The best graphic novels and comics for kids learning to read

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been writing and drawing children’s books and comic books for kids for over 23 years. I've always loved the comic book format and visual storytelling. Reading pictures is actually very stimulating for kids and adults alike. I’m also a parent to three daughters and teach art at an elementary school locally, so I work with children and see what captures their imaginations and inspires them. As someone who’s written and illustrated numerous graphic novels for kids, moderates a children’s book review group, and reads so many of the newest books available, I selected these graphic novels as some of the best I’ve read in the different genres that have been released recently.


I wrote...

The Dragon in The Closet, Book One

By Carolyn Watson Dubisch,

Book cover of The Dragon in The Closet, Book One

What is my book about?

Orin Bean just wants to be a normal kid, but powerful forces want him dead. His only hope is the dragon he found imprisoned in his Nana's closet. Cursed before he was even born, Orin sets out on an adventure with Dragon and his best friend Lucy across this land of fairy tales to reverse the spell that has made his life in constant peril. From a close encounter with a witch in a candy cottage to an attack by bat-like cave creatures, this story keeps you on the edge of your seat!

A compilation of the first three issues of the series with 3 new chapters from issue four! **This book won first place overall in children’s books for the 2023 Outstanding Creator Awards**

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of MEXICA, Aztec Princess

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did I love this book?

Mexica is an Aztec Princess faced with her greatest challenge. She must pass her initiation test to be crowned the ruler of her people.

Set in the time of the Aztecs in what is now Mexico City, Mexica sets off to solve the three riddles with her (huge) cat, Elote, when unbeknownst to her the enemy of her people, the Tlaxcala, have launched an attack. Quickly they team up with a helpful Axolotl salamander who helps them find food and confuse the enemy… though not on purpose and make great strides in the initiation.

The twists and turns in this really wonderful story are quite a ride for the reader. The art is excellent and adds to the story and the atmosphere and is easy to follow for the young audience. What I particularly like about this book and this whole series, is that it features a princess character from a native and Latino community.

Discovering the world of the Aztecs through the eyes of a young girl is one of the best ways for kids to learn about the past. Also as an elementary art school teacher in Mexico this book really connects to my students. Mexica looks like them and reflects a world these kids only learn about in school.

By Kayden Phoenix,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked MEXICA, Aztec Princess as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mexica's princess initiation has begun. She's given three riddles by the Royal Council and must return with the respective prizes in order to be crowned.


Mexica ventures out of Aztlán with her pet ocelot, Elote, to find the prizes. Unbeknownst to her, the neighboring tribe, the Tlaxcala, is on the warpath. Mexica innocently thinks they're apart of the princess initiation and foils their plans amongst every turn; unknowingly saving the kingdom and ultimately returning as Aztlán's crowned princess.


Book cover of Ember and the Island of Lost Creatures

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did I love this book?

Ember is a very small boy, alone in a city and very overlooked.

He dreams of making friends and of going to school and fitting in. When he encounters a giant sea turtle named Lua who tells him of the island of Lost Creatures, which is where he went to school when he was small.

Lua and Ember travel together across the Ocean to find the school in some incredibly beautiful passages in the middle of the book. Their journey and his struggle to fit in at his new school make for an incredible middle grade graphic novel that really speaks to all children.

The art is just stunning and it’s an easy-to-follow and beautiful story. I’ve enjoyed this writer/artist’s other graphic novels and this new one doesn’t disappoint!

By Jason Pamment,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ember and the Island of Lost Creatures as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

From Treasure in the Lake’s Jason Pamment comes a story of friendship and self-discovery, in a gorgeously illustrated world perfect for fans of Hilda and Over the Garden Wall.

Fitting in can be hard, especially when you’re as small as Ember, a tiny boy living alone in a city of giants.

But Ember’s luck changes when he meets Lua, a kindly sea turtle, who escorts him across the ocean to a school for little creatures on a wondrous island. ­Here, Ember learns that first days can be hard, too—especially when they involve bizarre, fantastical cave-dwellers, ferocious storms, and classmates that,…


Book cover of Ranger Ralph Comic #5

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did I love this book?

Ranger Ralph and his sidekick, Elvis, the deer return in this hilarious new issue of Ranger Ralph.

After a large frozen meal of Hungry Ranger dinners Ralph falls asleep in front of the news on the TV. Even Elvis falls asleep and he misses his date with Windy. To make it up to her he decides to gather a bouquet of flowers from the side of the road. An entire hive of bees seek their revenge and Rager Ralph is in trouble again!

