If your teens or tweens aren’t familiar with graphic novels, now would be a great time to introduce them to the format. New year, new tbr lists full of books that challenge and inspire and allow us to dip outside the usual pool of literary genres and textual styles! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the graphic novel is only for young readers or authentic fans of the Wimpy Kid. Combining illustrations with text, graphic novels are often longer than comics and explore serious themes that appeal to more mature readers, including adults. So check out some of these titles and consider adding them to your 2016 teen/tween tbr pile!
By A. Noelle
1. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki (Ages 12 – 18)
It’s summer, and like every summer, Rose and her parents travel to a special lake house in Awago Beach. Once there, Rose meets up with her long-time friend Windy. Like sisters, the two girls attempt to escape from the recent drama that has sparked between Rose’s mom and dad. With the parents deeply embroiled in their own arguments, Rose and Windy find themselves caught up in a life-threatening situation involving one of the older teens in the neighborhood. It’s a good thing these two girls have each other.
2. In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang (Ages 12 – 18)
Anda loves the multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online. While playing the game every chance she gets, Anda becomes a leader and makes friends with people from all over the world. Then Anda meets Raymond, a poor Chinese teen who works as a gold farmer and uses his game avatar to illegally collect valuable items to sell. This behavior is strictly against the rules of the game, but as Anda comes to learn about the realities of Raymond’s everyday struggle, she begins to realize that questions of right and wrong are not as straightforward as she had originally believed.
3. Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (Ages 12 – 17)
Anya is embarrassed by her family, self-conscious about her body, and doesn’t fit in at school. So taking a tumble into an old well and finding a “new friend” who’s been dead for a century is just icing on the cake. Sure, Anya’s been needing a friend lately, but could this ghost really be just what she needs?
4. El Deafo by Cece Bell (Ages 8 – 12)
Trying to make friends at school is hard as it is, but try doing so while wearing a bulky, awkward hearing aid strapped to your chest! The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes more than she should—after she loses her hearing from spinal meningitis. Her hearing aid is a powerful tool, but it isolates Cece from the rest of her classmates and makes it difficult for her to fit in and make friends. Eventually, she finds the inner strength to overcome and claim the superpower of the Phonic Ear, transforming into El Deafo, Listener for All!
5. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Ages 9 – 12)
Astrid and her best friend Nicole have been inseparable for much of the past twelve years. Then Astrid discovers roller derby, signs up for summer derby camp, and the besties part ways at the start of the most stressful summer of Astrid’s life. Daunted by the advanced level of the older girls at camp and struggling to hold on to her friendship with Nicole, Astrid has no shortage of difficulties but is nevertheless determined to become a Roller Girl. With Astrid’s first roller derby bout approaching at the end of summer, she realizes that she is strong enough to take on the challenge, deal with a friendship breakup, and begin her days as a junior high Roller Girl.