Book List: How Dungeons & Dragons in Your Library Aids Social Emotional Learning

Book List: How Dungeons & Dragons in Your Library Aids Social Emotional Learning

Book List: How Dungeons & Dragons in Your Library Aids Social Emotional Learning

There are many benefits to encouraging kids and teens to enjoy a chaotic game of Dungeons & Dragons. Those kids rolling critical hits in the corner of your library or after school club are actually improving their math, reading comprehension, mental health, and social behaviors.

Dungeons & Dragons, the famed role playing game that took over the 80s, has made a recent boom in popular culture. Eddie Munson in Stranger Things, the well waxed Adventure Zone podcast, #DnD Tiktok, and celebrities playing with Critical Role are giving the next generation a new love for a game where kids and teens can free themselves from social anxiety and explore their own identities, including trying out pronouns for the first time. In this game, they can grow those skills to understand not only themselves, but also how to strengthen storytelling abilities, character creation, role playing, and mathematics.

Dungeons & Dragons is particularly popular amongst neurodiverse and queer gamers as a safe place where diversity and friendship is more powerful in a world of social challenges. Libraries hosting D&D events + after school clubs are becoming more and more frequent. Below, you’ll find books for the kids and teens who want to read more books like Dungeons & Dragons.

Find resources here from the International Literacy Association (ILA) on Dungeons & Dragons instructions and webinars, including how D&D can build important skills. You can find classroom resources here. Download a PDF of books included in this list and more resources here.


The Adventure Zone: Here There Be Gerblins

By Clint McElroy, Griffin McElroy, Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Carey Pietsch
Illustrated by Carey Pietsch

Many Dungeons & Dragons podcasts become a resource for kids and teens. The McElroys roll their first author adventure with this graphic novel in the popular fantasy adventure series, The Adventure Zone. Based on their home brewed podcasting adventures, three dudes and their dad play a tabletop role playing game. Taako the elf wizard, Merle the dwarf cleric, and Magnus the human warrior go on an adventure they aren’t qualified to do. Tagging along is their snarky Dungeon Master, who guides them in their failures and triumphs in a story perfectly made for kids and teens who love to play Dungeons & Dragons at their after school library club. A crossover title for teens, The McElroy’s graphic novel series is a critical primer for teachers & librarians looking outside the box for their displays, courses on storytelling, and students that want to be just like the Stranger Things kids.

Book List: How Dungeons & Dragons in Your Library Aids Social Emotional Learning

Fart Quest

By Aaron Reynold
Illustrated by Cam Kendell | Ages 8-12

Dungeons & Dragons meets potty humor in this graphic novel of brave personalities, magical friendships, and wild adventures. After their masters are vaporized in a goblin battle gone bad, Fart, Pan, and Moxie decide to impersonate their mentors and pick up the mantle as heroes of the realm. They need more than a fancy robe, magic staff, and book of magical beasts to be real heroes. They need a quest. When The Great and Powerful Kevin puts out a call for help, young Fart and his friends embark on an adventure.

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Dungeon Critters

By Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter | Ages 8-12

Dungeons & Dragons with animal companions in Dungeon Critters by Natalie Riess and Sara Goetter in this middle grade graphic novel. With quests, evil plants, magic & mayhem, this book will appeal most to the D&D player who always has a comics or graphic novel in their backpack, along with their dice, character cards, and handbook. A tight crew of animal companions go on a wild adventure investigating through haunted dungeons, swamps, and high society balls. Motivated by rivalries, ideals, and adventuring, the Dungeon Critters navigate perils and dangers of the natural world and dangers of the heart.

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Complete the Quest: the Poisonous Library

By Brian McLachlan | Ages 8-12

In this role-playing adventure, D&D players can save their kingdom in a graphic novel that reads like a game. To save the poisoned queen, readers must pick a team of heroes to traverse across a perilous fantasy landscape. From the witch’s desert tomb to a giant’s palace in the sky, you can choose the path the story goes. Go on a journey, meet new heroes, battle a dungeon dragon, and discover an evil plot that threatens the entire realm. Complete the Quest: the Poisonous Library provides an easy reference to help readers learn the mechanics of role-playing games.

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The Sunbearer Trials

High stake magical competitions are perfect for all D&D lovers. In The Sunbearer Trials, teen semidoses fight in a new Mexican-inspired fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author Aiden Thomas. Teo, a teen Jade and trans son of the goddess of birds doesn’t worry about himself but of his best friend Niya. When Sol chooses two Jade competitors, five trials against Gold opponents change things. Teo is determined to help his friends survive the trials.

