Favorite Graphic Novels


When you think about it, graphic novels (or “comics”—we use these terms interchangeably on this site!) are basically just long-form picture books for older audiences: there is a heavy emphasis on the visual narrative, and readers must make connections between text and images to understand a larger story. Since we’re all about book design and illustration here at Let’s Talk Picture Books, it only seems fair that graphic novels have some representation, too! Here are my favorite graphic novels, broken down by grade level (which can be kind of subjective, so make sure to scroll through the full list!).

Grade School      •      Middle School      •      Young Adult
click on a grade level to see more

...and don't forget to check out my other favorites lists:


Grade School

The Big Bad Fox
Written and illustrated by Benjamin Renner

Through watercolored, comic-style illustrations, this book tells the tale of a fox who dreams of being the terror of the barnyard, but ends up being Mommy to three baby chicks instead. And of course, there's Wolf, who won't stop hounding Fox about wanting to eat the baby chicks, and the local farm that's been on high-alert ever since Fox stole the chicks. So in the midst of all these hard decisions, what's Fox supposed to do when he finds himself actually caring for the baby chicks?
City Under the City
Written and illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

Beautifully told in mostly yellows and purples, this is the story of a little girl named Bix who lives in a dystopian world where an Eye rules her days. But when Bix discovers a world underneath her own—a world that used to be full of autonomy, freedom, and choice—she will stop at nothing until her community knows about their past and can break free of their oppressor.
The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo series
Written and illustrated by Drew Weing

Charles moves to Echo City to discover it's chock-full of monsters. He manages to track down Margo Maloo, monster investigator, who agrees to help him. Which is lucky because the trolls, ogres, and other monsters they encounter don't really seem to like Charles much.
The Dam Keeper series
Created by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Lurking outside the walls of Sunrise Valley is a deathly fog, and Pig is the only one who can keep the city safe. But when the fog comes with an unexpected vengeance one day, Pig and two unlikely friends set out to save their home.
Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust
Written by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, inked by Greg Salsedo, translated by Alexis Siegel

A grandmother tells the story of how, as a young Jewish girl in Paris, she was protected and kept hidden from the Nazis—who took her parents to concentrations camps—by a series of neighbors and friends who risked their lives to keep a stranger safe.
The Hilda series
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. Hands-down one of the best series out there right now.
Written and illustrated by John Patrick Green

Hippo and his friend Red Panda decide to head out into the human world and learn that in order to survive—and more importantly, blend in—they have to become quite different than they are. They have to wear human clothes, learn human jobs, and act as human as possible. But is it worth all the disguises if they never gets to be themselves?
The Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy series
Written and illustrated by Doug Savage

Meet Laser Moose, defender of the forest, and his sidekick Rabbit Boy! This hilarious, upbeat duo battles everything from aliens to a cyborg porcupine to a mechanical squirrel to even a chickadee in order to keep the forest safe from evil.
The Narwhal and Jelly series
Written and illustrated by Ben Clanton

Join Narwhal, a happy-go-lucky narwhal, and Jelly, no-nonsense jellyfish, as they discover the ocean together! These multiple-award-winning early "chapter" books are divided into three stories for three times the waffle fun.
One Day a Dot
Written by Ian Lendler and illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb

Where did we come from? Where did everything come from? This early reader starts at the very beginning of time, from a tiny dot through the Big Bang though the existence of humanity.
The Peter & Ernesto series
Written and illustrated by Graham Annable

Peter and Ernesto are two best friend sloths who live together in a tree and watch the sky together, dreaming of a larger world. But they are far from similar, and the Peter and Ernesto series follows the two sloths on an adorable series of adventures as they navigate their timeless friendship and manage their differences.
Robot Dreams
Written and illustrated by Sara Varon

After a Labor Day trip to the beach leaves Robot rusted on the sand, Dog has no choice but to leave him and come back for him next summer. But the memories of their best friendship linger with both of them throughout the year as the Robot dreams on his sandy beach and Dog begins to form new friendships. This is a wordless comic with huge heart.
Tiger vs. Nightmare
Written and illustrated by Emily Tetri

Tiger has a monster living under her bed, but not the kind you’d think. Tiger’s monster helps fight off nightmares, and the two of them are best friends. But one night a nightmare arrives that even the monster is scared of, so it’s up to Tiger and her monster to fight off the nightmare together.
The Tiny Fox and Great Boar series
Written and illustrated by Berenika Kolomycka

A sweet and gentle series about a fox and a boar who befriend each other and have lowkey adventures together that pull at the heartstrings and illicit conversations on social and emotional topics.
Where's Halmoni?
Written and illustrated by Julie Kim

