “Impy has always thought of herself as a heroic knight, but when she does something really mean in order to fit in, she begins to wonder whether she might be more of a dragon after all.”
In Button Pusher, cartoonist Tyler Page uses his own childhood experiences to explore what it means to grow up with ADHD. From diagnosis to treatment and beyond, Tyler’s story is raw and enlightening, inviting you to see the world from a new perspective.
Sunny Side Up
Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
This graphic novel deals with the topic of substance abuse by family members. Sunny’s brother is struggling with substance abuse and Sunny is packed off to live with her grandparents for the summer. My daughter really enjoyed this one and we had some great conversations following her reading.
Publisher’s Description: “Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility—he wanted adventure!
A captain at eighteen and a major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the Revolution going on in America, he went overseas and fought alongside Alexander Hamilton and George Washington for America’s independence.”
This story is a beautiful, impressionistic retelling of the classic fairy-tale, set in depression-era NY.
Miles Morales: Shock Waves
Justin A. Reynolds
Publisher’s Description: “Miles Morales is a normal kid who happens to juggle school at Brooklyn Visions Academy while swinging through the streets of Brooklyn as Spider-Man. After a disastrous earthquake strikes his mother’s birthplace of Puerto Rico, Miles springs into action to help set up a fundraiser for the devastated island. But when a new student’s father goes missing, Miles begins to make connections between the disappearance and a giant corporation sponsoring Miles’ fundraiser. Who is behind the disappearance, and how does that relate to Spider-Man?”
Target Practice: Cleopatra in Space #1
Publisher’s Description: “When Cleo finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, really far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!”
Zita the Spacegirl
My Review: My kids are the ones who introduced me to Zita and I am so glad they did. This graphic novel is full of delightful and unique characters who assist Zita in her quest to rescue her friend, Joseph. Not only is the story a fun adventure ride, but the themes of friendship and selflessness are good ones to discuss with kids.
The artwork is colorful and fun. In addition, the author/illustrator is creative in his use of panels and gutters. His double-page spread panels are well done and beautifully drawn. The artwork keeps you reading as much as the plot.
My Review: This twist on the classic fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk, makes for a fantastic adventure. Jack, Maddie (his sister), and Lily form a delightful trio and their magical garden adventures are a ton of fun. The artwork is bright and imaginative and the author uses graphic novel panels in creative ways.
The Mighty Jack series is considered a Young Adult graphic novel, so parents should consider the content before allowing younger children to read this adventure (there is a brief kiss and some language).
Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl
Publisher’s Description: “Jack and Lilly are no strangers to heroics. They’ve befriended dragons, battled giants, and even earned the loyalty of a goblin army. So when they meet Zita the Spacegirl, fresh from her interplanetary travels and seeking their help to face a new threat, they’re more than ready for another adventure.
But the danger growing just outside the door to their world is greater than anything the new friends could have imagined. An army of giants and screeds stands ready to lay siege to Earth, determined to put the age of humans to an end.
With the gate between worlds growing weaker and time running out, can the heroes come together to save their world from their greatest enemy yet?”
Older Than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth
Publisher’s Description: “Almost 14.5 billion years ago, it all started with a BIG BANG and what began as a cloud of gas, dust, and rock eventually took shape and bloomed into a molten sphere. Battered by asteroid collisions, ice ages, and shifting tectonic plates, our fledgling planet finally pushed forth continents. But if you think the earth has calmed down since then—think again! Geological activity continues to sculpt the earth’s landscape, sometimes with terrible consequences for its inhabitants: earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis.”
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes
My Review: Seven short stories written by various graphic novel artists attempt to answer the question, “What’s in the box?” No one answers it in quite the same way so it is fun to read each of the unique takes.
This graphic novel is about a deaf child’s experience in the classroom with all hearing students. All of my kids read this one and it is an all-time favorite book in this house. My mother, a sign language interpreter in the school system for years, read this book and thought it was one of the best she has read when it comes to capturing the experience of a deaf student.
This one is a funny tale of one boy who tries to get his crush’s attention but discovers her hidden secret.
Publisher’s Description: “When AJ and Nia are paired up for a group project on Transylvania, it may be AJ’s chance to win over Nia’s affection by dressing up like the vamp of her dreams. And soon enough he’s got more of Nia’s attention than he bargained for when he learns she’s a slayer.”
Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Publisher’s Description: “Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen’s #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others.”
