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.

Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol

When Anya falls down a well, the last thing she expects to find is a century-old ghost. And the very last thing she expects is for that ghost to become her only friend.
Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith

When cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of their hometown, they find themselves in a mysterious new land filled with wonderful and terrifying creatures. Together with Thorn, Gran'ma Ben, and the Great Red Dragon, the three cousins set out on an epic journey.
Written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. Readers follow the lives of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant whose village is slowly destroyed by Christian missionaries, and Vibiana, a lost girl who finds herself at home with Christianity.
Written by Hope Larson and illustrated by Rebecca Mock

It's 1860 in New York City when 12-year-old twins Alexander and Cleopatra's father disappears. But that doesn't even compare to the danger they find themselves in, followed by pirates who think they hold the key to treasure. Two books in the series have been published so far.
Written and illustrated by Stephen Collins

Everything on the island of Here is orderly and neat until one man's unstoppable beard gives him and the citizens of Here a new perspective.
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

This three-book series is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights.
Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is a young shapeshifter with a streak of villainy and a mindset to show everyone that not all heroes are what they appear to be.
Written and illustrated Marjane Satrapi

This autobiography tells the story of growing up in a large family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution.
Written and illustrated by

The epic tale of one guy's quest to win the heart of the girl of his dreams by defeating her seven evil ex-boyfriends. All six books in the series have published.
Written by Gene Luen Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew

In the 1940s the Green Turtle, the first Asian American super hero was born. The comic had a short run before lapsing into obscurity, but Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew revive the character and create an origin story for the Green Turtle full of action and heart.
Written by Sharon Shinn and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag

Eight years after Colleen's home is invaded by aliens and her entire family is slaughtered, Colleen receives news that her niece Lucy is still alive and decides to join a revolution. Shattered Warrior is the first book in the series.
Written and illustrated by Matt Phelan

Phelan reimagines the infamous tale of a young maid escaping her evil step mother in graphic novel form, pulling from the noir genre to place Samantha White in the Roaring Twenties.
Written by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Addison provides for her sister by selling her illegal photographs of the mysterious and deadly Spill Zone, but when she gets an offer that's too good to refuse, Addison takes a risk that might be one step too far. The Spill Zone is the first book in the series.