Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Ten graphic novels to read again & again (ages 8-15)

Graphic novels have hooked many kids on reading. Kids find their favorites, reading them again and again, but I also love to encourage my students to read widely. I also encourage parents to read aloud graphic novels with their kids -- these stories are full of things to talk about and enjoy together.

Here are ten of my favorite graphic novels--some are silly, some are out of this world, and some will make you think and wonder. Check out my Graphic Novels shelf on Goodreads for more. All of them have terrific characters and stories that make you want to keep reading.

Amulet series, by Kazu Kibuishi: This series combines mystery, adventure and fantasy as Emily and her younger brother search for their mother, captured in an alternate universe. Em and Navin follow their mother into an underground world full of demons, robots, and talking animals. A favorite series with its epic fantasy and adventure. (ages 9-14)

The Baby-Sitters Club series, by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeier and Gale Galligan. These graphic novel adaptations add energy and humor to Ann Martin’s classic Baby Sitters Club series. Four best friends help each other deal with everything from crabby toddlers, enormous dogs and prank calls. With relatable characters and straight-forward plots, these make a great entry into graphic novels for developing readers. Definitely check out the two new books in this series, just released this year. (ages 7-12)

Giants Beware!, by Jorge Aguirre, illustrated by Rafael Rosado: Claudette, a feisty warrior-in-training, is determined to follow her father's footsteps and slay a giant. Never mind that she's tiny, hotheaded, and a girl--she is absolutely sure she's perfect for the job. Aguirre and Rosado weave in surprises, tension and plot twists throughout the story. Best of all, Claudette constantly defies the expectations society sets for her. (ages 8-12)

El Deafo, by Cece Bell: When she was four years old, cartoonist Cece Bell became severely deaf after she contracted meningitis. This delightful, heartfelt memoir shares her journey through school, searching for friends, trying to fit in and dealing with her deafness. She mixes warmth and humor with complex issues. (ages 8-12)

Hilo series, by Judd Winick: D.J. Lim’s life turns from ordinary to exciting when he discovers Hilo, an extraterrestrial boy wearing nothing but silver underpants. This story is full of action and humor, as Hilo and D.J. battle robots and giant insects intent on destroying Hilo’s home planet. (ages 8-12)

The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang: Prince Sebastian feels comfortable identifying both male and female, often wearing dresses and going out as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. When he hires Frances, a young seamstress, to make him a wardrobe of boldly beautiful, dazzling dresses, Frances hesitates at first, but they soon discover a shared passion for fashion. Incorporating the feel of classic fairytales, Wang creates a story that revolves around friendship, following your dreams and speaking your truth. (ages 10-15)

Princeless series, by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by M. Goodwin: When Princess Adrienne’s parents lock her away in a castle guarded by a dragon to await rescue by a prince, she decides to take matters into her own hands. I love this feisty heroine--we have so few stories with characters of color, where race isn’t an issue. Readers are able to enjoy classic fairy tale setting in this graphic novel, while turning so many stereotypes and tropes on their heads. (ages 8-12)

Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson: Astrid joins a roller derby boot camp the summer before middle school, making new friends and navigating this rough-and-tumble sport. My students love the way Astrid deals with friendship issues and discovers her own strength and stamina. (ages 9-13)

Secret Coders series, by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes: Hopper isn’t sure she’s going to like her new school, especially with its creepy birds and crazy janitor, but things turn around as she and her new friends use logic and computer programming to discover the school’s secrets. Kids love the way they’re drawn into figuring out logic puzzles right alongside Hopper. (ages 8-12)

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier: Raina Telgemeier’s memoirs Smile and Sisters are absolute favorites. She draws readers in with her relatable situations and humor, creating a real bond as she reflects on family relationships, friendship dramas and the pressures tweens face at school and at home. This remains one of my family's all-time favorite read alouds. (ages 8-14)

The Witch Boy, by Molly Ostertag: This graphic novel will appeal to readers with its magical setting and strong protagonist. In Aster's village, there are very clear expectations: girls will learn witchcraft and spells, while boys will learn to become shapeshifters. Yet Aster longs to learn spells and is not interested in the other boy's aggressive play. When several boys go missing, Aster tries to use his developing magical abilities to solve the mystery. I especially appreciated the way Aster questions society's gender expectations and stays true to himself. A delightful graphic novel -- I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, The Hidden Witch, which has just come out. (ages 8-12)

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©2018 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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