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20 awesome graphic novels for kids

More than just long picture books, graphic novels are a great way to encourage reluctant readers to get lost in a fictional world.

By Kevin John Siazon and Yasmeen Aslam
20 awesome graphic novels for kids

Even some of the most reluctant readers fall hard for graphic novels, where they're given a play by play of the story's twists and turns thanks to colourful illustrations and expressive fonts. Not only do kids love them, but they're also teacher approved! A graphic novel can help train children to pick up on a book's tone and also nurture empathy when introducing kids to new or challenging topics (like racism or poverty) since they can see the characters' struggles. And just because they're illustrated, it doesn't mean the vocabulary is simplistic—though the graphics help early readers along when faced with challenging words. Most of all, they can help build confidence in readers at all skill levels.  Here are some of the best graphic novels for kids.

Olga: We’re Out of Here!

Written and illustrated by Elise Gravel, Harper Collins (ages 8 to 12) Follow the adventures of Olga as she leaves the earth in search of Meh’s home planet, but first she’ll have to discover why Meh is acting so strange. $16, indigo.ca

Cover art for Olga We're out of here showing a illstration of a girl with long black hairPhoto: HarperCollins Canada

02Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior

Written by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller and Boya Sun, Penguin Random House (ages 8 to 12) Follow the adventures of Oona Lee, An Tzu and Jax Amboy as they attempt to discover their destinies and stop the war that’s bringing the 5 Worlds to the brink of extinction. $17, indigo.ca

Cover art for 5 worlds The Sand Warrior, showing 3 kids with super powers and a dreamy alien landscapePhoto: Penguin Random House

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The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

Based on the original book by Deborah Ellis and adapted from the feature film directed by Nora Twomey, Groundwood Books (ages 10 to 14) Adapted from the Oscar-nominated animated feature, this beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells the powerful story of a girl in Afghanistan who must disguise herself as a boy to support her family after her father is unjustly taken to prison. $15, indigo.ca

Cover art for The Breadwinner Graphic Novel showing the main character holding a tray with a teapot and two cupsPhoto: Groundwood Books

Dog Man #4: Dog Man and Cat Kid

Written and illustrated by Dav Pilkey, Scholastic Inc. (ages 7+) Dog Man is back with a furry new sidekick, Cat Kid. When a glamorous movie star goes missing, the duo must rush to save the day. Kids will love this popular graphic novel series from the creator of Captain Underpants. $8, amazon.ca

cover art for Dog Man and Cat Kid showing a dog and a cat dressed as super heroesPhoto: Scholastic Inc.

A Narwhal and Jelly Book #3: Peanut Butter and Jelly

Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton, Tundra Books (ages 6 to 9) Your kids will love the third installment in the Narwhal and Jelly series, where Narwhal falls deep into his obsession with his new favourite food: peanut butter! This series is a great way to transition early readers out of picture books. $14, amazon.ca

Cover of Peanut Butter and Jelly, the third Narwhal and Jelly book. Shows a Narwhal eating a cookie with a jellyfish next to himPhoto: Tundra Books

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The Cardboard Kingdom

Created and illustrated by Chad Sell, Penguin Random House (ages 8 to 12) It’s summer and the kids are turning their neighbourhood into a cardboard kingdom. Follow along as they encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters—and their own inner demons—on one last quest before school starts again. $18, indigo.ca

Cover art for The Cardboard Kingdom. Shows 7 kids wearing cardboard costumes in a cardboard castle.Photo: Penguin Random House

Doodle Adventures #1: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs

Written and illustrated by Mike Lowery, Workman Publishing (ages 8+) The first book in the Doodle Adventures series takes kids on a wild journey to find the elusive slimy space slugs responsible for stealing a jar that contains a top secret substance. To save the day, kids will have to do something that they’re usually not allowed to do with books: draw and doodle all over them. $19, amazon.ca

Cover art for Doodle Adventures #1 The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs showing a kid wearing a space suitPhoto: Workman Publishing

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel

Based on the original book by L.M. Montgomery, adapted by Mariah Marsden and illustrated by Brenna Thummler, Andrews McMeel Publishing (ages 7 to 12) The classic story comes to life in full colour in this beautifully illustrated graphic novel that we think is awesome. This is the perfect way to share Anne’s story with your kids and make kindred spirits out of a whole new generation of readers. $13, amazon.ca

Cover art for the Anne of Green Gables graphic novel showing anne standing in a field of tall green grassPhoto: Andrews McMeel Publishing

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Louis Undercover

Written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, Groundwood Books (ages 9 to 13) This powerful graphic novel touches on the feelings that kids experience while dealing with their parents’ divorce. This story is perfect for exploring emotions and having that tough conversation about divorce with older kids. $20, amazon.ca

Cover of Louis Undercover. Shows an illustration of two kids and a raccoon surrounded by blue swirly shapesPhoto: Groundwood Books

Dream Jumper #1: Nightmare Escape

Written by Greg Grunberg and illustrated by Lucas Turnbloom, Scholastic Inc. (ages 8 to 12) Ben can jump into other people’s dreams, which will definitely come in handy now that his friends have fallen prey to an evil dream monster that won’t let them wake up. Can he navigate the ever-changing dream landscape and save his friends from eternal slumber? $17, indigo.ca

Cover art for Dream Jumper showing a boy riding on the back of giant angry crowPhoto: Scholastic Inc.