Very cute short stories that kids will love. The slapstick humor, bright colors, and detailed art come together to make this a great series of comics. This new issue, released in 2023, is no exception to the quality that Ranger Ralph fans have come to expect. The reading level is perfect for middle grade readers.

By Steven Oerding,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ranger Ralph Comic #5 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ranger Ralph Comic #5 continues the story from comic #4 and is the only continued story from a previous comic in the series. We follow our hero and his companion home to their log cabin in the suburbs. Redmund makes a Hungry Ranger Frozen dinner that expands into a huge 9 course meal after its cooked as we watch him devour it. He ends up asleep with Elvis on the couch in front of the TV as the neighborhood listens to him snore. They all think of ways to help stop  from snoring as we look in. The next morning…


Book cover of Pizza and Taco: Rock Out!

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did I love this book?

In this issue of the extremely funny series Pizza and Taco, they team up with two more friends, Hotdog and Hamburger to make a rock band. Lots of jokes are peppered in with the struggles of writing songs and learning to work together! This is a great series for kids in the 1st and 2nd grade reading level.

The art is fun and the graphic novel has simple layouts that makes it easy for kids to follow the action. There are some really cute band jokes right in the beginning that may go over children’s heads like “Food Fighters” and “Jam Jett”, but are still funny names.

What’s great about comics like this is that it gets kids reading and caters to an ADHD brain. Short sentences and a fast-moving plot are a great device to engage young children.

By Stephen Shaskan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pizza and Taco as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 5, 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

Besties Pizza and Taco are ready to rock out! They have a cool band name! And some instruments—sort of. Songs? Well, even without mad musical skills, how hard can it be? This super-silly graphic novel series by Stephen Shaskan hits a new high note!

Pizza and Taco love music! They make lists, and they have tryouts to get more band members. They think they have all the ingredients to rock the scene. But maybe this garage band should stay in the garage!!

This hilarious young graphic novel—with chapters—will tickle the funny bones of kids ages 5 to 8 and bolster…


Book cover of The Moth Keeper

Carolyn Watson Dubisch Why did I love this book?

In this magical and otherworldly graphic novel a village of desert dwellers were gifted by the moon spirit three enchanted moon moths and taught how to raise them so they would pollinate a special tree called “The Night Flower Tree”.

This miraculous tree bestows special gifts upon the desert people. Young Anya is to become a moth keeper and carry the “Moth Keeper’s Lantern”. This lantern keeps the moths from returning to their home in the stars and bound to earth.

This story is full of stunning artwork and magical scenes. Just an incredible coming-of-age story as Anya begins her apprenticeship. The reading level is spot on for ages 8 and up. A truly enchanting story.

By K. O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Moth Keeper as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Being a Moth Keeper is a huge responsibility and a great honor, but what happens when the new Moth Keeper decides to take a break from the moon and see the sun for the first time? From the author of the beloved Tea Dragon Society comes a must-read for fans of the rich fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki and the magical adventures of Witch Hat Atelier.

Anya is finally a Moth Keeper, the protector of the lunar moths that allow the Night-Lily flower to bloom once a year. Her village needs the flower to continue thriving and Anya is excited to…


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By Jim Brown,

Book cover of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

Jim Brown Author Of Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have spent my entire professional life quietly patrolling the frontiers of understanding human consciousness. I was an early adopter in the burgeoning field of biofeedback, then neurofeedback and neuroscience, plus theory and practices of humanistic and transpersonal psychology, plus steeping myself in systems theory as a context for all these other fields of focus. I hold a MS in psychology from San Francisco State University and a PhD from Saybrook Institute. I live in Mount Shasta CA with Molly, my life partner for over 60 years. We have two sons and two grandchildren.

Jim's book list on brain, mind, and consciousness

What is my book about?

In this thoroughly researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development.

He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind.

Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through lifelong brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.

Mindleap: A Fresh View of Education Empowered by Neuroscience and Systems Thinking

By Jim Brown,

What is this book about?

In this thoroughly-researched and exquisitely crafted treatise, Jim Brown synthesizes the newest understandings in neuroscience, developmental psychology, and dynamical systems theory for educators and others committed to nurturing human development. He explains complex concepts in down-to-earth terms, suggesting how these understandings can transform education to truly engender optimal learning and intelligence. He explores the nature of consciousness, intelligence, and mind. Brown then offers a model of optimal human learning through life-long brain development within a supportive culture--drawing on the work of Piaget, Erickson, Maslow, Kohlberg, and Steiner--and how that work is being vastly expanded by neuroscience and dynamical systems thinking.


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