Any children’s librarian can attest: one of the most common questions we get is “My kid loved Dog Man. What else can they read?”
Dog Man is a wildly popular graphic novel series for ages 6 – 10, and if you’ve ever read it, you know why. They are full of silliness, adventure, and character development. Those three main aspects (humor, excitement, and emotion) ensure that pretty much any child reader has something to grab on to. Even reluctant readers love Dog Man, making it a perfect gateway to a life-long love of reading.
When someone asks me “What else can they read?” I could just start listing a bunch of great books. But what I try to do instead is find out why they love Dog Man. In fact, I do this every time someone asks me for a readalike, no matter the book. I imagine most librarians do. We didn’t learn all the intricacies of a reader’s advisory interview in our MLIS for nothing!
So, here is a list of books like Dog Man, based on the element that most interests the reader. All of the books on this list have some combination of humor, excitement, and emotion, and all of them are either graphic novels or highly illustrated chapter books. I named the categories using the most common answers I get when I ask kids, “Why do you like Dog Man?”
This is the most common answer, and who can blame them! Dog Man’s humor is often LOL-worthy. Sometimes slapstick, sometimes toilet-based, and usually way over the top. Here are some comparable books that are driven by humor.
Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
This silly Australian series about criminal animals trying to be “good” is probably the one that has the most crossover appeal to Dog Man. But the resounding thing that I hear from kids is that it makes them laugh. It is a highly illustrated chapter book, but many kids refer to them as comics.
Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that a lot of kids who like Dog Man will like the author’s other series: Captain Underpants. It’s a good bridge from graphic novels to chapter books, especially since there is character crossover.
Lunch Lady by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The mysterious lunch lady at an elementary school turns out to be something of a secret agent in this series of silly graphic novels. These are often described as “laugh out loud funny” in reviews, and I’ve heard evidence of that when kids read them!
The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry
Cute and funny series of illustrated chapter books is about a Yeti who has a mission to study all other humanoid creatures. They are a quick read, and keep readers’ attentions hooked with the imaginative illustrations.
Stick Dog by Tom Watson
Easy reading chapter book great for kids who are reluctant to try a novel. It’s full of sketches of Stick Dog, as he goes on a quest to find the perfect hamburger.
Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires
Binky sets off to go to space, but is conflicted because who will be left to protect his owners from an alien invasion! Kids love the humor in this series, which often comes from the exaggeration of the cat perspective. Very silly, fun illustrations. Good for younger fans of Dog Man (ages 7 – 8).
Hilo by Judd Winick
“Hi Lo” is a reference to high interest, low reading level. Dog Man is often categorized in this group, and the Hilo graphic novels series definitely is too. Hilo is a superhero kid who appeared on Earth one day, and has no idea where he came from. Dav Pilkey himself provided a blurb for Hilo, along with Neil Gaiman, Seth Meyers, and Lincoln Pierce.
CatStronauts by Drew Brockington
The four best catstonauts on Earth take off to explore space… in the name of science of course! In this very silly and action-packed series, everyone is a cat, which provides many jokes. Personally I loved this series very much.
Readers who like the battles and the high stakes in Dog Man books will probably enjoy action / adventure graphic novels. This is a huge category, so I chose titles that are very popular, or similar to Dog Man in style, or both!
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
Jack is a normal kid who gets pulled into a fantasy world through a portal. He discovers magical creatures and becomes ingrained in their wars. Like Dog Man it is very cartoony, has several silly moments, and is legitimately exciting. Also see the Mighty Jack and Zita the Spacegirl crossover graphic novels.
Kung Pow Chicken Cyndi Marko
I mean, you can probably just say the title of this book to a lot of kids and get a laugh out of them. This is a highly illustrated early chapter book, meant for younger readers, and perfect for young reluctant readers. The plot is very fast-paced, and it really is about a superhero chicken. Kind of like a certain superhero dog we all know and love…
Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi
One of the most popular graphic novels series for kids, Amulet reads like a movie. Emily discovers a magical amulet and must learn to use its powers to save her family… and the world. This is a fantasy story with load of high stakes adventure and a depth of character development.
The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, and Xanthe Bouma
Slightly lighter and more cartoony than Amulet, but a similar premise. In this graphic novel series, three unlikely kids are brought together to help save their worlds from a space war. There’s magic, adventure, battles, and slapstick comedy.
Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack
What would happen is the actual Cleopatra from ancient Egypt got pulled into the future to fight a space tyrant? And got to use her awesome combat skills to fulfill a prophecy? It’s action-packed, funny, and unexpected.
Three Thieves series by Scott Chandler
An adventure-packed graphic novel series about three circus performers who work together on various missions. There is a lot of heart in these books, as well as gripping mysteries. Great for older Dog Man fans who like adventure.
Percy Jackson graphic novel series by Rick Riordan
When mythological creatures start showing up in Percy Jackson’s regular life, he takes on the role of the hero. But he ends up angering the gods and gets swept up in an epic adventure. Younger kids looking to get started with Percy Jackson would be a great target audience for this one.
Minecraft graphic novel series by Sfé R. Monster and Sarah Graley
If a kid likes Minecraft and Dog Man, all you need to do is show them the cover of the book and they’ll be interested. This is a diverse story about three kids who know each other through planing Minecraft together, great for older Dog Man readers. There are also plenty of official an unofficial chapter books about Minecraft characters that would appeal to younger readers.
