25+ Graphic Novel Recommendations for Young Readers of All Ages
“Graphic novels aren’t real books.” “Graphic novels are too easy.” “Graphic novels don’t depict more serious themes or issues.” “Graphic novels are just for boys.” These are some of the common misconceptions you hear when people talk about graphic novels. In reality, they can be a wonderful and well loved method of reading for many kids.
Graphic novels develop reading skills, introduce readers to longer texts, are highly engaging, and provide accessible entry points for all types of readers. Through the inclusion of text and illustrations, they are great for struggling readers, emergent bilinguals, and other students who may need more visual support when reading. There is truly a graphic novel for any type of reader!
The recommendations below are some of our favorite graphic novels that showcase a wide variety of topics and genres, and are great for all kids, from your most reluctant readers to your most eager book lovers!
Shop for all of these recommended books on our Bookshop page.
Little Robot | Author/Illustrator: Ben Hatke | Publisher: First Second
One day, a little girl accidentally activates a robot that she finds in the woods. She can’t wait to have a new best friend. Unfortunately, big, bad robots are coming to take the little robot! It is up to her to save her friend and save the day.
Akissi: Tales of Mischief | Author: Marguerite Abouet | Illustrator: Mathieu Sapin | Publisher: Flying Eye Books
Join Akissi in her day full of mischief in this funny, adventure filled graphic novel. Kids will laugh out loud as cats try to steal Akissi’s fish, she bugs her older brother, and gets into trouble with her money, Boubou.
Where’s Halmoni? | Author/Illustrator: Julie Kim | Publisher: Little Bigfoot
Where’s Halmoni? is a beautiful ode to the Korean language and culture as two children search for their Halmoni, or grandmother, when they discover she is not at her home. While looking, they discover a new window with animal tracks covering the floor nearby. Sparked by their curiosity, they adventure into the window and discover a fantasy world of Korean Folklore, where they learn about their cultural heritage. This beautiful book is also sprinkled with Korean language.
The Tea Dragon Society | Author: K. O’Neill | Publisher: Oni Press
In The Tea Dragon Society, Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, discovers a lost tea dragon. Soon she starts learning about tea dragon care from Hesekiel and Erik, the tea shop owners. The more she learns about the art form, the more she learns about herself and others.
CatStronauts: Mission Moon | Author/Illustrator: Drew Brockington | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Oh no! There is a global energy shortage and the whole world is dark. Scientists need someone to go up to the moon to set up a solar power plant. CatStronauts to the rescue! Major Meowster, Waffles, Blanket, and Pom Pom set out on their most important mission yet.
Allergic | Author/Illustrator: Megan Wagner Lloyd | Illustrator: Michelle Mee Nutter | Publisher: Graphix
A heartwarming coming of age story about a young girl trying to find the perfect pet! The only problem is that Maggie has severe allergies, which makes it difficult to be around most dogs. But Maggie is determined to work past her allergies and find a new puppy to call her own. Any child who has allergies will deeply relate to this book.
When Stars are Scattered | Authors: Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed | Illustrator: Iman Geddy | Publisher: Dial Books
This is the story of Omar and Hassan, two brothers, growing up alone in a refugee camp in Kenya. They spend most of their days waiting for water and hoping for food. Omar usually takes care of Hassan, who is nonverbal, until he is presented with the opportunity to attend school. School is frequently the only way out of the refugee camp and a chance for a better life. But is it worth leaving Hassan, his only family member left, every day? A true story full of struggle, hope, and love.
Witches of Brooklyn: What The Hex?! | Author/Illustrator: Sophie Escabasse | Publisher: Random House Graphic
The sequel to Witches of Brooklyn, What the Hex?! returns to Effie, a witch learning magic, in a new school with new friends. This heartwarming story explores growing up, including friendships, family, and becoming your most authentic self - all with the backdrop of magic.
The Cardboard Kingdom | Author/Illustrator: Chad Sell | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
An adventure filled story of a neighborhood full of kids who come together to transform boring old cardboard boxes into fun costumes and a larger than life kingdom. With each chapter profiling a different kid, The Cardboard Kingdom shows the importance of community, imagination, and fun!
Just Pretend | Author/Illustrator: Tori Sharp | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
In Just Pretend, Tori’s life is full of changes. As she struggles through the ups and downs of middle school as well as switching back and forth between her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment, she isn’t sure where to turn. Then Tori discovers the power of storytelling, and the ones she can make up might just be what keeps everything from falling apart.
Chunky | Author/Illustrator: Yehudi Mercado | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Hudi has spent his childhood being told he needs to lose weight. His concerned parents push him to try sports when they would prefer anything else. When Hudi meets Chunky, his imaginary friend, they decide to try baseball. Even though baseball doesn’t go well for Hudi, his friendship with Chunky does. With the support and encouragement of Chunky, he decides to pursue his actual interest - comedy. Will he be able to stay true to himself or will it be easier to leave Chunky behind and take the path that was charted for him?
Other middle grade graphic novels that we love are New Kid and Class Act by Jerry Craft, Real Friends by Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham, Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz, Sanity and Tallulah by Molly Brooks, Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte, Twins by Varian Johnson, Piece by Piece: The Story of Nisrin’s Hijab by Prija Huq and All Together Now by Hope Larson.
Go With the Flow | Author: Karen Schneemann | Illustrator: Lily Williams | Publisher: First Second
In this coming of age story, Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are four friends learning how to advocate for themselves and others all while navigating high school relationships. Frustrated that their school invests in the football program instead of providing feminine hygiene products, they decide to force a change. Hopefully the rest of the high school drama doesn’t get in the way…
Nubia: Real One | Author: L.L. McKinney | Illustrator: Robyn Smith | Publisher: DC Comics
The story of a hero who is too often treated as the opposite. Nubia has always had incredible strength and superhero-like abilities. So how come every time she comes to the rescue, she is reminded that society sees her as the threat? Nubia’s moms do their best to protect her, but when her best friend Quisha is in trouble, Nubia will risk everything to show that she is a hero. A powerful story about race, equity, and identity.
A Map to the Sun | Author/Illustrator: Sloane Leong | Publisher: First Second
A Map to the Sun is a Young Adult graphic novel about friendship, basketball, and trust. Ren and Luna are two people who became friends after discovering a shared love of basketball. But after Luna’s move and years of ignored texts from Ren, Luna returns hoping their friendship can pick up where they left off. In this basketball story, we witness a group of teenagers grappling with how to be a good friend and how friendships change over time.
The Witch Boy | Author/Illustrator: Molly Knox Ostertag | Publisher: Graphix
Aster lives in a magical world. One in which all boys are raised to be shapeshifters and all girls are raised to be witches — anyone in defiance of these norms is exiled. However, thirteen-year-old Aster still hasn’t shifted and is far more intrigued by becoming a witch. When danger comes, Aster knows he can help… as a witch, not a shapeshifter. With the help of others, Aster needs to learn to be brave enough to be himself.
Hey Kiddo | Author/Illustrator: Jarrett J. Krosoczka | Publisher: Graphix
A gripping YA graphic memoir, Hey Kiddo tells the story of Jarrett, a boy growing up with his grandparents due to a drug addicted mother and an absent father. When things seem their worst, Jarrett finds an outlet in art. He uses drawing as a form of expression and an escape. An honest and important story of life, growth, and survival.
Other Young Adult graphic novels we love are The Girl From The Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag, Almost American Girl by Robin Ha, The Avant-Guards Series by Carly Usdin, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel by Jason Reynolds, and Monster: A Graphic Novel by Walter Dean Myers