Graphic novels exist in the same sphere as picture books: they both incorporate varying levels of text mixed with illustration to convey a story, and they both require a certain understanding of how visual narratives flow across the page. Graphic novels are an inherently unique way to show and tell longer, more complex stories to an audience that appreciates visual storytelling as much as textual. The books on this list stand out as my favorites because they contain thoughtfully-crafted worlds in which the text and illustrations provide balanced parts of the story.

Early Reader:
Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton

Join Narwhal, a happy-go-lucky narwhal, and Jelly, no-nonsense jellyfish, as they discover the ocean together. So far there are two in the series and the third is due out April 2018.
Written by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, inked by Greg Salsedo, translated by Alexis Siegel

A grandmother tells her granddaughter the story of how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was hidden away from the Nazis by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep her alive when her parents had been taken to concentration camps.
Written and illustrated by Ivan Brunetti

This early reader is a wonderfully hilarious introduction to compound words and proves how much there is to love about the English language.

Middle Grade:
Written by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun

The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction, and when war erupts Oona Lee discovers that her destiny is much bigger than she ever could have imagined. The Sand Warrior is the first in the series.
Written and illustrated Gene Luen Yang

Gene Yang tells the story of three seemingly unrelated characters whose lives and stories come together in an unexpected way.
Written and illustrated by Kazu Kibuishi

When their mother is kidnapped, Emily and Navin set out into a world of robots, talking animals, and flying ships. But what Emily has yet to learn is that she's a Stonekeeper and essential to the survival of this world. Seven out of nine books are published.
Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel (publishes October 24, 2017)
Written by, adapted by, illustrated by

In this graphic novel adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley moves to Green Gables, forever changing the lives of those around her.
Written and illustrated Joe Todd-Stanton

A young boy must save his hometown by completing a series of dangerous and mythical tasks. rthur and the Golden Rope is the first in the Brownstone's Mythical Collection series
Written by Benjamin Renner

This beautiful watercolored graphic novel tells the humorous tale of a fox who dreams of being the terror of the barnyard, but ends up being Mommy to three stolen baby chicks instead.  
Written by Zack Giallongo

As the sole survivor of his tribe, Broxo spends his days hunting and hiding from the walking dead that occasionally wander by. When a princess named Zora arrives looking for Broxo's tribe, the two must come together to battle the living dead. 
Written and illustrated by Drew Weing

When Charles moves to Echo City he joins forces with Margo Maloo, a monster mediator. Which turns out to be helpful since it seems that many of the monsters don't like Charles.
Written by Raina Telgemeier 

Callie is a set designer for her drama department's stage crew, and this year she's determined to spend her middle-school-sized theater budget on a set worthy of a Broadway play.
Written and illustrated by Luke Pearson

Hilda is an adventurous girl who lives with her mother and a deerfox named Twig. The trio encounters everything magical, from trolls to giants to invisible people. Five books in the series have been published so far.
Written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks, colored by Jordie Bellaire

Kaidu and Rat find themselves in the middle of a burgeoning war, with the fate of the Nameless City in their hands. Two books in the series have been published so far.
Written and illustrated by Lorena Alvarez

Every night, tiny stars appear in Sandy's bedroom, and in the morning she brings them back to life with her drawings. But one day, a mysterious girl named Morpie appears at school and seems to know all about Sandy's drawings, taking Sandy on a haunting journey.
Written by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls even result to bullying to stay on top. Every day is a roller coaster for Shannon as she learns how hard it is to find her real friends and why it's worth the journey. 
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Two books in Raina Telgemeier's graphic memoir series, these stories follow Raina's middle school years as she deals with braces, boys, and her sister.