Shannon and Dean Hale
Publisher’s Description: “Rapunzel escapes her tower-prison all on her own, only to discover a world beyond what she’d ever known before. Determined to rescue her real mother and to seek revenge on her kidnapper would-be mother, Rapunzel, and her very long braids team up with Jack (of Giant killing fame) and together they perform daring deeds and rescues all over the western landscape, eventually winning the justice they so well deserve.”
This was Our Pact
This graphic novel takes place during the Autumn Equinox Festival and the release of paper lanterns down the river. A group of friends is determined to discover if the legend of the lanterns is true.
Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin
Publisher’s Description: “Ebo is alone. His brother, Kwame, has disappeared, and Ebo knows it can only be to attempt the hazardous journey to Europe, and a better life―the same journey their sister set out on months ago. But Ebo refuses to be left behind in Ghana. He sets out after Kwame and joins him on the quest to reach Europe. Ebo’s epic journey takes him across the Sahara Desert to the dangerous streets of Tripoli, and finally out to the merciless sea. But with every step he holds on to his hope for a new life, and a reunion with his family.”
Publisher’s Description: “Olive wants to get in on the act . . . . . . Any act! Olive “clicks” with everyone in the fifth grade—until one day she doesn’t. When a school variety show leaves Olive stranded without an act to join, she begins to panic, wondering why all her friends have already formed their own groups . . . without her. With the performance drawing closer by the minute, will Olive be able to find her own place in the show before the curtain comes up?”
Smile, Drama, and Ghosts
These three graphic novels are choices that my children absolutely adore. All three titles include fun storylines that are perfect for middle schoolers.
The Witch Boy
Molly Knox Ostertag
This is the story of Aster’s family in a magical world that has rules about the magic assigned to girls and the magic assigned to boys. This book sensitively explores gender roles and could open up a discussion with your tween.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant
This story is a modern-day twist on the classic Russian tale of Baba Yaga.
The Adventures of John Blake: Mystery of the Ghost Ship
Publisher’s Description: “Trapped in the mists of time by a terrible research experiment gone wrong, John Blake and his mysterious ship are doomed to sail between the centuries, searching for a way home. In the ocean of the modern day, John rescues a shipwrecked young girl his own age, Serena, and promises to help. But returning Serena to her own time means traveling to the one place where the ship is in most danger of destruction. The all-powerful Dahlberg Corporation has an ambitious leader with plans far greater and more terrible than anyone has realized, and he is hot on their trail. For only John, Serena, and the crew know Dahlberg’s true intentions, and only they have the power to stop him from bending the world to his will . . .”
Swan Lake: Quest for Kingdoms
Odette and Dillie were born in kingdoms that have been feuding since before they were born, yet they have become best friends. Once they discover the reason for their families feuding (Odette’s curse), they are determined to make things right. Along the way, they’ll travel through enchanted lands and meet both friends and foes.
Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.
But after Moon moves in next door, these unlikely friends are soon best friends, sharing their favorite music videos and painting their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she has visions, sometimes, of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
Moon’s visions have an all-too-earthly root, however, and soon Christine’s best friend is in the hospital, fighting for her life. Can Christine be the friend Moon needs, now, when the sky is falling?
When Stars Are Scattered
Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
Publisher’s Description: “Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.”
The Great American Dust Bowl
Publisher’s Description: “On a clear, warm Sunday, April 14, 1935, a wild wind whipped up millions upon millions specks of dust to form a duster—a savage storm—on America’s high southern plains.
The sky turned black, sand-filled winds scoured the paint off houses and cars, trains derailed, and electricity coursed through the air. Sand and dirt fell like snow—people got lost in the gloom and suffocated… and that was just the beginning.”
The Dam Keeper
Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
My Review: Pig and his father are the Dam Keepers who keep the city safe from the deadly black fog. Unfortunately, one-day Pig’s father disappears into the black fog, leaving Pig to take care of the city on his own. The fog is getting stronger and disaster is on the horizon. Eventually, Pig finds himself on an adventure with Fox and Hippo as they learn what secrets can be found beyond the dam.
This children’s graphic novel surprised me with its gorgeous artwork. The scenes are beautiful with strong images of light and dark. It also surprised me how creepy these illustrations and the story might be for sensitive kids. Be sure to preview this book if you want to give it to a younger or sensitive child.
If you do read it with your kids, it is a great opportunity to discuss ways that the artwork contributes to the mood in a story. You can also make predictions about the fog and Pig’s father because this is book one in a Dam Keeper trilogy.
Amulet Book One: The Stonekeeper
The Amulet books are a little darker than some of the other books on this list, so definitely use your discretion. Book one begins with the death of a parent so keep that in mind for your sensitive little ones, but the series is a fantastic fantasy adventure that my kids continued to enjoy even as they got older.
