A Super Selection of Graphic Novels for Kids

Reading recommendations from our own Dr. Alice Mar

I have a confession, I used to be a snob about graphic novels. I thought of them as not really reading or as just glorified comic books. But I’ve completely changed my mind. Many graphic novels are some of the most exciting books out there for kids. And the format is one that even reluctant readers often enjoy. (I’ve also changed my tune on comic books…I firmly believe that anything that gets kids to read is great and comic books are often a great way to get kids interested in reading.) Here are just a few of the graphic novels my kids have enjoyed. 

Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm is the first in a series about an irrepressible heroine. In this first installment, Babymouse wants to be invited to the slumber party of one of the cool kids but it might mean she has to cancel plans with her best friend. These funny and relatable books are written for 3-5th graders. Younger kids who are good readers will enjoy them also. 

Bug Boys by Laura Knetzger is the first in a series about two bug friends who have adventures together.  The format is multiple short stories so these are good for earlier readers. 

The Babysitters’s Club by Raina Telgemeir, the first in a series of graphic novels based on the bestselling series by Ann M. Martin, tells the story of four best friends in 7th grade who found a club for baby-sitting. They go on in later editions (with different illustrators) to have all sorts of adventures. The reading level is around ages 8-10 but some of the subject matter is better for older elementary schoolers. There is a series that centers around the younger sisters of the original BSC (Babysitter’s Club: Little Sisters) that might be more appropriate for younger kids. 

Spy School: The Graphic Novel by Stuart Gibbs is another adaptation of a popular series. A middle schooler who is kind of a nerd dreams of being a super-spy. He is surprised and excited when he is recruited for a special school that he discovers is a front for a junior CIA academy. Written for kids in grades 4-7. 

Both of my boys went through a phase where they LOVED the Hazardous Tales series of graphic novels by Nathan Hale. Written for kids in grades 4-7, they are hilarious and accurate tales from history (the first starts with the story of Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War spy). A warning: they can be a little graphic (pun intended) so if you have a sensitive kid, make sure you screen them. However, they are also incredible ways to get kids interested in history. 

Secret Coders by Gene Yang is a series that combines a mystery along with logic puzzles and lessons on basic programming/coding. All in a fun graphic novel format. 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is the story of 12 year old Astrid who is trying to adjust to middle school and growing apart from her best friend. She attends roller derby camp and finds a new love and new friends. Great for grades 4-7. 

I think my daughter has read everything written by Raina Telgemeier: Smile, Sisters, Drama, Ghosts, and Guts and loved them all. Telgemeier is a genius at telling stories that are hilarious and relatable. The reading level is probably fine for elementary schoolers but some of the topics might be best for middle schoolers so families should preview.