By Aiden Thomas | Ages 13-18

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Six of Crows

By Leigh Bardugo | Ages 12-18

Leigh Bardugo’s world is eerily similar to Dungeons & Dragons, none more so than Six of Crows. In Ketterdam, a bustling hub of international trade, anything can be won for the right price–and no one knows this better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. When he’s offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich, he jumps at the chance but can’t pull it off alone: A convict, a sharpshooter, a runaway, a spy, a heartrender, and a thief. Six dangerous outcasts on one impossible heist.

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Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit

By Jesse Q. Sutanto | Ages 8-12

Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit by Jesse Q. Sutanto is about a boy learning to embrace his Chinese American culture as he goes on an adventure to solve the mystery of his brother’s death in this middle grade fantasy. Theo Tan prefers to play video games, go to cons, and cast spells with his cirth pendants. Inheriting his older brother’s fox spirit, Kai, changes his whole life. Theo and Kai have to make friends as they find clues and secret codes in Jamie’s old journal, much like Dungeons & Dragons campaigners. Like the magical quests about discovering identity, making friends, and defeating evil in a humorous adventure, Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit would appeal to role playing adventurer in your school or library.

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The Well

By Jake Wyatt
Illustrated by Choo | Ages 14-18

Lizzy, a girl cursed by a wishing well, falls into an adventure of wishes to break this curse. Known to friends as Li-Zhen, Lizzy cares for her grandfather, flirts with the ferrywoman, and stays away from the monsters of the night. When Lizzy steals some coins to cover a debt, the well requires repayment in wishes or its minions will drown her. On a quest to uncover hidden memories, great wealth, and magical secrets, Lizzy campaigns to win back all that she has lost. Capturing the grand scope and magical wonders that Dungeons & Dragons creates for teens wanting to explore identity and escapism, The Well is a modern fable of magical, wishes, and family secrets.

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Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring

By Matthew Loux | Ages 6-10

A sweet but macabre graphic novel for young readers, Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring will appeal to gamers and fantasy readers. Prunella unearths a strange skull-shaped ring in her garden. It transforms her into a skeleton girl, terrifying her monster-fearing village, which gets her exiled from her home. Wandering the wilderness, she discovers monsters aren’t as bad as she’s been led to believe. With the undead pirate Captain Rip Skeleton and Francis, a floating, fiery skull, Prunella hopes to find a way to reverse the curse.

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The Golden Age

By Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa

For any kid that loves the dark lit taverns and grand epic quests, The Golden Age will summon those very classical D&D aesthetics. A medieval saga ripe with the grim politics of Game of Thrones, this graphic novel duology from Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa is about utopia and revolution. In Lantrevers, the land is overwhelmed by poverty and strict class prejudices. Heir of King Ronan, Princess Tilda hopes to save her people from famine and strife. But on the eve of her coronation, her younger brother usurps her throne at the heel of power hungry lords. With the help of allies, Tankred and Bertil, she goes on a quest through the hinterland to reclaim her throne.

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Little Thieves

By Margaret Owen | Ages 14-18

A scrappy maid must outsmart palace nobles and Low Gods in a new YA fantasy by Margaret Owen, author of the Merciful Crow series. The adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, Vanja was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. When her otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price, Vanja decided to steal her future by stealing Gisele’s life. Vanja leaves a lonely but lucrative double life as a princess and jewel thief. With heists, curses, half gods, and feral guardians, this will appeal to teens who love a smartly pulled heist in their D&D campaigns. Inspired by the fairy tale, “The Goose Girl”, and with characters that feel plucked from a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, this book of wicked girls and D&D level heists is the perfect book for librarians & teachers that want to find more books with ace-spec characters, stories that flip gendered tropes in fantasy, fairy tales, and teens that have difficulty finding books that meet their interests.

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The Marvellers

By Dhonielle Clayton | Ages 8-12

Dhonielle Clayton’s first middle grade is a fantasy adventure is a book made for every kid wanting an inventive Dungeons & Dragons campaign of unique friendships, mind blowing worldbuilding, magical students leveling up, and big bads. Eleven-year-old Ella Durand is the first Conjuror to attend the Arcanum Training Institute, where Marvellers from around the world practice their cultural arts, like brewing Indian spice elixirs and bartering with pesky Irish pixies. Ella discovers that being the first isn’t easy. Some Marvellers mistrust her magic, labelling it as “bad and unnatural.” Ella finds friends in teacher, Masterji Thakur, and misfits Brigit, who hates magic, and Jason, a boy with a fondness for magical companions. When a dangerous criminal, the Ace of Anarchy, escapes prison, tensions grown in this magical world and Ella becomes the number one suspect. With the help of her friends, Ella hopes to find a way to clear her family’s name and track down her missing teacher before it’s too late.

