12 New Graphic Novels to Keep Kids Reading All Summer

Posted by Cybil on July 13, 2018
kids summer reading picks

This post is sponsored by Graphix

Graphic novels are the perfect way to keep your kids glued to their books all summer long. And, just in case your young readers have already burned through their all-time favorites, we've rounded up some new releases for readers between the ages (roughly) of nine to 12.

Kids' graphic novels have come along way since today's parents were children, says Tina Lerno, chair of the YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens committee.

"The most common thing I hear from parents is, 'It’s not a real book.' It is a real book. They’re thinking of the old comic books from their childhood and not these novels. These books are meaningful. Kids will get a life lesson, and they'll finish the book."

These very popular kids' books span genres, from science fiction, to nonfiction, and even semi-autobiographical works.

"They’re not picture books or children’s literature, they are true middle grade," says Lerno. "And reluctant readers—often boys fall into this category—don’t always find something appealing, and graphic novels fill that gap. These books aren't babyish, they're interesting."

Her advice on how to keep kids reading during the summer? "Give them stuff they like!" she says.
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What middle grade books do you recommend for young readers this summer? Let us know in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
Careful or You’ll End Up in My Novel: The Romance Novelist at Work
Jennie Shaw Really Nails Her Book Reviews
Sugar, Spice, and Ruthlessness: What Unconventional YA Heroines Are Made Of

Comments Showing 1-24 of 24 (24 new)

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message 2: by MundiNova (new)

MundiNova Though not specifically targeted to middle grade readers, I believe Lumberjanes belongs on this list.

Friendship to the max!


message 3: by Brandy (new)

Brandy Shark I'm a librarian and I get weary eyes from parents when I suggest graphic novels for their child's summer reading needs. They don't seem to understand how well a graphic novel will engage and encourage reluctant readers, as well as readers who maybe need a boost on their reading level.


message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen Brandy wrote: "I'm a librarian and I get weary eyes from parents when I suggest graphic novels for their child's summer reading needs. They don't seem to understand how well a graphic novel will engage and encour..."

I absolutely agree with you! I know I got turned on to reading when I was a kid from a combination of reading comic books and my mother always saying "go find something to read!" Hang in there!


message 5: by Sandy (new)

Sandy There are so many great graphic novels out there for any age group. For children that say they don’t like reading, I stick a graphic novel in their hands and surprisingly, most of the time they’ll read it. I love that these graphic novels cover a variety of topics now compared to when I was growing up.


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily Estranged by Ethan M. Aldridge will be released in August and is a brilliant middle-grade fantasy adventure drawn in beautiful watercolours. It's about two changeling boys and their sister adventuring in the faery world.

El Deafo by Cece Bell is a semi-autobiographical graphic novel about the author's struggles and adventures as a deaf child in a mainstream school.

The Wormworld Saga (also a webcomic) by Daniel Lieske is a gorgeous series about a boy who steps into a magical world in danger.

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks is a fun adventure story about two friends in a city with two many names trying to stop a murder plot.


message 7: by Claire (new)

Claire Wonderer wrote: "And let's tally the discrimination thus far against males by the writers of this blog:

Latest topics:
Careful or You’ll End Up in My Novel: The Romance Novelist at Work
Jennie Shaw Really Nails He..."


I think it's more a case of you're not being particularly open minded. Romance and young heroines can appeal to male readers just as much as female, and the painted fingernails blog was just illustrating how original and artistic Jennie was being.

I certainly don't think there's a vendetta against men here. Maybe you're just reading too much into these blogs...


message 8: by Michelle (last edited Jul 13, 2018 09:45PM) (new)

Michelle Wonderer wrote: "Claire wrote: "I think it's more a case of you're not being particularly open minded. Romance and young heroines can appeal to male readers just as much as female, and the painted fingernails blog ..."

Wonderer, I’m assuming you’re an older male and as such, were brought up in the generation when boys were only allowed to look up to male characters. My 12-year-old nephew and his friends are part of a new generation that don’t see females as “lesser” and will certainly pick up books with female protagonists and often pick female skins for video games. They think super heroes of all genders are cool and can agree when a particular female hero is exceptionally awesome. This is a new era; one in which gender roles aren’t so clearly defined, and thank goodness for that! So while you may think this list isn’t “for boys” enough because it doesn’t have “enough” male protagonists, I ask you what’s wrong with a female lead? And since comics have historically been “for males” I’m glad I’m seeing more of a variety in reading material and that kids now can find books about characters with many different backgrounds. More variety is good! And I’m certainly not hearing complaints from my nephew’s generation, the protesting is usually only coming from adults. :)


message 9: by Claire (new)

Claire Wonderer wrote: "Claire wrote: "I think it's more a case of you're not being particularly open minded. Romance and young heroines can appeal to male readers just as much as female, and the painted fingernails blog ..."

