Graphic novels are more popular than ever. Overall sales increased by more than 11% in 2018 according to Publishers Weekly, and that increase was driven largely by a big jump in the sale of juvenile graphic novels, which saw a massive 56.2% increase last year. It's no wonder they're so popular with the younger set. Graphic novels are generally fast paced, and perhaps more importantly, they tend to be more engaging than other "early reader" books. And with so many new titles, there's sure to be something that appeals to every child's interest.
They're often cited as great for "reluctant readers" or children who just haven't found a book that excites them. But if you're still thinking about graphic novels as less valuable for learning than traditional prose, you should know that they often contain higher level vocabulary words than print-only books for readers in the same age range, and they can also positively impact children’s visual literacy skills, which are more essential than ever in the digital age.
If you're looking for graphic novel titles to interest the tween in your life, try this "best of the best" list for kids in grades 6-8 developed by librarians at the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). You can find similar lists for grades K-2 and grades 3-5 on their website.
Check out these titles at your local library and talk to your librarian to find more great graphic novels.
Great Graphic Novels for Grades 6-8
Allʼs Faire in Middle School
by Victoria Jamieson. DIAL BOOKS, 2017
A girl starting middle school after being homeschooled by her Renaissance fair parents learns that being herself comes with challenges.
by Hope Larson. FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX, 2018
This coming-of-age story follows 13-year-old Bina as she navigates her first summer without her best friend, Austin, by her side.
Anne Frankʼs Diary:The Graphic Adaptation
by Anne Frank, adapted by Ari Folman, and illustrated by David Polonsky. PANTHEON, 2018
In this edition authorized by the Anne Frank Foundation, Polonsky’s evocative illustrations support and enhance Anne’s powerful story for a new generation.
by Svetlana Chmakova. YEN PRESS, 2015
Peppi Torres is just trying to survive middle school, but an awkward encounter on the first day and a heated art-club-versus-science-club rivalry make her reconsider her rules.
(FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES)
Baba Yagaʼs Assistant
by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll. CANDLEWICK, 2015
Masha relies on her grandmotherʼs stories to help her complete a series of tasks for Baba Yaga.
by Vera Brosgol. FIRST SECOND, 2018
Jealous of her friendsʼ experiences at summer camp, Vera begs her mother to let her go, too.
Child Soldier: When Boys and Girls Are Used in War
by Jessica Day Humphreys and Michel Chikwanine, illustrated by Claudia Dávila. KIDS CAN PRESS, 2015. ISBN: 9781771381260
The autobiography of Michel Chikwanine explores his familyʼs life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, his time as a child soldier, his fatherʼs activism, and Chikwanineʼs eventual emigration.
The Dumbest Idea Ever!
by Jimmy Gownley. GRAPHIX, 2014.
This graphic memoir recalls a time when Gownley, bedridden by chicken pox and pneumonia, overcame these and other preadolescent challenges by rediscovering his love of writing and drawing comics.
by Ethan M. Aldridge. HARPERCOLLINS, 2018.
Neither the changeling from the land below nor the “human childe” has felt as though they fit in after having been switched at birth. When they come together to defeat an evil sorceress, they discover that sometimes family is less about whom you were born to and more about whom you choose.
by Sam Bosma NOBROW PRESS, 2015.
A magical heroine and former mentor must defeat a mummy in a game of basketball to win a treasure.
(FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES)
Friends with Boys
by Faith Erin Hicks FIRST SECOND, 2012.
A young homeschooler transitions to high school, along with the mystery of the ghost who has followed her most of her life.
Gaijin: American Prisoner of War
by Matt Faulkner. DISNEY-HYPERION, 2014.
Biracial American Koji Miyamoto struggles to stay true to himself during his time as an American prisoner of war in an internment camp during WWII.
Grand Theft Horse
by G. Neri, illustrated by Corban Wilkin. LEE & LOW, 2018.
A rookie horse-trainer challenges the norms of the horse-racing world and refuses to drug her extraordinary horse, standing up for the humane treatment of animals.
