I have consulted with the queen of graphic novels, my 4th grader, Scarlet, and her rowdy crew of graphic novel-loving friends to create this list of the 12 best graphic novels for kids. These are the best graphic novels for 4th graders, and some 3rd graders, and most 5th graders. They are definitely the best graphic novels for girls, according to my daughter, but they will be loved by boys too. I don’t need to sell you on the value of graphic novels, right? Your kids love them and they spend time with BOOKS instead of with screens, while learning a lesson here or there, so it’s an all around win. Let’s get right into our list of the best graphic novels for kids…
The 12 Best Graphic Novels for Girls (and Boys too)
This list of the best graphic novels for girls is in no particular order. Scarlet and her friends voted for all of these, I have a few favorites that I will mention below. All of these graphic novels would be great gifts to get this holiday season – you’ll find your kids running to a quiet corner to read as though you had just given them a chest full of treasure.
1. El Deafo
I put this book first because it is my favorite of all the graphic novels for kids, especially girls. This graphic novel is a memoir of the author, Cece Bell, and her experience losing her hearing at a young age, then getting a very powerful hearing aid that eventually allows her to become “El Deafo, Listener for All”. All of her awkward moments will ring true to any child, hearing or not.
2. Invisible Emmie
This one is a bit of a novel, in a handwritten type with graphics throughout. It’s about two unlikely friends who meet after an embarrassing note falls into the wrong hands. It’s kid drama at its finest and your kid will love it. As you can see from the spine, Scarlet has read it over and over and over again.
In this graphic novel, Cat and her sister Maya move to a new city because Maya has cystic fibrosis and the climate will be better for her. They soon go on a mission to meet a ghost, as they’ve heard the area is haunted. It’s not scary, but adventerous. This is Scarlet’s favorite by Raina Telgemeier, but get the others too as they are all re-read numerous times and Scarlet insisted that every single one must be on any list of best graphic novels for girls, including Smile, Sisters, and Drama.
4. Roller Girl
Astrid struggles with losing a friend over the summer, and other junior high aches and pains, but finds peace through the unlikely sport of Roller Derby. This won a Newberry Honor Award and is just charming as heck. Also pick up All’s Faire in Middle School, also by Victoria Jamieson; its become one of Scarlet’s favorites as well.
5. Real Friends
This book is about how friendships change as you grow up, and has some quality lessons about bullying and finding your true self, and your real friends.
6. Swing It, Sunny
Sunny tries to remain cheerful as the summer ends and changes are all around her at home and school. A mysterious neighbor and her positive attitude help her navigate this little slice of growing up. While you’re at it, check out Sunny Side Up, also by Jennifer L. Holm.
7. Zita the Spacegirl
This whole series is just adorable and Zita is a bad***. I love her. Her friend was abducted by an alien, so she had to go to outerspace and become an intergalactic hero amongst hilarious monsters like humanoid chickens and creepy robots. She always saves the day in a really unique way.
Peppi starts off the school year wanting to be popular, and makes a huge mistake in bullying another kid. She works through her shame and redeems herself, while learning some lessons along the way. Grab this one and Brave, also by Svetlana Chmakova.
9. 5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior
Scarlet loved the Amulet series, and this first book in the 5 Worlds series by the same author, Kazu Kibuishi, introduces a world that promises to be even more entrancing. The 5 worlds are on the brink of extinction and must be saved. It’s mystical, exciting, and the illustrations are just magical.
10. Lucy & Andy Neanderthal
Two cave kids from the stone age go around doing kid stuff, 40,000 years ago. These books are lighthearted and really funny. They make for easy reading and an all around good time.
11. Mighty Jack
An updated take on Jack and the Beanstalk, this series stars Jack, who is left to care for his autistic little sister Maddy, who doesn’t speak… until one day she does, telling him to buy some magic beans. You can guess what adventures happen next. Scarlet’s favorite in the series so far is Mighty Jack and the Goblin King.
12. Cleopatra in Space
A young Cleopatra gets zapped from ancient times to way far into the future, where she has to study hard (algebra, biology, combat training) so she can save the galaxy. I love everything about these books, from the message to the illustrations. They’re just rad.
Honorable Mentions: The The Baby-Sitters Club Series, the Dork Diaries Series, the Phoebe and Her Unicorn Series, and the Star Wars: Jedi Academy Series are all great graphic novels for which Scarlet anxiously awaits the latest releases.
So now that you have our picks for the 12 best graphic novels for girls, also check out our favorite posts about books, including lists of 12 Great Children’s Books for Black History Month and Beyond, Best Middle Grade Books Part 1, Best Middle Grade Books Part 2, and just for fun It’s Banned Book Week: 10 Kid Books We Wish We Could Ban from Our Own Homes.