Female privilege? I'm not a gun-toting women's rights activist, you know. I just disagree that there's discrimination in the recent blog posts.

Do you really not read novels based on the fact that the protagonist is a young female? You've never given the Hunger Games a chance? Or His Dark Materials? What about The Handmaid's Tale or The Book Thief?

You're missing a real treat.


message 10: by Holly (last edited Jul 14, 2018 05:14AM) (new)

Holly I'm just here looking for a fun new book for my daughter, but the discussion fascinates me.

One thing I don't understand is why so many adult readers are scolded for not including YA in their reading. I didn't care for the YA genre when I was in that age group. I made a brief stop there in my drift from junior fiction to adult; for the most part the themes didn't appeal to me. It's fine if adults want to read YA, but please don't expect all of us to do so.

After all; some of us live with young adults and we really need an escape!


message 11: by Joe (new)

Joe Santoro It's great to see this nice diversity of comic book titles, but a little sad to see that the genre that most people jump to immediately when they think of comics, super heroes, completely missing.

While it's true many such titles are targeted at the old demographic these days, there's plenty out there that are great summer reads for middle readers... I'd especially recommend Ms. Marvel and Champions from Marvel, and Super Sons from DC.

DC also has a ton of new stuff coming targeted specifically at young girls, such as the Superhero girls line.

Then, of course, if you want to go 'old school' the comics of the 60s are now readily availble in nice collections, and of course were written FOR kids at that time. Some can be a bit dated, but if the movie industry is any indication, there's no reason taht they can't be well loved by todays kids as well!

It's great to give little known titles and writers exposure, but don't ignore the rest!

Also, I'd like to agree with a previous poster that the Nameless City by Erin Faith Hicks is amazing.. as is the 2nd part of the story, The Stone Heart.

Anoher great title that fits the vibe of this list is the Amelia Cole series by Adam Knave and DJ Kirkbride. The first volume is 'Amelia Cole and the Unknown World'. the series finished about a year ago, so you can actually read the complete thing from beginning to end and have a conclusion!


message 12: by Freddie (new)

Freddie Marshall I completely agree with that idea, since I love being a geek, and I love novelsand comics, if that is okay for a geek to enjoy.


message 13: by AGMaynard (new)

AGMaynard Dragonbreath series, by Ursula Vernon (these and subsequent not labeled strictly graphic but are its close cousin, graphic heavy, light text)
Sunny side up, also by Jennifer Holm (mentioned above)
My Life as...series by Janet Tashjian
Stick Dog and Stick Cat series by Tom Watson
Frazzled, Booki Vivat
Timmy Failure series, Stephen Pastis
Yes, I work in a public library and these are all very popular


message 14: by Michelle (last edited Jul 14, 2018 03:13PM) (new)

Michelle Holly wrote: "I'm just here looking for a fun new book for my daughter, but the discussion fascinates me.

One thing I don't understand is why so many adult readers are scolded for not including YA in their reading. I didn't care for the YA genre when I was in that age group. I made a brief stop there in my drift from junior fiction to adult; for the most part the themes didn't appeal to me. It's fine if adults want to read YA, but please don't expect all of us to do so.

After all; some of us live with young adults and we really need an escape! "


I didn't like books for teens when I was a teen, but the selection back then was pretty much Sweet Valley High. :)

I read a fair amount of it now though, because I like stories about the search for identity, and more inclusiveness in terms of races, religions, and LGBTQ issues. The writing is often rawer and more passionate than seen in, say, literary fiction. I also read literary fiction, but...

I don't think readers HAVE to read YA, by any means, but there is a lot of good stuff to be found.


message 15: by Mariangel (new)

Mariangel Excellent comic books, I grew up with them and now my son devours them:

For elementary school kids: Smurfs, Pussycat, by Peyo.

For elementary/middle: Johann and Peewit, Benny Breakiron, by Peyo. Little Lulu. Also, the new editions of duck tales by Carl Barks and Don Rosa.

