Graphic Novels

All kinds of stories are being told in graphic novel format, a style that mixes illustrations and text to create a unique reading experience. From adaptations of classics and modern favorites, to new work in fiction and nonfiction for all ages, graphic novels are for reluctant and avid readers alike, providing a different way to read. Reading graphic novels can benefit readers in different ways, such as creating empathy, allowing readers to read above their independent reading level, leveling the academic playing field, and building comprehension and critical reading skills. Novelist, comic book writer, and former teacher Kami Garcia goes into further detail and explains the importance of graphic novels in an article for TODAY. 

In honor of Free Comic Book Day on May 1st, we put together a list of graphic novels for you to enjoy throughout the month of May and beyond! From introductory comics for young readers to graphic novels for every age level to enjoy whether you’re new or old to the medium, as well as a short list of some graphic novels adapted from popular novels, we hope this list gives you either a new appreciation for the format or expands your already large list of graphic novels to read.

Curato, Mike
Flamer. 2020 (Teen).
It’s the summer between middle school and high school, and Aiden Navarro is nervous; he worries that he’ll just be trading one set of bullies for another. In middle school, bullies called him gay, and made fun of him for being pudgy, not being very athletic, and for being half-Filipino. Aiden was always on guard and is scared high school will just be the same. But for now, Aiden is in his happy place: scouting camp. Camp is a place where he feels like he’s good at things and is wanted. But this year, there are bullies at camp too, and it’s causing Aiden to doubt himself. Not to mention, he can’t stop thinking about his friend Elias, and it’s making things weird for Aiden – and it threatens to ruin their friendship and Aiden’s whole summer.
PZ7.7.C875 Fl 2020

Ha, Robin.
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir. 2020 (Nonfiction Teen).
It’s always been Robin and her mom against the world; growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded the two fiercely. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama unexpectantly becomes a permanent relocation and Robin’s mom announces that she’s getting married, Robin is devastated. Her life completely changes overnight: she’s dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language; she’s completely cut off from her friends at home; she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily; and she’s furious with the one person she’s closest to – her mother. Then, one day, Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, and it opens the window to a future Robin could have never imagined.
S.741.5973 H11al

Hatke, Ben.
Little Robot. 2015 (Children).
One night, a large truck trundles over a bridge, on its way to deliver robots. An unexpected bump jars open the door and out plunges a box into the river. The next day, a five-year-old girl, armed with her tool belt and wrench, runs across the robot in the woods. When she presses its button, the robot comes alive. Though the two can’t communicate with words, they quickly develop their own language and become friends. But the new friends are in danger; once the factory discovers one of the robots is missing, a big bad robot is sent out to retrieve the little robot. In this nearly wordless picture book, these two characters learn boundaries and how to deal with disagreements and acceptance and navigating a new friendship when communicating is hard. This is a great introduction to graphic novels for the littles!
S.741.5973 H286li

Jamieson, Victoria.
When Stars Are Scattered. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother’s needs make life hard at the camp. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future, but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day. Told by a Somali refugee who lived the story, this graphic novel is an intimate, important look at the day-to-day life of a refugee.
S.741.5973 J243wh

Medina, Tony
Illustrated by: Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
I Am Alfonso Jones. 2017 (Teen).
Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he’s buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun and fatally shoots Alfonso. When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
S.741.5973 M468ia

Nguyen, Trung Le
The Magic Fish. 2020 (Teen).
Fairy tales are Tiến’s way of navigating through life. But real life isn’t a fairy tale. However, Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through? What about a way to tell them he’s gay?
S.741.5973 T773ma

O’Neill, Katie.
The Tea Dragon Society. 2017 (Middle Grade).
Apprentice blacksmith Greta is leaving her mother’s forge one day when she comes across a lost little dragon. When Greta rescues the dragon and finds out who it belongs to, she sets off to return the dragon – only to get an invitation from the owner, Hesekiel, to come and learn all about the tea dragons he cares for. Greta learns how to care for the tea dragons and how to create the tea these dragons grow on their back. Along the way, Greta gets closer to Hesekiel and his husband, Erik, and makes friends with Minette, a young girl who was training to be a prophetess and is now having trouble remembering things. Together, this group of individuals caring for tea dragons becomes a society that was once dying.
Q. S.741.56993 On28te

Stevenson, Noelle.
The Fire Never Goes Out: A Memoir in Pictures. 2020 (Nonfiction Teen).
In a collection of essays and personal mini-comics that span eight years of her young adult life, author-illustrator Noelle Stevenson charts the highs and lows of being a creative human in the world. Whether it’s hearing the wrong name called at her art school graduation ceremony or becoming a National Book Award finalist for her debut graphic novel, navigating fame and recognition or struggling with mental health and identity issues, Noelle captures the little and big moments, the great and the tough, that have made up her life.
S.741.5973 St485fi