The Graveyard Book, Volume 1
based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell. HARPERCOLLINS, 2014.
This graphic adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning novel tells the first half of the story about Nobody Owens, who is raised in a graveyard by ghosts after his parents are murdered.
by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault GROUNDWOOD BOOKS, 2013.
Hélène delves deep into the world of Jane Eyre to escape the cruelty of her everyday life at school, until she meets a friend in an unlikely location.
by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault GROUNDWOOD BOOKS, 2017.
In this coming-of-age story, Louis and his brother spend a few summer weeks with their alcoholic father, taking comfort in each other and their shared wish for a simpler family life.
Lumberjanes, Volume 8: Stone Cold
by Shannon Watters and Kat Leyh, illustrated by Carey Pietsch. SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2018.
Surprised to find their fellow campers have been turned to stone, five best friends at summer camp team up to defeat the strange forces lurking within the surrounding forest.
(PART OF A SERIES)
by Kristen Gudsnuk. GRAPHIX, 2018
An inherited magic notebook might be just the thing Danny needs to improve her disappointing seventh-grade experience.
Ms. Marvel: No Normal
by G. Willow Wilson, illustrated by Adrian Alphona MARVEL, 2014
Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City who stumbles upon superpowers and becomes the next Ms. Marvel! Is she ready to handle these huge powers while also staying true to her family, culture, and dreams?
(FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES)
by Jerry Craft. HARPERCOLLINS, 2019
Seventh-grader Jordan Banks struggles to fit in at his new upscale private school in Riverdale, New York, where he is one of the few kids of color in his grade.
by Noelle Stevenson. HARPERTEEN, 2015
Sassy shape-shifter Nimona is a sidekick to Lord Ballister Blackheart, a not-so-evil genius. Together they battle Blackheart’s nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, the champion of the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics.
The Other Side of the Wall
by Simon Schwartz. GRAPHIC UNIVERSE, 2015
Schwartz’s graphic memoir recounts his family’s life in communist East Berlin, their escape to the West, and his childhood growing up in West Berlin.
by Nidhi Chanani. FIRST SECOND, 2017
Priyanka Das discovers a magical pashmina that connects her to her motherʼs past and India.
Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas
by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks. FIRST SECOND, 2015
The stories of three scientists and their groundbreaking work in the field with chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.
The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang. FIRST SECOND, 2018
Prince Sebastianʼs parents want him to pick a bride, but no one knows about Sebastianʼs deepest secret, until he befriends Frances, a dressmaker, who helps him find the courage to become Lady Crystallia.
Princess Decomposia and Count Spatula
by Andi Watson. FIRST SECOND, 2015
The overwhelmed princess of the underworld hires a vampire chef who becomes a close friend in this sweetly gothic, mildly spooky tale.
Princeless, Volume 1: Save Yourself
by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by M. Goodwin. ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT, 2014
Princess Adrienne rejects the stereotypes of being a princess, especially when her parents lock her away in a tower to be rescued by a handsome prince.
(FIRST BOOK IN THE SERIES)
by Yehudi Mercado. ONI PRESS, 2018
Hip-hop-loving, kung fu– obsessed Wax and company are unwittingly transported from Brooklyn to a funky alien planet. Wax must use his deejay skills to save the day and, oh yeah, impress his crush.
by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland FIRST SECOND, 2017
Addison and her sister, Lexa, have been on their own since something strange destroyed their city and killed their parents, and now selling photos of the odd happenings is the only way to survive— but will it also be what destroys Addison?
Swing It, Sunny
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm GRAPHIX, 2017
In the sequel to Sunny Side Up, Sunny faces new challenges in middle
school—missing her brother and struggling with changes everywhere. Sunnyʼs positive attitude and a good friend will see her through, because sheʼs determined to stay on top.
Trickster:Native American Tales A Graphic Collection
edited by Matt Dembicki. FULCRUM, 2010
This collaborative effort by more than forty writers and artists presents more than twenty Native American trickster tales in graphic novel format.