Young readers love graphic novels and these excellent, diverse graphic novels featuring characters from all walks of life are just the thing to keep them turning the pages even after you tell them, "Lights out!"
If your kids are super fans of graphic novels, or "reluctant readers" who prefer books not to be too text-heavy, be sure to check out all our graphic novel book lists for more reading material.
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Here at What Do We Do All Day?, our recommendation is to check out books from the library or shop at your local, independent bookstore. If you choose to purchase books online, consider Bookshop, which supports independent booksellers. You can find this graphic novel list at Bookshop here.
Stargazing by Jen Wang
This was such a lovely story. Christine's mom invites a single parent and her daughter, Moon, to live in their guest house. Christine and Moon couldn't be more opposite on the outside but learn they have more in common than they thought. Soon Moon shares a secret with Christine, a secret that turns out not to be what anyone expects. Ages 8 and up.
New Kid by Jerry Craft
After I brought this book home from the library, my son loved it and read it ten times in a row! I'm not surprised because after I read it, I realized how nuanced this story is. Art-loving Jordan navigates a new school as one of the few kids of color in his seventh grade class. Craft's story offers much to discover, even after multiple readings. There is now a sequel! Class Act. Ages 8 and up.
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O'Neill
For kids who like fantasy but without all the scary, dramatic and potentially violent action, this oversized graphic novel series is a great start. Greta, a blacksmith's apprentice, meets Hesekiel and Erik, tea shop owners who teach her about the ancient art of tea dragons. At the end of the book there is a super fun guide to all the tea dragons and their care. Ages 6 and up.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
This is a simply lovely graphic novel about a girl who seeks answers about her family. One day, Pri finds a pashmina in an old suitcase. When she puts it on, she is transported to a vibrant India where she encounters an elephant and a peacock who become her guides. Pri begins a journey to find the answers to her questions in this marvelous story filled with magical realism. Ages 8 and up.
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
What's that, you say? You are looking for a graphic novel about an orthodox Jewish girl who dreams of slaying dragons? Well, you've come to the right place. This book is pretty wonderful. 11 year old Mirka is not interested in the stereotypical "female pursuits." For example, she is a terrible knitter. The book opens with Mirka trying to convince her stepmother that God must want her to make kitting mistakes. When you see what role knitting plays in overcoming the terrible troll, you will probably agree with Mirka's assessment. One day Mirka finds herself in a kerfuffle involving wrestling a pig (although no one believes her, and what is a pig doing in an Orthodox community, anyway, they all say) but that's just the beginning. Ages 8 and up.
Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raúl the Third
You might not think that a space adventure would easily combine with Chicano car culture. Well, you'd be wrong! Lowriders is great fun and has a good message about working together and friendship. Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria are a great team when it comes to fixing cars. Together they enter a contest to turn a hunk of junk into the best car in the solar system. This was a great one for my son who is starting to learn Spanish. A glossary in the back helps kids with the Spanish words sprinkled throughout the text. Ages 7 and up.
Beetle and the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne
Beetle is a young goblin and aspiring witch who is reunited with her friend Kat Hollowbone. Their friendship has Beetle questioning her feelings about her relationship with Kat as well as with her friend Blob Ghost. But it turns out Kat's aunt is evil and has plans to destroy the mall where Blob Ghost lives. This is a unique fantastical graphic novel. Ages 10 and up.
Where's Halmoni? by Julie Kim
This is such a wonderful and unique book! Two siblings arrive at halmoni’s house (grandmother's house) but their grandmother is missing; instead, they see paw prints! They go looking for her and what follows is a splendid adventure inspired by Korean folklore. The story is separated into several sections based on their encounters with a rabbit, goblins and the tiger. Human dialogue is in English, non-human is in Korean but non-Korean speakers will have no problems following the story, and a translation is provided. Don't miss this one! Ages 7 and up.
In Paris, Prince Sebastian's parents are looking for a bride for their son; in another part of the city, aspiring designer Frances sews marvelous dresses for Lady Crystallia. These threads are connected by Prince Sebastian's secret. This is a story of secrets and identities, friendships and family, being true to yourself and being accepted by others. Ages 10 and up.
Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith
Yes, indeed, there were many Black heroes in the Wild West and they led fascinating lives, as this graphic novel will show you. Smith shares the tales of Mary Fields, aka “Stagecoach Mary,” Bass Reeves, the first black Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi, and Bob Lemmons, a talented horseman. The stories will transfix you, and Smith shares interesting historical facts and background in extensive endnotes. Ages 7 and up.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
This graphic novel memoir narrated by Cece, who loses here hearing due to spinal meningitis. A very funny and charming book about the experiences, imaginings and wishes of a Deaf girl. Although the story will help hearing kids to see challenges of the Deaf, they will also see similarities. Ages 8 and up.
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
The final book on this list of nonfiction graphic novels is another memoir I couldn't put down. Jamieson and Mohamed tell the story of Mohamed's experience as a refugee living in a camp in Kenya. Readers will learn of the difficult life in a refugee camp but relate to the hopes of Omar and Hassan. Omar faces tough choices that could affect his future as well as his family and although the experiences of Omar and Hassan are likely to never be known by most readers of this book, readers will not soon forget them. Ages 9 and up.
Trickster: Native American Tales, A Graphic Collection ed. by Matt Dembicki
My kids and I love trickster tales, which is why I checked this one out. I didn't get a chance to read all of the stories, but my 11 year old did. His verdict was that they were good. I asked if he thought they were appropriate for his age and he said, "Yes, except maybe not two of them." So I'm recommending this for ages 11 and up.
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
This is a joyous tale of neighborhood kids who transform mere cardboard into the most marvelous imaginative world. The story is collaboratively written by a number of authors. Sixteen characters transform their world and learn about their own identities, making this book a wonderful tour de force! Ages 8 and up.
Sea Sirens : A Trot & Cap'n Bill Adventure by Amy Chu, illustrated by Janet K. Lee
This graphic novel is more than just an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's classic novel, Sea Faries, into comic book form. Trot, a Vietnamese surfer girl who hates school, brings her grandfather, who has dementia, to the beach with her. That day she is pulled beneath the waves with Cap'n Bill and her feline surfing companion, where they find themselves in the middle of a battle between feuding sea creatures. Ages 7 and up.
Go with the Flow by Karen Schneemann, illustrated by Lily Williams
In this graphic novel, a group of diverse girls are fed up with their school's emphasis on boys' sports, not to mention that the feminine hygiene dispenser in the bathroom is always empty. The girls work together amidst the ups and downs of every aspect of high school life: crushes, dances, sports, friendships, etc. in order to create a period-positive environment for everyone. An extra fun touch is the red tone of the illustrations! Ages 9 and up.