Weisner, David.
Mr. Wuffles! 2013 (Children).
A cat names Mr. Wuffles doesn’t care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He’s much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens – but the ship wasn’t designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. This completely wordless picture book is a great way to introduce children to graphic novels.
Q. SE. W637mr

Yee, Reimena
Séance Tea Party. 2020 (Middle Grade).
Lora is reaching an age where she feels her friends drifting apart, especially from her as their interests turn towards those of typical teenagers, while Lora still enjoys things she fears her friends view as childish. A lover of all things spooky, Lora holds a séance with her imaginary fairy creatures, and she summons Alexa, the ghost who haunts her house. While Lora is fearful of the future and growing up, Alexa has missed the opportunity to grow up and has watched as generations of children pass her by. Is someone who can’t grow up, who will always be around for her, exactly what Lora needs?
PZ7.7.Y44 Se 2020

Popular Adaptations

Palacio, R.J.
White Bird: A Wonder Story. 2019 (Middle Grade).
Have you read and loved Wonder? This graphic novel spin-off from the same universe follows Julian, who has an assignment at school to ask his grandmother to tell a story. Julian calls Grandmère, who tells a story of herself as a young Jewish girl hidden away by family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.
S.741.5973 P1712wh

Reynolds, Jason.
Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel. 2020 (Teen).
This graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling and award-winning novel, Long Way Down, uses a different medium to reach new and old readers alike. Fifteen-year-old Will has shoved a gun in the back waistband of his jeans. See, his brother was just murdered. And Will knows the rules: No crying. No snitching. Revenge. That’s where Will is now heading, with the gun that was his brother’s gun. Will gets on the elevator, knowing where he’s going and who he’s after. Or does he? The story takes place within the sixty seconds he’s on the elevator, where he comes across people Will knows died, people his brother was connected to — people who give Will a piece to a bigger story than the one he thinks he knows about his brother’s death.
S.741.5973 R3352lo

Russel, Craig P. and Neil Gaiman.
The Graveyard Book. 2014 (Teen).
Nobody “Bod” Owens is an orphan, taken in by residents of a graveyard after his parents are brutally murdered. Well, dead residents. Bod has been raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor the world of the dead. There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard: the strange and terrible menace of the Sleer; a gravestone entrance to a desert that leads to the city of ghouls; friendship with a witch, and much more. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks, for it is there that the man Jack lives – and he has already killed Bod’s family. This graphic novel is an adaption of the bestselling and award-winning novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, available for new and old readers alike.
S.741.5973 R916g


Nonfiction Books for Fiction Lovers

Most people who have a favorite genre of literature tend to stay within those friendly, familiar confines when choosing new books to read. From romances to murder mysteries to science fiction, the opportunities to get lost in a great novel are endless. The most popular genres, however, are often fiction, and many people don’t want to give nonfiction literature the time of day. Considered “boring” and “dry,” nonfiction books have gotten a bad rap for years. Things have certainly changed though. Nonfiction books are just as bright, colorful, and engaging as fiction now! Ranging from beautifully illustrated picture books to fast-paced novel-like biographies, nonfiction reads can delight even the most dedicated lover of fiction.

To find more entertaining nonfiction books, please search our online catalog using subject terms like “nonfiction” and “juvenile” or “biographies” and “juvenile.” We have an amazingly vast collection of engaging and informative books sure to spark your interest.

Corey, Shana.
The Secret Subway. 2016.
It’s 1860s New York City and the city that never sleeps has a problem: the streets are constantly jammed with people, buggies and animals. It’s dangerous to even try to cross Broadway Street! One brilliant inventor, Alfred Ely Beach, concocts a plan to build an underground train system that runs on air pressure — the first ever “subway.” Though his plan doesn’t come to full fruition, Beach’s “railroad of the future” delights and inspires New York citizens.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.388.42097471 C8129se]

Heiligman, Deborah.
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. 2017.
Immerse yourself in the fiercely loyal, exciting, and loving relationship the famous Van Gogh brothers shared. Based on 658 letters that Vincent wrote Theo throughout their lives, this story of brotherly love (and struggle) reads with all the gravitas of a classic dramatic novel. At over 400 pages, this book might seem overwhelming, but the fascinating lives of Theo, the art dealer, and Vincent, the famous Post-Impressionist artist, are sure to captivate readers.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.759.9492 H3636v]

Lewis, John.
March: Book One. 2013.
In the first installment of this gripping graphic novel trilogy, Congressman John Lewis recounts his childhood and the events that led to his courageous involvement in the start of the Civil Rights Movement. From a life-changing meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the creation of the Nashville Student Movement to the famous nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, this novel poignantly details the incredible strength and resilience of so many people involved in the fight for equality in America.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.741.5973 L5873m]

