Wondering if graphic novels for kids are the best route for your children? Graphic novels and comic books have a bad reputation among some parents, teachers, and librarians. But the research shows that graphic novels are beneficial for kids. They work just as well (and sometimes even better than prose) to teach storytelling, harness creativity, and make reading enjoyable. And kids are more likely to keep reading when they enjoy it.
FAQs: Understanding what graphic novels are
Table of Contents
We’ll get into our favorites soon, but first, let’s tackle some commonly asked questions about graphic novels.
What is a graphic novel?
Graphic novels are novel-length stories prepared in a comic style, with panels, illustrations, and speech bubbles. They look like this:
In a graphic novel, there’s very little prose and more focus on the dialogue or, sometimes, the thoughts of the characters.
What is the difference between a comic and graphic novel?
Comic books are often shorter than graphic novels; they’re typically not novel length. Also, they tend to be produced in volumes, whereas graphic novels can exist as standalone stories, although graphic novel series are also common.
Do graphic novels help kids read?
They do! Graphic novels make an excellent bridge between picture books and longer chapter books. The pictures encourage curiosity and provide useful context that can encourage kids to read.
What age group is graphic novel appropriate for?
Graphic novels exist for kids of all ages — from elementary to the teenage years. We have recommendations for all age groups in this post!
Is Diary of a Wimpy Kid a graphic novel?
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (and books like it) are heavily illustrated middle grade books — technically not graphic novels. Books like these feature substantial portions of prose like novels, but also include illustrations and some speech bubbles. If anything, they’re more of a hybrid. However, they’re often grouped with graphic novels because a large percentage of the content is graphics.
Why graphic novels are great for kids
Three important research-backed benefits of graphic novels for growing children are:
1. They’re visually engaging
When children first start learning to read, they’re drawn to the colorful pictures in picture books and they lean into the storytelling, hanging on to every word. Graphic novels recreate this experience for young readers. It’s no wonder they can’t get enough.
2. They improve children’s vocabulary
Although graphic novels contain pictures, they’re in no way “baby books.” Research shows that graphic novels contain more rare words (higher level vocab) than other children’s books (and many adult books). While enjoying their stories, rest assured that your kids will be learning new words with graphic novels.
3. They’re easier to understand and follow
Finally, kids gravitate towards enjoyment (more than adults who are often searching for “deeper meaning). That alone shows that graphic novels are much easier to understand and follow. The illustrations provide context and the relatively minimal text in bubbles keeps readers following the story — and keeps them reading!
100+ Best Graphic Novels for Kids
Now that we know the value of graphic novels, here are 100+ of the best graphic novels for kids for a variety of ages, including pre-schoolers, tweens, and teens alike. Click on the images to be redirected to the post page. Happy reading!
The Best Graphic Novels for Elementary School Kids (Ages 6-9)
Click the box below to see our list.
These picks have short text and fewer pages, but wonderfully illustrated stories for kids ages 6-9. My favorite is Weenie featuring Frank & Beans: Mad About Meatloaf — absolutely delightful!
Graphic Novel Series for Middle Schoolers (Ages 8-12)
Click the box below to see our list of 20 middle grade graphic novel series.
If your kids ask for more after reading graphic novels, you might want to look into these graphic novel series for tweens. I have so many favorites on this list, but I’ll share three:
- The Click series by Kayla Miller
- Sunny series by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
- Best Friends series by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pharm
The Best Middle Grade Graphic Novels
Click the box below to see our list.
Whether your kids love sports, food, animals, or other interests, you’ll find something for them on this list of middle grade graphic novels. A few of my favorites:
- Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter
- Big Apple Diaries by Alyssa Bermudez
- Sunny Makes a Splash by Jennifer and Matthew Holm
- Guts by Raina Telgemeier
- Measuring Up by Lily Lamotte and Anne Xu
- Twins by Varian Johnson and Shannon Wright
- Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
If your kids are in upper elementary or just entering middle school, you’ll enjoy our graphic novel recommendations by age:
- Graphic novels for 8 year olds
- The best graphic novels for 9 year olds
- Top graphic novels for 10 year olds
- Great graphic novels for 11 year olds
- Our recommended graphic novels for 12 year olds
The Best Graphic Novels for Teens
Graphic Novels for Kids (By Interests)
Some kids won’t touch a book with a 6 foot tall pole unless its theme aligns with their interests. Thankfully, graphic novels cover a variety of themes, from sports to family to mental health. We’ve been working on multiple lists highlighting graphic novels featuring characters facing different circumstances.
Want Even More Kids Graphic Novels?
We’ve reviewed dozens of kids’ graphic novels. Find the best one for your child.