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.
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.caPhoto: HarperCollins Canada
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.caPhoto: Penguin Random House
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.caPhoto: Groundwood Books
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.caPhoto: Scholastic Inc.
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.caPhoto: Tundra Books
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.caPhoto: Penguin Random House
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.caPhoto: Workman Publishing
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.caPhoto: Andrews McMeel Publishing
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.caPhoto: Groundwood Books
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.caPhoto: Scholastic Inc.
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.caPhoto: Groundwood Books
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.caPhoto: Groundwood Books
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.caPhoto: Scholastic Inc.
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.caPhoto: Groundwood Books
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.caPhoto: Little Brown Books
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.caPhoto: Penguin Random House
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.caPhoto: Scholastic Inc.
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.caPhoto: Penguin Young Readers Group
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.caPhoto: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
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.caPhoto: Graphix
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