Orgill, Roxane.
Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph. 2016.
In 1958 when Esquire magazine decided to publish an issue that would be a “salute to American jazz,” graphic designer Art Kane concocted a plan to gather as many famous jazz musicians as he could and photograph them together in front of a Harlem brownstone. Kane didn’t have a great camera, an organized plan, or any idea if anyone would actually show up. Thanks to his tireless efforts and perhaps a bit of luck, he captured one of the most famous images of America’s “jazz greats.” Told through a collection of poems that lead to a full page, pull-out spread of Kane’s actual photograph.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.811 Or398j]

Sheinkin, Steve.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. 2014.
During World War II at a Navy base called Port Chicago in San Francisco Bay, young African American men risked their lives transporting ammunition and massive bombs to and from U.S. military ships. Every single day they worked these men lived in fear of making one wrong movement and blowing up the entire Navy base. Then one day, tragedy struck. Check out this book for a thoroughly-researched and emotionally evocative telling of one of the most crucial civil rights struggles in America’s military history.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.940.545308996 Sh42p]

Stanley, Diance.
Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: The First Computer Programmer. 2016.
Ada Byron, daughter of famous poet Lord Byron, always let her imagination take her on wonderful adventures. As a young girl, she created an instruction manual to help humans create their own wings to fly. As she got older, she continued to use her brilliance (which flourished as she received a “world-class scientific education”) to help Charles Babbage create the first ever computer program in the 1840s.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SB. L898s]

Steptoe, Javaka.
Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. 2016.
As a young child, Jean-Michel Basquiat spent most of his time admiring the beauty and the art of the world that surrounded him. The son of warm, creative parents who nurtured his inner artist, Jean-Michel spent his tragically short life doing what he loved most: creating unique paintings and art pieces that expressed who he was and how he interpreted his surroundings. Illustrations that echo Basquiat’s personal style perfectly complement this biography of an incredibly talented young man.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. B316s]

Stone, Tanya Lee.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream. 2009.
It’s 1960s America and the fight for women’s rights and gender equality doesn’t just apply to land anymore. When Randy Lovelace, a chairman at NASA, starts the Woman in Space program to prove that women are equally as capable of becoming successful astronauts as men, 13 courageous women rise to the immensely difficult social, physical, and mental challenges that are required to break the ultimate glass ceiling. Constantly faced with extreme backlash from beloved American heroes, fellow females in the field, and even the President of the United States, these women never let their spirits falter as they strive to change the world.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.629.450092 St724a]

Sweet, Melissa.
Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. 2016.
Illustrated and formatted as a colorful scrapbook, this book tells the exciting story of author Elwyn Brooks (E. B.) White’s life using copies of White’s own personal letters, pictures, and ephemera. With an idyllic childhood and supportive parents, E. B.’s creative mind flourished during his annual family trips to Belgrade Lakes, Maine where he realized he wanted to dedicate his life to writing. Follow White on his journey from being a journalist for the New Yorker to an acclaimed children’s author.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. W583sw]

Turner, Pamela S.
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune. 2016.
Learn about the utterly thrilling life of young Samurai warrior Minamoto Yoshitsune in this epic novel-like biography. As a young boy, Minamoto is separated from his family and ordered to live in a monastery. He is small, skinny, and hasn’t had any martial arts training, but Minamoto doesn’t let this hold him back from escaping the monastery, battling bitter rivals, becoming a famous war hero, and experiencing fatal love.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. M6634t]

Weatherford, Carole Boston.
Freedom in Congo Square. 2016.
Written in poetic couplets, this breathtaking picture book depicts enslaved Africans counting down the gruesome weekdays until they can congregate in New Orleans’ Congo Square on Sundays. As Sundays were the only day New Orleans slaves were allowed to take time off, many ventured to an open space called Congo Square to sing, dance, play music, sell goods, and socialize with friends.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.976.335 W3784f]

Graphic novels

Graphic novels have exploded in popularity in recent years. But what exactly is a graphic novel? The precise definition can be difficult to pinpoint. Usually, a graphic novel is published in book format and has a complete story line. Zahra Baird writes, “A successful graphic novel starts with a stellar story told with words and pictures that augment the story, providing insight that text alone cannot do.”* Graphic novels cross numerous genres and include adventure stories, science fiction, historical fiction, retellings of classic literature and biography. While graphic novels usually appeal to teenagers and middle school students, there are many books appropriate for younger children. The following is a selection of graphic novels that showcase the variety available.