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By Elisa A. Bonin | Ages 14-18

A teen girl must bring two broken worlds together to save her nation in a Filipino-inspired fantasy. In Seri’s world, beasts prowl the forest and hung the People. The valiant explore the world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from beasts. Assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander, Seri has seen the struggle to keep beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People live. Tsana is a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts. When Seri and Tsana grow closer, their world collide with deadly consequences.

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A Blade So Black

By L.L. McKinney | Ages 14-18

L.L. McKinney’s A Blade So Black delivers a grim retelling of Alice in Wonderland. When the Nightmares came, it nearly cost Alice her life. Alice is trained to battle monstrous creatures in the dark dream realm known as Wonderland with magic weapons and hardcore fighting skills. In Atlanta, Alice juggles an overprotective mom, a high-maintenance best friend, and a slipping GPA. When Alice’s handsome and mysterious mentor is poisoned, she has to find the antidote by adventuring deeper into Wonderland. This is a fantasy adventure that will appeal to fans of the nightmares and D&D questing of Stranger Things.

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Cat’s Cradle: the Golden Twine

By Jo Rioux | Ages 8-12

From the beloved illustrator of The Daughter of Ys is a fantasy adventure for the “dice rolling” dungeon masters in your schools + libraries. Cat’s Cradle: the Golden Twine follows Suri, who loves monsters–their lore, their stories. Suri’s self confidence, cleverness, and ambition serve her well when a mysterious new wagon joins her camp holding a very big monster. Before Suri runs afoul of a treacherous family and their own beastly secret, a prince hunts the greatest monster of all.

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Girl Giant and the Monkey King

By Van Hoang | Ages 8-12

Van Hoang’s Girl Giant and the Monkey King is a middle grade fantasy for fans of D&D, Rick Riordan, and Roshani Chokshi. Eleven-year-old Thom Ngho is freakishly strong without even leveling up, but it’s made it near impossible for her to fit in at her new school. In a desperate attempt to rid herself of this ability, Thom makes a deal with the Monkey King, a deity and trickster she accidentally released from his 500-year prison sentence. Agreeing to go on a quest for his magical staff in exchange for a life of normalcy, Thom is swept up in an ancient and fantastical world of demons, dragons, and Jade princesses. Jade goes on a self discovering quest, where she learns magic isn’t the cure for everything and trickster gods are more trouble than they’re worth.

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They Threw Us Away

By Daniel

By Daniel Kraus
Illustrated Rovina Cai | Ages 10-14

The Teddies Saga is a macabre fairy tale of snuggles and teddy bears. From New York Times bestselling author Daniel Kraus and illustrator Rovina Cai is a new middle grade fantasy series. Buddy is a teddy bear made to be loved, but he and others soon discover they’ve been discarded. On a quest to get back to the Store to fulfill their destinies, they embark on a journey across the garbage dump and into another world of rats, gulls, and a menacing world. Like a grim Toy Story meets the questing of Dungeons & Dragons, They Threw Us Away will appeal to dark fantasy enthusiasts.

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Con Quest!

By Sam

By Sam Maggs | Ages 8-12

Con Quest is a graphic novel about fandom, comic con, and gamer adventures for young readers wanting to find their community in the world. Cat and Alex are excited to be at the comics convention and to enter in the Quest, a scavenger hunt run by their favorite nerdy celebrity. The twins set off to find geeky clues, tackle nerdy challenges, and cross as many items off their Quest list. Working together, the twins learn how compete even when they disagree on something. A Quest for D&D nerds, cosplayers, and nerdom.


Julia’s House for Lost Creatures

By Ben Hatke | Ages 4-8

For the local library’s D&D player that love the cozier, Stardew Valley variety of questing and campaigning. When Julia and her walking house come to town, she likes everything about the new neighborhood but hates how quiet it is. She places a sign, “Julia’s House for Lost Creatures,” and soon she becomes the host of goblins, mermaids, fairies, and a dragon. From the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator Ben Hatke, Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is a lush, detailed picture book the dragon loving, dungeon dwelling kids in the library.

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