DC Superhero Girls by Shay Fontana and Yancey Labat
Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Bumble Bee, and more awesome superheroes fight against evil villains and develop friendships. I have read several of these and find them entertaining and widely appealing.
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yang, Bryan Konietzko, Michael Dante DiMartino
While this story is fun more than funny, Avatar can quickly hook its readers and become an obsession. This fantasy graphic novel series and accompanying TV show includes multiple magical worlds, and plenty of brave heroes.
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
Much more a story of adventure and relationships than one of humour, The Nameless City could be a good transition for older readers into meatier stories. Known for great world building and satisfying character arcs, yet still cartoony, if a Dog Man reader is open to a more serious story, give this a try.
“I like the robots!”
I commonly hear this as a secondary reason why kids loved Dog Man. They liked the imaginative characters, and may be more receptive to fantasy elements in their stories.
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
Over the years, I think I’ve put this graphic novel in the hands of hundreds of readers. A girl gets sucked into a portal and has to try to find her way back home from an alien planet. Like Dog Man it is appealing on many levels. One of the main ones is all the cool robot and alien creatures.
Jedi Academy by Jeffry Brown
Easy-to-read, and packed with cartoon representations of the wildest Star Wars characters, if kids like imaginative characters and Dog Man, this is a pretty safe bet.
Plants vs Zombies by Paul Tobin
Killer plants! Hungry Zombies! Who will win?! Originally a video game, this graphic novel series is easy to get into, especially for readers who are excited by the bizarre plant characters.
Phoebe and her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson
If the reader is into unicorns at ALL, this is an easy sell. It is cartoony and irreverent like Dog Man, with a short burst comic strip style, and it just makes you feel good.
Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer
Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy by Doug Savage
Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson
Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill
Ghost Hog by Joey Weiser
“I just like Dog Man and Lil Petey!”
While not as common as “it’s funny” or “it’s exciting,” I do hear answers like this from time to time. Dog Man books do an impressive amount of character development in their action packed pages, and readers who enjoy that aspect of Dog Man might also like:
Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate has both a novel and a graphic novel series, mainly set in a sixth grade classroom. The stories are about Nate (a rebellious prankster and drummer) and his family and friends. There are a lot of silly moments, but there’s some real relationship stuff in there too.
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows and Sophie Blackall
Two girls who are complete opposites become best friends and experience adventures together. Oh and they can do magic. These are short chapter books with many illustrations, good for younger Dog Man fans.
The Sisters series by Christophe Cazenove and William Maury
Very cartoony and easy to read, this graphic novel series was popular in the UK before making its way over to North America. It follows the often dramatic relationship between two sisters.
Smile by Raina Telegemeier
If the reader knows of Dog Man and likes relationship stories, there is a 99% chance that they’ve already read Sisters, Smile, and Guts. But just in case: this graphic novel series is mega popular, and tells relatable stories about anxiety, bullying, and family. Also see: Real Friends by Shannon Hale, Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuck, Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm, Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson, and the illustrated chapter book series The Derby Daredevils by Kit Rosewater.
Baby-sitter’s Club Graphic Novels by Ann M. Martin and Gale Galligan
With a Netflix show and this extremely popular graphic novel reboot, Baby-sitter’s Club is having a moment. Kids who like cartoony relationship stories without anything too heavy will enjoy these. Younger readers can try the Baby-Sitters Little Sisters series.
“It’s a Cartoon!”
Readers who like the cartoon aspect of the book are looking for other easy-to-read, bright, exaggerated, and highly illustrated books. Try:
Lots to choose from here, and it’s as cartoony as it gets. Based on the popular all ages Cartoon Network series, these graphic novels really feel like you are watching the show. Kids do not need to be fans of the show to enjoy the books. Fun, ridiculous, highly imaginative, and positive.
Yes, kids are still reading Garfield! Some are interested in the traditional comic-strip compilations, but more are into the Papercutz series which is adapted from the Cartoon Network show. Easy, slapstick comedy, with animal cartoons.
Snoopy the Beagle of Mars
This comic could be an easy sell because it’s a recognizable character, it’s a dog, and it’s an adventure story. It’s a classic cartoon with about the same amount of text as Dog Man.
Teen Titans GO! and Tiny Titans
Teen Titans GO! is great for fans of the show, and Tiny Titans is great for the younger set of Dog Man fans. The plot is quick, just like a cartoon show, and the style is gripping.
A super sweet Adventure-Time-esque series of graphic novels, set in the distant future. This is a good choice for the older Dog Man readers who like cartoons. It has adventure, wholesome humor, and great character development.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Sonic the Hedgehog
Chi’s Sweet Home
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
“I don’t know!”
Sometimes the reader isn’t there to “interview” and sometimes the reader has no idea why they like Dog Man. In case of emergency, try any of the above suggestions. But the books that are most thematically and appealingly similar to Dog Man would have to be: Bad Guys, Captain Underpants, Jedi Academy, Lunch Lady, and Big Nate. In the case of a kid who is not interested in discussing their preferences, I give the kid a stack of these books and encourage them to read the first couple pages and only take what they like. Some kids feel embarrassed, forced, or even unable to read, so I try to take the pressure off whenever I sense this. Let them peruse, and check in with them after a few minutes.
Dog Man’s success is in part due to its wide array of appeal factors, which is why it is such a good gateway to other books. Next time a reader or parent asks for Dog Man readalikes, try finding out which gateway they want to go through.
What Dog Man read-a-likes do you like to recommend, and for which type of reader?