There’s a new kid in town! From the moment Natasha sets foot in class, it’s clear she’s one of the coolest kids in sixth grade. Everyone wants to be her friend, including Olive . . . but things might not be so easy.
Olive tries her best to befriend Nat, but it seems like the only thing they have in common is that they both want to hang out with Olive’s friends! Watching as Natasha gets closer with some of her best buds, Olive can’t help but worry that they’re starting to like Nat more than they like her . . . and who could blame them? Nat is just that cool . . . and Olive is, well, just Olive.
Wings of Fire: The Dragonet Prophecy (graphic novel)
Tui T. Sutherland
Publisher’s Description: “Not every dragonet wants a destiny … Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends. So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny — on their own terms. The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.”
The Solid Truth About States of Matter
Agnieszka Jòzefina Biskup, Michael Kelleher, Cynthia Martin, and Barbara Schultz
The Solid Truth About States of Matter is one book in a series of Graphic Science books, similar to the Graphic History books. You’ll find topics ranging from ecosystems to electricity to the states of matter.
Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel
Publisher’s Description: “The magic of L.M. Montgomery’s treasured classic is reimagined in a whimsically-illustrated graphic novel adaptation perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike.”
Graphic novels are not just for younger kids. In fact, there are plenty of graphic novels created for high school students that even adults will enjoy! Some of the graphic novels on this list can be enjoyed by your middle school reader as well.
The Hobbit (Graphic Novel)
By: J. R. R. Tolkein and Adapted by: Charles Dixon
Join Bilbo, Gandalf, Thorin, and the rest of the company on their quest to kill the dragon, Smaug. Along the way, they’ll encounter trolls, spiders, goblins, and more. Enjoy the graphic version of this classic tale.
The Illiad and The Odyssey
Publisher’s Description: “Fresh from his triumphs in the Trojan War, Odysseus, King of Ithaca, wants nothing more than to return home to his family. Instead, he offends the sea god, Poseidon, who dooms him to years of shipwreck and wandering. Battling man-eating monsters, violent storms, and the supernatural seductions of sirens and sorceresses, Odysseus will need all his strength and cunning—and a little help from Mount Olympus—to make his way home and seize his kingdom from the schemers who seek to wed his queen and usurp his throne. “
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
Publisher’s Description: “On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s monstrous winds and surging water overwhelmed the protective levees around low-lying New Orleans, Louisiana. Eighty percent of the city flooded, in some places under twenty feet of water. Property damages across the Gulf Coast topped $100 billion. One thousand eight hundred and thirty-three people lost their lives. The riveting tale of this historic storm and the drowning of an American city is one of selflessness, heroism, and courage—and also of incompetence, racism, and criminality.”
American Born Chinese
Gene Luen Yang
Publisher Description: “A tour-de-force by New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he’s the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.”
Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg
Publisher’s Description: “Long ago, in a small village in the middle of a deep, dark forest, there lived a lonely, deaf girl named Maggie. Shunned by her village because of her disability, her only comfort comes from her vivid imagination. Maggie has a gift for inventing stories and dreams of one day finding her fairy-tale love.
When Maggie meets the mysterious Piper, it seems that all her wishes are coming true. Spellbound, Maggie falls hard for him and plunges headfirst into his magical world. But as she grows closer to the Piper, Maggie discovers that he has a dark side.
The boy of Maggie’s dreams might just turn out to be her worst nightmare…”
March: Book One
John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Publisher’s Description: “Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.”
The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
Publisher’s Description: “A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.”
1984: The Graphic Novel
George Orwell & Fido Nesti
Publsiher’s Description: “In 1984, London is a grim city in the totalitarian state of Oceania where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police can practically read your mind. Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions. Drawn into a forbidden love affair, Winston finds the courage to join a secret revolutionary organization called the Brotherhood, dedicated to the destruction of the Party. Together with his beloved Julia, he hazards his life in a deadly match against the powers that be.”
Publisher’s Description: Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.
Publisher’s Description: “Classic literature meets contemporary style in a vibrant introduction to five of Shakespeare’s most popular plays. These engaging graphic novels, complete with captions in accessible modern English and key excerpts from the original dialogue, bring the Bard’s dramatic scenes to life. A glossary at the foot of each page helps with any challenging vocabulary without disrupting the pleasurable reading experience. The five plays include: Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
A Christmas Carol: The Graphic Novel
Adapted by: Sean Michael Wilson; Written By: Charles Dickens
Publisher’s Description: “One Christmas Eve, after being particularly cruel to his employee, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, who tells him that he will be visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, Future. Each ghost shows him things that rekindle the joy and spirit of Christmas within his heart and awaken his goodwill toward his fellow man. In typical fashion, Dickens deals with social injustice in a way that transcends the 19th century. This illustrated version of the classic holiday tale is brought to life with an illustrated Character List (like a Dramatis Personae), 134 pages of color story artwork, and fascinating support material that details the life and work of Charles Dickens as well as information on Victorian England.”