Two young children set out to visit their grandmother and quickly find themselves on an unexpected journey through a fantastical world full of Korean folklore. I also recommend the stunning companion book Where’s Joon?.
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 School

American Born Chinese
Written and illustrated by Gene Luen Yang

Gene Yang tells the story of three seemingly unrelated characters whose lives and stories come together in an unexpected way. Trust me, the less you know about this book going in, the more you'll be amazed.
The Amulet series
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 to save her. But what Emily and her family has yet to learn is that Emily is a Stonekeeper, a sacred role in a much larger war. And she's essential to the survival of this world.
Be Prepared
Written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol

In this comedic graphic memoir, Vera delves into her childhood experience at a Russian summer camp. All Vera has ever wanted is to fit in, which isn't easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. So when she hears about a Russian camp, she jumps at the opportunity to go. Only, it seems that she has a tough time fitting in there, too, with all the girly drama, lack of running water, and involuntary extended stay.
Bea Wolf
Written by Zach Weinersmith and illustrated by Boulet

In this epic graphic novel retelling of the poem Beowulf, Grindle, a mean old man who hates everything fun, can turn children into adults with just the touch of his finger. After the kids of his local treehouse try to fight back and fail, they call for legendary warrior Bea Wolf to lead them in their quest to rid their neighborhood of this evil man once and for all.
Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith

When cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of their hometown, they mistakenly end up in a mysterious 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 that pushes everyone involved to their very limits.
Boxers & Saints
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. As their lives intersect, they discover who they are and what they truly believe in.
Written and illustrated 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.
Cross My Heart and Never Lie
Written and illustrated by Nora Dåsnes and translated by Matt Bagguley

Twelve year old Tuva has a checklist for seventh grade: keep a diary, get a new look, and fall in love. Unfortunately, seventh grade is proving to be much more complicated than Tuva expected and it seems her closest friends also have their own goals that might not be the same as hers.
Written and illustrated 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. But of course, this is middle school, and nothing is ever that easy! Callie knows very little about the intricacies of the drama department, and it doesn't help that two new cute brothers have suddenly joined up.
Fake Blood
Written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner

At the start of a new school year AJ is finally ready to be cool: everyone around him is changing and it’s time he caught up! And when he’s partnered with his crush––a girl named Nia who is obsessed with vampires––he knows it has to be fate that this is going to be a good year. But things get a little weird when their teacher starts acting odd and, of course, there’s that whole thing about AJ pretending to be a vampire and Nia being an actual slayer… SO many great pop culture references to the Twilight series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer!
The Friends trilogy
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. There's a whole series here!
Hey, Kiddo
Written and illustrated by Jarrett Krosoczka

In this National Book Award Finalist graphic memoir readers learn about Lunch Lady illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka. With his mother in and out of rehab and his father not in the picture, Jarrett lives with his grandparents who are—to put it lightly—loud and opinionated people. But they lovingly raise him and encourage him to pursue his love of drawing, and this is the story of how Jarrett became who he was meant to be all along.
Louis Undercover
Written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

Louis and his brother Truffle split their time between their mom (who’s always worried) and their dad (who suffers from alcoholism). As Louis’ parents shuttle the kids back and forth, he watches them struggle with their feelings of love and loss. As he has just fallen in love himself, Louis must learn to understand what love means to him and how to interact with the girl of his dreams.
The Lumberjanes series
Created by Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooklyn Allen

Friendship to the max! Five best friends spend a summer as Lumberjane scouts at the Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqui Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Girls Hardcore Lady-Types, but the camp is smack-dab in the middle of some pretty supernatural woods so...anything could (and will!) happen! This delightful, Eisner-winning series is finished at twenty volumes.
The Nameless City trilogy
Written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks and colored Jordie Bellaire

Though seemingly from different worlds, Kaidu and Rat find themselves on a journey together to save their city. Warring factions break out and it’s up to Kaidu and Rat to make sure their city doesn’t get lost in the war.
The Olympians series
Written and illustrated by George O'Connor

A twelve-part series (with Medusa printed across the spines of the whole set!), these books take readers through Greek mythology to meet the twelve Olympic Gods and learn the stories of the original superheroes of Earth.
Written and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani

Priyanka Das has lived her life filled with questions. Who is her father? Why did her mother leave India many years ago? And why won’t she talk about it? Pri thinks she’ll have to live her whole life surrounded by mystery until she discovers a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she puts it in she’s transported straight to India, guides included. But is this truly the India her mother left?
The Prince and the Dressmaker
Written and illustrated by Jen Wang

