Graphic novels continue to grow in popularity with kids, with a fantastic number of offerings for readers in all grade levels. With dynamic art paired with topics ranging from superpowered friends, saving the world, or just surviving school, graphic novels have something to offer everyone.
From pre-readers to pre-teens, these eight graphic novels can help encourage a love of reading in kids of all ages.
Even if your kids can’t read many words yet, they can still “read” a graphic novel on their own. The Hello Kitty graphic novel series from Viz Media are almost completely free of text, so preschoolers and pre-readers can glean the stories from the art alone. These graphic novels are an ideal introduction to teaching young kids (boys and girls alike) how to read panels from left to right and top to down. Hello Kitty and her friends are surprisingly expressive, with straightforward stories told through adorable illustrations. (Ages 3-6)
Kids who have learned how to read but aren’t quite at chapter book level can find a lot to love in Babymouse. The series of over 15 graphic novels introduce kids to the sassy Babymouse, whose misadventures in school and life might feel familiar to many readers. Sure, there’s a lot of pink in these otherwise black and white graphic novels, but the books aren’t all princesses and cupcakes—boys can find the stories funny and familiar as well. Babymouse is a spunky character with a vivid imagination who stands up for herself in the face of bullies and the mishaps of everyday life as a middle-schooler. (Ages 7-10)
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg SubstituteImage Source: Knopf
Heroes don’t get more unlikely than the Lunch Lady. This crime fighter and her genius partner answer the question, “What do the lunch ladies do when they’re not in the cafeteria?” Fight evil cyborg substitute teachers, of course! This inventive and hilarious graphic novel series is a fun read for boys and girls. Where else can you see Fish Stick Nunchucks? (Ages 8-12)
Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to EarthImage Source: Random House
A fast-paced, funny read, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth follows the adventures of friends D.J., Gina, and Hilo. D.J. sees Hilo fall from the sky, but the strange boy has no memory of who he is or where he was before he crashed to Earth. Together, the friends have to unravel the mystery of Hilo, save the Earth from evil robots, and still go to school. Not only is there a lot of action-packed robot fighting, the story also packs an emotional punch as the kids deal with family life, friendship, and self-confidence. (Ages 8-12)
Zita the SpacegirlImage Source: Macmillan
Bravery, friendship, and adventure are at the forefront of the Zita the Spacegirl graphic novels by Ben Hatke. When a meteor falls to Earth and Zita and her friend Joseph discover a red button in the crater, the fearless Zita can’t resist pushing it. When a portal appears and sucks up Joseph, Zita realizes that she must follow in order to save him. Sci-fi fans will love the world building and action in the strange new worlds Zita finds herself in. (Ages 8-12)
A comic series from Image Comics, the Oddly Normal graphic novels introduce readers to a unique, intriguing world known as Fignation. Our heroine is named Oddly Normal, and she doesn’t find herself fitting in anywhere in the normal world. The half-witch, half-human makes a wish on her birthday that has devastating consequences. She finds herself in the bizarre world of Fignation, where she doesn’t quite fit in either, but she makes new friends who help her navigate life in her new home. (Ages 8-12+)
AmuletImage Source: Scholastic
Have a Hayao Miyazaki fan in the house? Then be sure to pick up the amazing Amulet graphic novel series by Kazu Kibuishi. The influence of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is clear to see in the gorgeous, dark, detailed world of Amulet. The story tells of kids Emily and Navin, who move to a mysterious new house after the death of their father. There Emily discovers a mystical amulet, which opens the door to an adventure filled with sinister monsters, new friends, danger, and more. (Ages 8-12+)
SmileImage Source: Scholastic
There are no superpowers or amazing heroics in this graphic novel, but Smile has storytelling that’s just as powerful. The illustrated memoir gives the reader a glimpse into author Raina Telgemeier’s childhood and trials of junior high, friendship, and seemingly unending dental work. Throw in an unrequited crush and an earthquake, and you’ve got a fascinating story for older kids who are making their own ways through middle school. Read it yourself and you’ll rekindle memories of middle school you didn’t know you had. (Ages 10+)
Feature Image Source: Amulet: The Cloud Searchers (Scholastic), Art by Kazu Kibuishi