Sunday, June 3, 2012

Top graphic novels in our school, 2011-2012

The school year is winding down and each year I look at our circulating statistics to see what our students are checking out. Numbers really do reveal patterns - books that catch fire a certain year, and trends year to year. I'd like to share our most popular books by category in our library. I'll start with the most popular category - graphic novels, move on to fiction, then share beginning readers, picture books and nonfiction.

I teach in a diverse, urban elementary school in Berkeley, California. We have about 300 students, and checked out over 14,000 books during the 2011-2012 school year. Our students check out two books each week for one week.

Our students adore graphic novels. They eat them up, passing them from friend to friend, checking them out again and again. Our most popular graphic novels include new favorites as well as popular ones from the past few years. Interestingly, even though the Tintin movie came out this year, none of our Titin books were checked out by large numbers of students. Here are our top circulating graphic novels:

1. Sidekicks, by Dan Santat (3 copies circulated 63 times)
Our students have loved the action and adventure that Roscoe and Fluffy get into, as they try to prove to Captain America that they will be loyal, steadfast sidekicks. This graphic novel pulls in readers from as young as 1st and 2nd grade all the way up to 5th grade. Great art, great story, great characters = a winning combination from Dan Santat.

2. Smile, by Raina Telgemeier (3 copies circulated 57 times)
Based on Raina Telgemeier's real life dental drama, Smile captures the ups and downs of peer pressure, anxiety and friendship issues in middle school. This book appeals to girls who love the realistic friendship story, boys who love the visual storytelling, all students who can relate to the school drama. Our students are thrilled to learn that Raina has a new book out this fall: watch for Drama in September!

3. Squish, Super Amoeba, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (2 copies circulated 53 times)
From the daring duo who created Babymouse, this is the first in their new series Squish - a definite winner in my students' opinion! Squish is your regular kid who loves to read comic books, eat twinkies and hang with his friends. Well, a regular kid, except that he's an amoeba. A what? Yes, he's an amoeba, a single celled organism who hangs out in your local pond. Jenni and Matt Holm capture so many real aspects of being a kid, and yet they've created these fun, silly creatures with clear fantasy twists.

4. Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco, by Jarrett Krosoczka (2 copies circulated 39 times)
Hooray for the Lunch Lady and the Breakfast Bunch! They discover some suspicious paintings on a field trip to a local museum, and are determined to get to the bottom of this mystery. The Lunch Lady series continues to be wildly popular at our school, again drawing a wide range of students from 2nd grade through 4th and 5th grade.

5. The Baby-sitter's Club: a graphic novel - Kirsty's Great Idea, by Raina Telgemeier, based on the novels by Ann Martin (2 copies circulated 38 times)
Raina Telgemeier created this graphic adaptation of Ann Martin's best-selling series over 6 years ago, and each year our 3rd graders discover it, falling in love with these friendship stories. This is the sort of books kids carry everywhere - to soccer games, in the car, to the lunch room. Yes, I have to keep replacing our copies, but I love the way it hooks kids into reading!

6. Squish #2: Brave New Pond, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (2 copies circulated 36 times)
Yes! Squish certainly has appealed to our students! Here's the publisher's description of Brave New Pond: "He's baa-ack! It's a brand new school year for everyone's favorite AMOEBA! Will Squish finally get to sit with the cool kids at lunch? Will Pod stop the giant asteroid from destroying the world? Will the LEECHES be the end of Super Amoeba? And what makes cafeteria nachos so delicious anyway? Find out the answers to these questions and more in Squish's second electrifying, action-packed adventure."

7. Rapunzel's Revenge, by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (2 copies circulated 34 times)
This was the first graphic novel I read, and the combination of story and artwork still fascinates me! I was not a comic-book reader as a kid, but I loved fairy tales. They captured my imagination. So when I read Shannon and Dean Hale's twist on Rapunzel set in the Old West, I loved it! Add to that amazing, vibrant visual storytelling from Nathan Hale and you have a book that keeps intriguing children. This is a great example of a long, complex story that hooks kids.

8. Amulet #4, the last council, by Kazu Kibuishi (1 copy circulated 31 times)
The Amulet series took off in our school this year, first with a group of 5th grade boys and then spreading out to a wider group of students, ranging from 3rd through 5th grades. They love the intricate storytelling, the adventures and dangers facing Emily and her friends, and the fantasy world they explore. My students have been hotly debating whether a 5th book is in the works. I'm not sure if a publication date has been set, but I do know that Kazu Kibuishi has been working on the sequel.

9. Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity, by Dave Roman (2 copies circulated 31 times)
This quirky story appeals to kids who love visual storytelling, a cast of characters and short mini-stories within the overall story. Hakata Soy struggles to adjust to his new school, Astronaut Academy, especially after the most popular girl starts picking on him.

10. Babymouse: Our Hero, by Jennifer and Matthew Holm (2 copies circulated 29 times)
The Babymouse series continues to draw readers multiple times. Our Hero and A Very Babymouse Christmas were checked out 29 times. Other popular Babymouse books include Babymouse: Rock Star, Babymouse: Cupcake Tycoon and Babymouse: Skater Girl - all in our top 20 graphic novels. Babymouse love is still going strong at our school!

Many libraries shelve the graphic novels in the nonfiction section. We've pulled them out and given them their own space next to fiction because they appeal to students much like fiction does, with creative, inventive stories. If you'd like to see a broad range of other nonfiction, head over Nonfiction Monday. Today it's hosted by True Tales with a Cherry On Top!

If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books.


  1. First of all, bravo to you and your library for checking out over 14,000 books during the school year! That's wonderful! And thanks for compiling this list and description of popular graphic novels -- I'm intrigued by this genre. I plan to start with Lunch Lady and the Field Trip Fiasco (that would have definitely drawn me when I was a girl).

    And thanks again for joining the Nonfiction Monday round-up today!

  2. I have GOT to read a Sidekicks novel-I keep hearing great things about them.

    I LOVE AND ADORE AND CHERISH BABYMOUSE!!! In fact, I'm about to read one now! The cupcake tycoon one! My 6th graders LOVED Babymouse-and I think they couldn't believe that I was actually letting them read them-my philosophy is "read what you want and can understand and enjoy"! :)


  3. Jeanne - thanks! It's fun to look at the end of the year statistics. I'm going to be reading more of the Lunch Lady books this summer - they're a huge draw for our kids.

    Shannon, I hope you get Sidekicks soon. It was one of my own favorite reads last summer. So much fun, such great artwork, characters and story. Plus, our kids just love, love, love it! I love your philosophy - read what you want and can understand and enjoy!