Prince Sebastian leads a secret life at night, dressing up in women's clothing and taking Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia. Only two people know his secret, one of whom is his best friend and brilliant dressmaker Frances. Frances dreams of being the world's hottest designer, though, and keeping Sebastian's secret means she, too, must be kept secret. How long should Frances defer her dreams to protect her best friend? And how long will Sebastian keep his identity a secret?
Written by Kit Steinkellner, illustrated by Emma Steinkellner, and created by Sebastian Kadlecik

Lupe is your average teen who's on the verge of celebrating her quinceañera. But when her quince finally arrives, something changes. Something huge. She suddenly has superpowers! But the powers only last as long as she’s fifteen, so she has one year to harness the powers for good and help save the people around her. I interview the contributors here.
Smile, Sisters, and Guts
Written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

In this autobiographical comic book trio, Raina Telgemeier delves into braces, sisters, and the sixth grade. Raina humorously recalls the events in her life through flashbacks, and readers get to know what made Raina who she is today.
Written and illustrated by Kat Leyh

Snapdragon starts working with the local town “witch” Jacks to pass the time, but it doesn’t take long at all for her to realize that Jacks isn’t pretending—they’re an actual witch! And not just that, but it seems that Jacks has a connection to Snapdragon’s past that no one could have predicted.
The Space Boy series
Written and illustrated by Stephen McCranie

A thrilling space opera that takes readers over a thousand years into the future when Earth is on the verge of discovering alien tech that could change everything. In the middle of it all is Amy, for whom everyone has a flavor. So when she meets Oliver (who doesn’t have a flavor), Amy is immediately drawn to him. Before she knows it, though, Amy finds herself on a dangerous journey to protect Oliver and stop those who might use the alien tech for evil.
Suee and the Shadow
Written by Ginger Ly and illustrated by Molly Park

Suee has always been a loner, and that doesn't change much when she transfers to Outskirts Elementary. Especially given that bullied kids (called Zeroes) end up turning into zombies. But when her shadow suddenly comes alive and forms an evil plan, Suee realizes just how much is at stake in this small, creepy town.
The Sunny series
Written by Jennifer L Holm and illustrated by Matthew Holm

Young Sunny spends a summer with her grandfather as her family attempts to help her older brother find his way again. Summer learns about adapting to new family dynamics and understanding how those around us shape the course of our lives.
The Witch Boy trilogy
Written and illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag

In Aster’s family, girls are witches and boys are shapeshifters. The only exception was a man long ago who tried to become a witch and became something much darker instead. So when Aster realizes he’s truly a witch on the inside, he must decide how he can help save his family from the impending danger that surrounds them without upsetting the natural balance of his family’s traditions. This is a trilogy.

Young Adult

As the Crow Flies
Written and illustrated by Melanie Gillman

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Lamonte is queer, black, and questioning her belief in God. Needless to say, things get uncomfortable quickly when she agrees to spend a week at an all-white Christian backpacking camp. Will she ever find someone who understands her point of view?
Written and illustrated by Danie Stirling

Ray is a young seer living in a magical world, and she loves nothing more than visiting her local witchy bakery, ordering her usual tea and slice of Romance, and watching the owner work. When the owner’s nephew, barista and aspiring musician Laurie, takes Ray by surprise as they fall in love, Ray finds herself torn between who she thinks she is supposed to be and who she could be. If only the future were clearer for her...
Check, Please!
Written and illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu

Eric Bittle is a vlogger, former figure skating champion, and he loves to bake, but being a freshman on his university's hockey team is a whole new ballgame for him. As a Georgia native with a relatively sheltered upbringing, he has to balance quite a few new challenges, like coming out to his teammates and learning how to literally roll with the punches—hockey is a contact sport after all! There are two books in this finished duology.
The Delilah Dirk series
Written and illustrated by Tony Cliff

Delilah Dirk is a carefree, vivacious, and untethered adventurer from the 19th century. When her escapades bring her to Constantinople she teams up with a Turkish tea maker, Mr. Selim, and the two travel the world together, overcoming obstacles ranging from their flying boat catching on fire to espionage to simply trying to agree with each other on a daily basis.
The Fence series
Written by C. S. Pacat, illustrated by Johanna The Mad, colored by Joana LaFuente, Lettered by Jim Campbell

Nicholas Cox finally gets the chance to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, but as the illegitimate son of one of the nation’s best fencers, he finds he has to work extra hard to prove himself in a cutthroat world he isn’t quite prepared for.
Gender Queer: A Memoir
Written and illustrated by Maia Kobabe