Short Stories for Little Monsters

Written and illustrated by Marie-Lousie Gay, Groundwood Books (ages 5 to 8) This picture book of short stories is the perfect way to introduce little ones to the panel-style layout of graphic novels. Each page has a different story illustrated to depict the things that children often wonder about. What do cats see? What do trees talk about? $20, indigo.ca

Cover art for Short Stories for Little Monsters showing kid monsters playing on an orange backgroundPhoto: Groundwood Books

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Sita’s Ramayana

Written by Samhita Arni and illustrated by Moyna Chitrakar, Groundwood Books (ages 9 to 12) Let your kids explore one of ancient India’s great legends with this stunning graphic novel told from the perspective of the beautiful and fierce queen Sita. $25, indigo.ca

Cover art for Sita's Ramayana. Shows illustration of a woman with a bindhi and big jewelry.Photo: Groundwood Books

Sparks!

Written by Ian Boothby and illustrated by Nina Matsumoto, Scholastic Inc. (ages 6 to 10) The evil Princess may look like a cute human baby, but she is really an alien who wants to conquer planet Earth. Now it’s up to August and Charlie to save the day. But will two cats operating a powerful mechanical dog be enough to stop her? $17, amazon.ca

Cover art for Sparks! showing two cats in a big robot dog suitPhoto: Scholastic Inc.

A Year Without Mom

Written and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, Groundwood Books (ages 9 to 13) This emotionally rich graphic novel tells the story of 12-year-old Dasha during the difficult year after her mother left her in Moscow to go to America. This story of growth and resilience will encourage kids to face their own challenges, even when things seem quite hopeless. $14, amazon.ca

cover art for A Year without Mom. Shows an illustration of a kid in a red toque standing at a bus stopPhoto: Groundwood Books

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CatStronauts #3: Space Station Situation

Written and illustrated by Drew Brockington, Little Brown Books (ages 6 to 10) Your kids will love following the adventures of the CatStronauts—Major Meowser, Pom Pom, Blanket, Waffle and Cat-Stro-Bot—as they travel around the depths of space. $11, amazon.ca

Cover art for Catsronauts Space Station Situation showing four cats in space near a space stationPhoto: Little Brown Books

All’s Faire in Middle School

Written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, Penguin Random House (ages 8 to 12) Impy has always grown up around the Renaissance Faire, where her parents work. To prove to them that she is brave enough to begin her squire training, she decides to take on the ultimate quest: She is going to public school after a life of being homeschooled. $18, indigo.ca

cover art for All's Faire in Middle School. Shows a girl dressed in medieval clothing holding a sword and shield but also wearing a modern school backpackPhoto: Penguin Random House

Bunny Vs Monkey Book Three

Written and illustrated by Jamie Smart, Scholastic Inc. (ages 7 to 10) Bunny and Monkey are at it again in the third installment of this wacky graphic novel series. Your kids will love seeing all the silly inventions that the pair come up with to one up the other. $10, indigo.ca

Cover art for Bunny vs Monkey Book three showing bunny in an inner tube and monkey in a mechanical octopusPhoto: Scholastic Inc.

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The Mystery of the Moon Tower

Written by Francesco Sedita and Prescott Seraydarian, and illustrated by Steve Hamaker, Penguin Young Readers Group (ages 8 to 12) At a summer camp, five kids work together to solve a mysterious project. They uncover a series of strange clues that unveils the path to a legendary treasure. $18, indigo.ca 

20 awesome graphic novels for kidsPhoto: Penguin Young Readers Group

Spy School

Written by Stuart Gibbs and illustrated by Anjan Sarkar, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers (ages 8 to 12) He's awkward and nerdy, but Ben Ripley has always had one dream: to be in the CIA. Then one day, it happens—while he's still in middle school! Join this unlikely undercover agent on his adventures as he works to solve cases and overcome his insecurities. $15, amazon.ca 

20 awesome graphic novels for kidsPhoto: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Twins

Written by Varian Johnson and illustrated by Shannon Wright, Graphix (ages 8 to 12) Sisters Maureen and Francine are inseparable—they're in the same clubs, partners on all school projects and enjoy the same foods. However, right before they start sixth grade Francine seems content doing her own thing... without Maureen. The sisters are growing apart and Maureen doesn't know if things will be the same again. Will middle school change everything? $17, amazon.ca 

20 awesome graphic novels for kidsPhoto: Graphix
This article was originally published on Mar 23, 2021

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