One of the biggest booming industries in the middle grade genre at the moment is that of the graphic novel. Now of course, comic books have always been a beloved pastime of the young nerd in training but the cultural ideas around comics and graphic novels has been shifting and with that has come a whole new genre of books available to kids both avid readers and those who require something a little easier.
My younger brother was never a big reader like most of the women in my family (I still believe part of that has something to do with cultural gender norms) but most of it had to do with his struggle to read and his preference to other ways of passing the time. I was a kid who would read for hours with no issue, or play video games, or all manners of arts and crafts. He was a bit more focused in the things he liked to do and was adamant against any other suggestions.
However, he did follow my love of super heroes and so comics were a good way to get him reading when he wouldn’t be interested in a regular book. Now I don’t think that kids should read graphic novels alone, but getting them to read a story is a win in my book and here are some action packed adventure suggestions for anyone who should want them.
For anyone who has never seen one of my recommendation posts, clicking the cover photo will open the goodreads page for that book so you can read more.
I have a full review of this guy on the blog already if you missed it but the tl;dr version of it is: This is a great action story set in a steam punk world where most folks live on giant flying ships separated from those on the ground by giant dangerous storm clouds. Our rambunctious female protagonist is more than ready to come of age to inherit her father’s ship as she has been a constant troublemaker on the ship, unable to really find her own niche. The world is rich and varied, the characters are incredible bright and well fleshed out both visually and through their characterization. This might be worth the look for any young girls (or boys) who are interested in mechanical engineering or robotics.
Now I can’t completely vouch for the graphic version of this book because it is an adaptation of a Newbery Award winning book by the same title. The reason I am throwing it in here as an option is to show how there are graphic novel versions of a lot of really well written and complex stories. For kids who have a hard time parsing through language the graphic version may be a good option for them (even classic children’s books like A Wrinkle in Time have graphic versions) This story is an adorable one about a child who lives in a graveyard and raised by the spirits who reside there. Neil Gaiman is a master of fantastic fiction for both children and adults and will appeal to folks who enjoy a little bit of creepiness in their books as well as a lot of heart and humor. Worth the read for adults as well in my opinion.
This one is great for slightly older kids (7th grade and older) It discusses what it is like to go through puberty, to begin to feel a bit out of place in your school and your family, and what it is like to be an outcast. Anya needs a new friend, she just didn’t realize that she would find one … at the bottom of a well. This is a cute little story and the art is simplistic for kids who don’t care about the massive color spreads. It is an original graphic novel (created to be a graphic novel specifically) and is also highly recommended for adults in my opinion. It captures the feeling of young children (especially girls) very well. The younger kids may not fully relate with Anya and most of the beauty in this one comes through how relateable of a story it is.
Doug TenNapel has several graphic novels made for kids and I would recommend all of them. I was a kid who loved interesting weird stories (maybe a little scary) so I was most drawn to Ghostopolis. A young boy is accidentally transported to the realm of the undead and this is the story of his misadventures attempting to leave … while also fighting the evil ruler of Ghostopolis. It also has a really cute story involving the ghost of the protagonists grandfather and I really appreciated the way that generations and familial ties are used in this story and it would definitely be loved by an child who is worried about the afterlife or how their family members who have passed away are after death. (Even if their city is ruled by an evil dictator)
This may be the most well known title on this list but I figured I would throw it out there for anyone who hasn’t stepped into the world of middle grade graphic novels. This was the series that my brother loved and really got him interested into the genre. This is a more traditional fantasy story about some kids who are on a quest to save their mother from the demons who lured her into a mysterious world on the other side of an out of place door in their basement. It calls upon so many stories of children falling into fantastic worlds, as well as the idea that they are gaining self sufficiency from their parents while still needing them. It has great monsters, interesting allies, and is all around fun to read. This is a must read in the genre, if you aren’t at all interested, I would still highly recommend getting it as an example of everything graphic novels can do.
I want to make this into a series where I discuss different subgenres within the graphic novel arch. There are great graphic novels on many different subjects and while I am limited to those that have piqued my interest any good bookseller can show you the best way to find graphic novels for kids. If you have more specific questions about the books that I discussed here or want to hear my thoughts on a different title please let me know down below and I will do my best to compensate you.