This book is an autobiographical account of coming out to family, charting self-identity, and exploring the ideas of being asexual and nonbinary, all against the backdrop of puberty and the normal chaos and confusion of life.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil
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. If that sounds intriguing enough, then I suggest you pick the book up. I don't want to say anymore about the story since it's fantastic and unexpected in every way.
The Heartstopper series
Written and illustrated by Alice Oseman

This love story starts with a boy meeting a boy, the boys becoming friends, and then the boys becoming more than friends. Hopeful and wholesome, this series captures budding young love, growing up with mental health issues, and the hope that comes with friends and family.
Kiss Number 8
Written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw

Mads is a high schooler with two best friends: Cat, who drags her to parties and kisses lots of boys, and her father, who joins her for minor league baseball games after church every Sunday. When a large secret threatens to tear Mads’ family apart and a journey of self-realization weighs on her friendship with Cat, Mads discovers who she truly is and how to find answers to her questions.
Lighter Than My Shadow
Written and illustrated by Katie Green

Katie has always been a picky eater, but as she grows up and enters high school and then college, she finds herself continuing to struggle with body dysmorphia and anorexia. Based on the true story of author Katie Green's battles during her formative years, Lighter Than My Shadow is a raw, honest, and deeply self reflective graphic memoir about struggling to understand oneself and learning how to seek out help and recovery.
The Lore Olympus series
Written and illustrated by Rachel Smythe

Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, travels to the Underworld only to find a glamorous and chaotic world of gossip, intrigue, and secrets. But if she wants to stay and assert her independence, she’s going to have to learn to fit in quickly. Which would be easy if she hadn’t just fallen for the King of the Underworld...
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell

This trilogy is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Beginning with his initial desire to enact change all through President Obama's inauguration, readers experience the uphill battle Lewis and his comrades had to fight in order to achieve the rights they deserve.
Written and illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter who wants to be a villain, so when she finds super villain Lord Ballister Blackheart, she's determined to be his sidekick and prove that heroism is overrated. But what starts as small vengeance turns into something much larger as Lord Blackheart discovers that Nimona isn't who she claims to be.
On a Sunbeam
Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden

A weaving together of two separate timelines, On a Sunbeam shows readers that love has no boundaries and second chances are everything. In one timeline we see two girls meeting and falling in love, only to be separated shortly after. In the other, we see an older version of one of those girls traveling through space to rebuild fallen structures—and her own past.
Written and illustrated by Marjane Satrapi

This autobiography tells the story of Marjane growing up in a large family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution. Through boarding school, living at home, and her ultimate self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland, readers journey with Marjane as she struggles to understand the actions of her country.
Sailor Twain
Written and illustrated by Mark Siegel

One of my favorite books of all time! One hundred years ago a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the Hudson River, a notoriously reclusive author makes a public debut, and a French nobleman—who seems to be losing his mind—begins talking about his search for the remedy of a curse. As the stories unfold, the mysteries that shroud each event become clearer and more connected to each other, forever altering the lives of everyone in the story.
Scott Pilgrim
Written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O’Malley

The epic six-book tale of one guy's quest to win the heart of the girl of his dreams by defeating her seven evil exes.
The Shadow Hero
Written by Gene Yang and illustrated by Sonny Liew

In the 1940s, the Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero. 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, vengeance, and heart.
Shattered Warrior
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 to save her. But how does Colleen know who she can trust?
The Spill Zone series
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. Not to mention, her sister is definitely up to something and far less innocent than she seems.
Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden

Ice skating is a central part of Tille's identity, acting as a safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But soon it loses its sparkle and and she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits into her life. As it’s a graphic memoir, we get an in-depth and relatable look at what it means to her to accept and share the more intimate parts of herself with others, including her sexuality.
The Teen Titans series
Written by Kami Garcia and illustrated by Gabriel Picolo

These reimaginings of the DC’s young superhero team by Garcia and Picolo are fast-paced and full of emotional depth. Readers get to experience origin stories of both foreground and background characters in all books, and as the series continues and the characters’ lives start to intersect, explosive and action-packed scenes begin to unfold for everyone involved.
The Woods series
Written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Michael Dialynas

Lord of the Flies meets The Twilight Zone meets Game of Thrones. In this trilogy, 500+ students, teachers, and staff from a high school are suddenly transported onto a planet millions of light years away from Earth. The rules here are definitely not the same, with other warring factions killing off students from the school and a struggle for power no one could have seen coming. Everyone will have to dig deep to find what they’re made of if they’re going to survive this together and get back to Earth.

And since you made it to the bottom of this list…
...check out some fun bonus graphic novel content, including book lists, podcast interviews I did over at The Children’s Book Podcast, and a couple of in-depth reviews I did with my buddy Matthew Winner.




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