For middle school: Tintin (by Herge), Yoko Tsuno (this is French, despite the name, adventures like Tintin but also some sci-fi)

For history lovers: The life and times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa. A wonderful saga completely worth its Eisner prize.


message 16: by Jai (new)

Jai M {The Crazy Cat Lady} AGMaynard wrote: "Dragonbreath series, by Ursula Vernon (these and subsequent not labeled strictly graphic but are its close cousin, graphic heavy, light text)
Sunny side up, also by Jennifer Holm (mentioned above)
..."


Thank You, so much for the recommendations!!
Haven't got past Ursula Vernon yet ☺️
I'm getting 'Dragon Breath #1' for the 6yr old, 'Castle HangNail' for the 8yr old (both B'days in Aug), and 'Best of Apex Magazine : Volume 1' for me 🙃😜


message 17: by Karene (last edited Jul 15, 2018 07:48AM) (new)

Karene <

Wonderer wrote: "And let's tally the discrimination thus far against males by the writers of this blog:

Latest topics:
Careful or You’ll End Up in My Novel: The Romance Novelist at Work
Jennie Shaw Really Nails He..."

Actually, these three are just the titles recommended at the end of this blog entry. Wonderer, if you go to the blog itself you will see a variety of topics that are not geared towards any gender in particular


message 18: by Iset (new)

Iset There's nothing preventing men from enjoying female heroines or romance novels. So the romance genre is currently 80% female readers - are you going to let that figure shut you out? Who cares about the stats; just read whatever you want.

If there was a blog post about secret agent action novels should we deem that anti-female? Is a beard grooming blog anti-female? Of course not - just because the audience is gender skewed doesn't mean it's having a go at the other gender.


message 19: by Ana (new)

Ana Michelle wrote: "Holly wrote: "I'm just here looking for a fun new book for my daughter, but the discussion fascinates me.

One thing I don't understand is why so many adult readers are scolded for not including YA..."


Michelle wrote: "Holly wrote: "I'm just here looking for a fun new book for my daughter, but the discussion fascinates me.

One thing I don't understand is why so many adult readers are scolded for not including YA..."


Well put Michelle, (self-confessed Sweet Valley High Fan!) I didn't know of a lot of well promoted YA novels when I was young though they were about, like Margaret Mahy's Tricksters anything by Lois Duncan and The Princess Bride. I love reading a wide range of genres, but frequently find myself turning to YA novels, I tell myself it is to recommend them to my students but genuinely enjoy them myself for a variety of reasons that Michelle touched upon, but also pragmatically because they are accessible and enjoyable during a busy term.
And now they touch on such topical issues and have so many sub-genres.
One of Us is Lying by Karen M McManus, - Thriller, murder-mystery
Speak the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll - Drama dealing with the issues of trauma
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas - Drama about a police shooting
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander - a poetry, prose novel about a teenage basketball player
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - Drama about a police shooting
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly - an extremely well written historical murder mystery
The Disreputable History of Frankie Laudau-Banks by E. Lockhart - a tale of a spirited girl who insists on joining a secret boys prank society.


message 20: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Riddle My daughter loves anything by Raina Telgemeier: Smile, Sisters, Drama, Ghosts, Babysitter's Club graphic novels. She also enjoyed El Deafo, Sunny side up series, Positively Izzy, Invisible Emmie, All's Faire in Middle School.


message 21: by L. (new)

L. McCoy I haven’t read any of these but would like to say this: comics are what got me into reading.
I’m currently in high school, a few years ago I would have told you I don’t like reading. Now, I’ve been known to pick up a big huge Stephen King novel with a smile on my face.
Seriously, comics can help you get into reading (not to mention that they’re also great books, seriously if you want recommendations for comics to read as a teen or adult (IDK what ones are good for kids, most of what I read is NOT FOR KIDS) just tell me what kind of genres you’re into).


message 22: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Jones I would Jake Atlas and the Emerald Stone and Jake Atlas and the Feathered God. Brilliant read for 8 - 16 year olds


message 23: by Spencer (new)

Spencer Carvalho Brandy wrote: "I'm a librarian and I get weary eyes from parents when I suggest graphic novels for their child's summer reading needs. They don't seem to understand how well a graphic novel will engage and encour..."

Brandy you're a good librarian. Keep encouraging kids to read even if their parents are weary eyed. Someone has to care.


message 24: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Jones Holly wrote: "I'm just here looking for a fun new book for my daughter, but the discussion fascinates me.

One thing I don't understand is why so many adult readers are scolded for not including YA in their read..."


Try Jake Atlas series by Rob Lloyd Jones. They are all about two young people with their parent taking part in adventure in Egypt and the far East. A bit of Indiana Jones and Mission impossible! Great reads Many schools have now placed them in their libraries.


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