* Baird, Z. M., & Jackson, T. (2007). Got Graphic Novels? More Than Just Superheroes In Tights! Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 5(1), 4-7.
Debon, Nicholas
The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr. 2007.
Louis Cyr astounded audiences throughout North America and Europe with his amazing feats and mammoth proportions. Discover the life and times of this extraordinary hero in this biography in the graphic novel format.
[Education S Collection: SB. C997d]

Eisner, Will
Fagin the Jew. 2003.
A retelling of the classic novel Oliver Twist from the perspective of the villain, Fagin.
[Undergrad: 741.5973 Ei87f]

Holm, Jennifer
Babymouse: Queen of the World. 2005.
An imaginative mouse dreams of being queen of the world, but will settle for an invitation to the most popular girl’s slumber party. Appropriate for younger children.
[Center for Children’s Books: S. H73b]

Masters, Anthony
Horror of the Heights. 2006.
Dean Lambert suffers from a fear of heights–a big deal if your brother is a diving champion and your father runs the Wave Crest Health Club. Someone is out to sabotage the diving board that Dean fears. He needs to expose the saboteur for everyone’s sake.
[Education S Collection: S. M393h]

Medley, Linda
Castle Waiting. 2006.
A collection of tales tell the story of an abandoned castle and the humorous fairy tale characters living there.
[Undergrad: 741.59 M469c]

McLeod, Bob
SuperHero ABC. 2006.
Humorous SuperHeroes such as Goo Girl and The Volcano represent the letters of the alphabet from A to Z. For younger children.
[Education S Collection: Q. SE. M225s]

O’Brien, Anne Sibley.
Legend of Hong Kil Dong. 2006.
Graphic novel treatment of the life and career Hong Kil Dong, the Korean equivalent of Robin Hood.
[Education S Collection: Q.S.741.5 Ob62l]

Pilkey, Dave
The Adventures of Captain Underpants: an Epic Novel. 1997.
When George and Harold hypnotize their principal into thinking that he is the superhero Captain Underpants, he leads them to the lair of the nefarious Dr. Diaper, where they must defeat his evil robot henchmen. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: S.P644a]

Schwarz, Viviane
Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure. 2006.
Follows the humorous attempts of Shark and Lobster to conquer their fear of tigers. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: S.741.5 Sch966s]

Sfar, Joann
Little Vampire Goes to School. 2003.
A lonely little vampire, yearning for a friend, gets permission from the other monsters to go to school and makes the acquaintance of a boy who does not believe that vampires are real. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: Q. S. Sf16l]

Shanower, Eric
Age of Bronze: a Thousand Ships. 2001.
The first part in a projected series about the Trojan War.
[Undergrad: 741.5973Sh198a]

Siegel, Siena Cherson (artwork by Mark Siegel)
To Dance: a Memoir. 2006.
The author describes how she first decided she wanted to be a ballerina at the age of six, and how that dream carried her from her home in Puerto Rico to dance class in Boston to performing with the New York City Ballet. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: SB. S571s]

Smith, Jeff.
Bone. 2005.
The adventure starts when cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of Boneville and later get separated and lost in the wilderness, meeting monsters and making friends as they attempt to return home. (Description from NoveList.)
[Education S Collection: S.741.5973 Sm613bo]

Spiegelman, Art and Mouly, Francoise (editors)
Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids. 2001.
A collection of bizarre stories, comics, and features depicting a fantastical world where nothing is what it seems offers contributions from such authors as Maurice Sendak, David Sedaris, Posy Simmonds, Ian Falconer, and Kim Deitch. (Description from NoveList.)
[Education Storage: Q.S.741.5973 L721]

Stamaty, Mark Alan
Too Many Time Machines: Or, the Incredible Story of How I Went Back In Time, Met Babe Ruth, and Discovered the Secret of Home Run Hitting. 1999.
Roger uses his time machine to visit Babe Ruth and learn some of the secrets of The Babe’s success, enabling Roger’s team to win the championship.
[Education Storage: S.St21t]

Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics From an Unpleasant Age. 2007.
The hardships, dramas, and joys of seventh and eighth grade are presented in a collection of tales, illustrated by an array of graphic novelists, including Daniel Clowes and Ariel Schrag.(Description from NoveList.)
[Education S Collection: Q. S.741.5St937s]

Tan, Shaun.
The Arrival. 2007.
In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.
[Education S Collection: Q. S.741.595 T153a]

Varon, Sara
Robot Dreams. 2007.
The enduring friendship between a dog and a robot is portrayed in this wordless graphic novel.
[Center for Children’s Books: S.741.59 V434r]

Further resources for choosing and using graphic novels:

Weiner, Stephen
The 101 Best Graphic Novels. 2005.
[Undergrad: 016.74159 W431o2005]

Miller, Steve
Developing and Promoting Graphic Novel Collections. 2005.
[Library and Information Science Library: 025.289 M618d]

Lyga, Allyson A.W.
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center. 2004.
[Education Curriculum Collection: CURR.025.56LIBUN2004]