Published on July 29th, 2015 | by Carli Spina

Comics for Young Readers

Comics are popular among teen and adult readers, but there are also great options aimed specifically at middle grade and tween readers. If you want to start your younger patrons on the path to comics fandom, you can’t go wrong adding these books to your collection.

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a memoir about her life growing up with hearing loss. This fabulous book has won an array of awards, including the Eisner Award for Best Publication For Kids and the Schneider Family Book Award, and this is no surprise. Bell has created an amazing story about hearing loss, but also about friendship and growing up while feeling awkward or different from your peers. The full-color book that presents Bell and her friends as bunnies will appeal to readers of all ages, but is perfect for young comic fans.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson is another fun story about friendship, this time set in the world of roller derby. Astrid faces not only her first attempt at skating but also her first time striking off on her own without her friend Nicole. Questions of whether she will become a successful roller derby player and whether her friendship with Nicole will survive will keep readers turning the pages until the very end. The vivid artwork adds a great dimension to the story and is perfect for fans of full=color graphic novels.

Raina Telgemeier has written a number of hugely popular books for young readers from the graphic novel adaptation of The Babysitter’s Club series to this year’s Eisner Award winning Sisters. Drama is one of her perennially popular graphic novels that is perfect for fans of theater and those who want a relatable tale of middle school years.

Fantasy and sports fans alike will love the Foiled series by Jane Yolen and Mike Cavallaro. The protagonist of the books is Aliera, a middle schooler who is a competitive fencer. One day she discovers that there is a fantastical world existing alongside her own. As the only one who can see these fantastical creatures, she discovers her destiny as the defender of Helfdon, the fantastical world she has only just discovered.

Lumberjanes has been hugely popular with readers of all ages, but with its cast of characters who are friends at a summer camp, it will be particularly appealing to middle grade readers. This book has a little bit of everything, including diversity, yetis, friendship, and creative catchphrases. It is sure to be popular with your teen and adult patrons, but is also a great option to recommend to younger readers. A movie version of the series is already in the works, so you’ll want to have this one ready for the onslaught of popularity!

One of my personal favorites, Jane, the Fox, & Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, is another great option for middle schoolers, particularly those who read beyond their age. The story centers around Hélène, a girl who is struggling with bullying at school. She retreats into Jane Eyre and away from the other children at school until a class camping trip changes her entire outlook. This book makes beautiful use of both color and style to convey deeper meaning and reveal Hélène’s emotions and make this a gorgeous book.

Another great option for younger readers is the Hereville books by Barry Deutsch. This series follows Mirka Herschberg, a young girl from an Orthodox Jewish community, on her adventures. Though this is a fantasy series first and foremost, Deutsch mixes in important themes about family and actual cultural traditions that will appeal to young readers.

Over the next several months some great sounding new options for young readers will be joining these on the shelves. At the end of August Craig Thompson, best known for writing the acclaimed Blankets, is releasing his first book for young readers, Space Dumplins, which follows Violet and her two friends Zacchaeus and Elliot as they try to rescue Violet’s father. Along the way, they will encounter a crazy cast of characters that populate this unusual universe. The humor will appeal to young readers as will Thompson’s colorful drawings. This is a good book for young science fiction fans and a nice introduction to graphic novels for young readers.

Gene Luen Yang, another critically acclaimed author, also has his first book specifically aimed at younger teens coming out this fall titled Secret Coders. This ambitious graphic novel combines Yang’s story telling style with logic puzzles and basic programming concepts in a book that attempts to be educational and entertaining at the same time.

The brother and sister team behind Babymouse, Jennifer and Matthew Holm, are releasing a new middle grade graphic novel in August. Called Sunny Side Up, this book incorporates elements of the authors’ lives to create a powerful story about family and the way that reading, and specifically comic books, can help readers through a difficult time.

These are just a few examples of great graphic novels for middle grade and tween readers. They are sure to appeal to fans of a wide range of genres and get a whole new generation of readers to love graphic novels.

About the Author

Carli Spina is an emerging technologies and research librarian at an academic library. She is a big fan of graphic novels, young adult and children's literature, and popular culture and writes about these topics for several blogs including the Horn Book's Lolly's Classroom blog and YALSA's The Hub blog. You can find her on Twitter as @CarliSpina or on her website at

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