These Graphic Novels Will Convert Your Reluctant Reader

They can be virtually any genre from fiction to fantasy to historical non-fiction. They can be written on essentially any topic. What sets graphic novels apart is not so much their content, but rather their format.

Graphic novels are books written and illustrated in the same manner as comics. The primary difference between a graphic novel and a comic book is that a graphic novel is usually an individual piece of work rather than part of a sequential series.

These books can be especially appealing to middle school kids, whose busy schedules and newfound interests may prevent them from picking up books just for fun. Detailed drawings and short bits of text will attract reluctant readers and really pull them in.

The following graphic novels are appropriate for middle school readers and range from funny to dark, and some even quirky, making it easy to choose one that fits your tween or young teen’s preferences:


by Raina Telgemeier

If there is one thing middle school kids know, it’s drama. Along with traditional teen drama such as breakups, mean girls, and food fights, this graphic novel also focuses on the drama class experiences of a young theater geek.

Callie is in charge of set design for her school’s production of Moon over Mississippi and she intends to create the most impressive set ever, but things don’t always go as planned. Throw in her huge crush on a theater friend’s cute older brother, her relationships with flamboyant, fun Justin and his polar opposite twin brother Jesse, and an unexpected conclusion, and you have all of the middle school drama you could want.

Kids will enjoy the range of characters, cartoon-like illustrations, and surprising plot twists of this book.

Little Fish: A Memoir

by Ramsey Beyer

Unique in that it is a true retelling of the author’s eighteenth year, this graphic novel shows Ramsey’s life as she transitions from a small town girl in high school to a full-fledged grownup (sort of) attending art school in a big city far from home.

The autobiography is written in a captivating style, with text and images ranging from typed up lists (which is sort of Ramsey’s thing) to captioned cartoon blocks, to doodled maps, and more. The graphics will capture a young reader’s attention and the content of the novel will keep them turning pages right up to the end.

Although the protagonist is going off to college, this book is sure to resonate with middle school kids who are undergoing any major changes.

Coraline: The Graphic Novel 

by Neil Gaiman

Many tweens and teens are already familiar with Coraline and other Neil Gaiman books, but they have not experienced them like this before.

In this graphic novel adaptation of the peculiar story, Coraline, the Other Mother, and all of the characters in the book are vividly illustrated. The drawings and format of the book are nothing like the animated film, which many middle schoolers have likely watched. Rather, it is similar to the appearance of a Marvel comic book, with realistically drawn people and settings, narration written in bold across the image, and speech bubbles containing conversations.

Readers who have a penchant for creepy, eerie, and weird books or movies will especially appreciate this book, whether they have read the original or not.

Anya’s Ghost

by Vera Brosgol

Life is tough. There is only one other Russian kid at Anya’s school, and he’s totally awkward. She is constantly fighting with her best and only friend. And then, of course, there is the ghost.

After sneaking away from school one frustrating day, Anya falls into a hole, unearthing a young woman’s skeleton. The tortured soul of the girl has been trapped there for nearly a century. Emily – the ghost – stays with Anya. At first, she is a helpful friend and confident. Over time though, the spirit shows a much more sinister side.

The graphic novel, drawn in black, white, and shades of purple, ranges from humorous to creepy, to completely relatable for most adolescent readers.


by Jason Shiga

If you adored “choose your own adventure” books when you were younger, you will be excited to share this graphic novel with your middle schooler.

The book is written in comic book format… well, sort of, anyway. Rather than reading from left to right and from top to bottom, kids follow indicators (and the protagonist, Jimmy, who is inside of a mad scientist’s lab) from one illustration to the next, and from page to page until the path forks. Then, readers must make a decision on Jimmy’s behalf.

With flipping and folding pages, simple, but interesting drawings, and numerous potential storylines, this will become a favorite book that young teens can read again and again, finding something new every time they do.

What are some of your tween’s favorite graphic novels? Share with us!

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Tags : books   graphic novels   

Elodie Nilsson
Oh, I'm definitely going to try these for my niece.