Graphic novels are having a moment. There was a time not long ago when it was easy for most adults to view them as “not real” books. Today we know that couldn’t be further from the truth. Many graphic novels are of very high quality; the plots and characters are well developed, and they are recognised for the important contribution they make to youth literature. They can motivate reluctant readers and increase reading comprehension. And what’s even better? There are great options out there for readers of all ages.
Whether your child is 6 or heading off to high school soon, check out our list for suggestions. Many of these are part of a series, so it’s easy to get hooked on one title and feel eager to reach for the next. Suggested ages are listed below each title (but we will fully admit that we loved reading each and every one).
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
by Ben Clanton
One day, a narwhal and a jellyfish meet – neither one believing the other is real. They decide to be friends anyway, and embark on many silly adventures, with some amazing science facts sprinkled in. Narwhal and Jelly love to use their imaginations…about as much as they love waffles. (Ages 6-9 years).
Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery
Sherlock Bones is a talkative tawny frogmouth skeleton who has a best friend, Watts, a taxidermied (and not very talkative) parrot. Together these unconventional detectives set out to solve the mystery of a stolen blue diamond. This offbeat graphic novel takes place entirely inside a natural history museum, and cleverly incorporates lots of interesting facts about the natural world into the mystery narrative.
With distinctive black-and-white illustrations, goofy characters and a format that maintains interest and readability, this is a thoroughly original Australian graphic novel. (Ages 7 and up).
Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds
by Ben Clanton
Arlo, a crow of many talents, meets a tiny yellow bird named Pips. Together, they wander around the city, delighting readers with incredible information about crows (did you know they give gifts to people they like?) and plenty of jokes. (Ages 6-10 years).
Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect and Being in Charge of YOU
by Rachel Brian
If we could recommend just one book on this list, it would be this one. The information on these pages is critical for all children to read, and the illustrations and text are presented in such a way that will keep them interested. Sitting and reading this one together with your child will provide opportunity for some important conversations. (Ages 6-10 years).
Binky the Space Cat
by Ashley Spires
Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World – A Graphic Collection from Kazoo
by Kazoo Magazine
From the makers of Kazoo (an amazing magazine for kids), this collection is graphic novel meets Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. Information on each woman is clear and accessible and teaches readers about influential women. Included are figures such as fossil hunter Mary Anning, ballerina Maria Tallchief, detective Kate Warne, and explorer Jeanne Baret. (Ages 8-12 years).
Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean
by Maris Wicks
Packed with fascinating information (like radial symmetry, life cycles, animal classification, ocean salinity, reef formation, and the water cycle), science-loving kids will really enjoy this book. Coral reefs, the creatures that live within them, and their effect on other living systems are more complex than one might think. Bright illustrations and a friendly fish narrator keep readers turning the pages. (Ages 9-13 years).
Seen: True Stories of Marginalized Trailbrazers: Rachel Carson
by Birdie Willis, Rii Abrego and Kieran Quigley
This one might be a little trickier to track down; we found our copy at our local library, but it’s also sold at comic bookstores. Definitely worth the extra searching, this book tells the true story of a girl who grew up loving nature and writing, and eventually found a way to put both talents to good use. Rachel Carson changed the way the people looked at the environment, and the role we play in caring for it. (Ages 11-16 years).
The Girl from the Sea
By Molly Knox Ostertag
Morgan is 15, and her life isn’t exactly what she wants it to be. Her parents just got divorced, her little brother is being rude, and she’s hiding a pretty big secret. She’s realized she likes girls, but she doesn’t feel like she can tell anyone until she goes off to college in a few years. Then she accidentally falls into the ocean and is saved by a beautiful girl named Keltie – who turns out to be a selkie with the heart of an environmentalist. Morgan’s summer – and life – is about to change. (Ages 12-18 years).
The Adventures of Anders
By Gregory Mackay
Anders, Bernie and Eden are intrepid animal friends who have adventures that are exciting and, at times, surreal. They meet the mysterious Green Grabber in the forest. Stairs, doors and tunnels lead to surprising new locations. They enjoy an inordinate amount of flying around: by spaceship, gyrocopter, beetle (!) and blow-up castle.
Everyday play activities like cubby-making, swimming and camping, sit alongside the fantastical elements seamlessly in these adorable comics, leading to the feeling that anything is possible. Originally released as separate stories in black-and-white, these three Anders adventures are now available in full-colour and a single bind-up volume. (Ages 6 and up).