Need a good rationale for recommending graphic novels to teens? How about this: Teens who read graphic novels read more books for pleasure, and become more committed readers. (For more support on the research, check this out: Making the Case for Graphic Novels )
Kids are attracted to the visuals, yes–and also the themes and range of topics. Not only are they are great resource for reluctant readers, but they are very popular with highly motivated teens and creative kids , too. If you haven’t dug into the great new graphic novels, you’re in for a treat. The high quality ones are like good picture books for all ages, a creative and artistic interplay between words and pictures to tell a a story. Recommend the following to teens you know–and enjoy them yourself!
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G.Neri and Randy DuBurke
This true story is fittingly retold as a graphic novel from the honest and insightful point of view of a fictional neighbor of
Yummy. It’s a gritty and truthful investigation of the life–and death–of an 11-year-old gang member whose involvement in a gang shooting accidentally kills a neighborhood girl. The book asks hard questions about Yummy, the social network that let him down, the gang violence, and the tragic community consequences. The black-and-white graphics are both beautiful and fittingly paired with the well-told tale. It’s a riveting and emotional book that we can’t recommend highly enough.
Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon
This compelling and definitive biography is a wonderful companion to Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl. Told as a story that spans her parents’ youth, through the war and ultimate publication of Anne’s diary, readers see the context of Anne Frank’s experiences in hiding as well as those of her family, friends, and community. The authors don’t spare us the details of her life in the concentration camps Auschwitz and Bergen-Belson. The illustrations are amazing, copied from archival photos and rich in detail. Fitting for teens, this book is really for all ages.
Foiled by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
Many of the contemporary–and popular– urban fantasy graphic novels have boiler plate plots and so-so graphics. Not so Foiled by award-winning author Jane Yolen. The title is a play on words; the heroine is a teen competitive fencer. The story begins grounded in the reality: sports practice (in this case fencing), role-playing, homework, science labs. And it’s there that the story begins to take a twist into fantasy, when the “cute boy” who is her lab partner becomes her love interest. . .or is he really more interested in her magical new ruby-handled foil? Aliera is a feisty and compelling heroine. Warning: this is the start of a series, so don’t expect all the loose ends to tie together at the end of this book. You’ll want to read the continuing saga in Curses! Foiled Again.
Kampung Boy by Lat
In 1950’s rural Malaysia, village life is changing and the traditional ways of his community–the kampung–is shifting for Mat. In stead of the farming his family and neighbors have traditionally relied on, Mat’s life on his family’s rubber plantation is shifting as tin mines and factory work expands. But life is not all hardship in this affectionate and often laugh-out-loud funny story of Lat’s adventures. Along the way, readers learn about many Muslim rituals and customs of South Eastern Asia from mid-20th century. The illustrations are simple, but compelling and there is a real element of charm in them. A great addition to your library, for all ages.
Zebra Fish by Sharon Emerson by Fabervision and Peter H. Reynolds
Zebra Fish is a mutli-media extravaganza of a graphic novel, showing the potential and possibilities of the art form. The storyline is fun, interesting, and at times, even inspirational. What happens when Vita, a lonely girl living with her older brother (who happens to be a cancer researcher) decides to make friends by starting a garage band? There is the problem that she doesn’t play an instrument, of course. . .Lots of interesting and diverse characters, and a touching storyline and complex storyline that grabs teens and tweens–and their parents.
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge
Teen-aged Paige makes sense of her life through drawing in her sketchbook–which becomes the graphic novel we as readers to be share. It’s wonderful to be able to eavesdrop on Paige’s new “secret identity” as an artists as she tries it on. Her sketchbook becomes a tool for her as she adjusts to her new life in New York City. Very creative artwork–both elegant and detailed. They perfectly match the mood and emotions of the text. A hit with girls and boys alike.