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir
Being raised by a single mother in Seoul, Korea means that it has always felt like Robin and her mom against the world. But that all changes with a visit to Alabama where Robin’s mom announces a wedding, making the move a permanent one. Robin’s entire life changes in an instant and she feels lost. All of that changes when she is enrolled in a local comic drawing class which opens a door into a future Robin never imagined.
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Publisher’s Description: “In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.”
I Kill Giants
Publisher’s Description: “I Kill Giants tells the story of Barbara Thorson, an acerbic fifth-grader so consumed with fantasy that she doesn’t just tell people that she kills giants with an ancient Norse Warhammer ― she starts to believe it herself. The reasons for Barbara’s troubled behavior are revealed through the course of the book, as she learns to reconcile her fantasy life with the real world.
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
Publisher’s Description: “Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party is gaining strength and becoming more menacing every day. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor upset by the complacency of the German church toward the suffering around it, forms a breakaway church to speak out against the established political and religious authorities. When the Nazis outlaw the church, he escapes as a fugitive. Struggling to reconcile his faith and the teachings of the Bible with the Nazi Party’s evil agenda, Bonhoeffer decides that Hitler must be stopped by any means possible!”
They Called Us Enemy
George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott
In 1942, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was relocated to one of ten “relocation centers” far from their own home. Many Japanese Americans would spend years living in these centers under orders from President Franklin D. Roosevelt. One of those Japanese Americans was famous Star Trek actor, George Takei. This story is his first-hand account of growing up behind the barbed wire under a system of legalized racism.
Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy
Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen
Publisher’s Description: “Friendship to the max! Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!”
The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Pete Katz
Publisher’s Description: “In this colorful graphic adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, readers are drawn into a tale rich with the universal themes of passion, class struggle, and the pursuit of the American dream. At the height of the Jazz Age in the 1920s, the young millionaire Jay Gatsby hosts extravagant parties at his Long Island mansion, but his true persona is an enigma to even his next-door neighbor Nick Carraway. Illustrator Pete Katz’s stunning scenes capture all the glamour and heartache of Gatsby’s life in brilliant detail, introducing a new generation of readers to Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.”
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
Publisher’s Description: “Don Brown depicts moments of both heartbreaking horror and hope in the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. Shining a light on the stories of the survivors, The Unwanted is a testament to the courage and resilience of the refugees and a call to action for all those who read.”
To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel
Harper Lee and Fred Fordham
Publisher’s Description: “A haunting portrait of race and class, innocence and injustice, hypocrisy and heroism, tradition and transformation in the Deep South of the 1930s, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird remains as important today as it was upon its initial publication in 1960, during the turbulent years of the Civil Rights movement.”
Anne Frank’s Diary
Ari Folman and Anne Frank
Publisher’s Description: “For both young readers and adults The Diary continues to capture the remarkable spirit of Anne Frank, who for a time survived the worst horror the modern world has seen—and who remained triumphantly and heartbreakingly human throughout her ordeal.”
The Handmaid’s Tale (A Graphic Novel)
Margaret Atwood & Renee Nault
Publisher’s Description: “In Margaret Atwood’s dystopian future, environmental disasters and declining birthrates have led to a Second American Civil War. The result is the rise of the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime that enforces rigid social roles and enslaves the few remaining fertile women. Offred is one of these, a Handmaid bound to produce children for one of Gilead’s commanders. Deprived of her husband, her child, her freedom, and even her own name, Offred clings to her memories and her will to survive.”
Animal Farm: The Graphic Novel
George Orwell & Odyr
Publisher’s Description: “In 1945, George Orwell, called “the conscience of his generation,” created an enduring, devastating story of new tyranny replacing old, and power corrupting even the noblest of causes. Today it is all too clear that Orwell’s masterpiece is still fiercely relevant wherever cults of personality thrive, truths are twisted by those in power, and freedom is under attack. In this fully authorized edition, the artist Odyr translates the world and message of Animal Farm into a gorgeously imagined graphic novel.”
Online Graphic Novel Book Clubs for Kids
I’d love to have your child join me for weekly discussions in my graphic novel book clubs. You’ll find options for 8-10 year old and 11-13-year-olds.
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