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Reading List for Young Readers – Graphic Novels About Overcoming Challenges

By March 19, 2020December 5th, 2023Tools for Kids

If comic books and graphic novels are your thing, check out this recommended reading list of graphic novels for middle grade and young adult readers that feature young heroes who are overcoming adversity of all kinds.  Enjoy!

el deafo

El Deafo

by Cece Bell     A loose autobiographical account of Bell’s childhood, the story illustrates and discusses how the author lost her hearing as a little girl. From kindergarten onward, Cece wants a best friend to call her own, but her deafness and feelings of insecurity sometimes get in her way. Following her through elementary school and the adjustment period that followed, El Deafo is a truthful, charming, funny comics memoir. Recommended Ages: 7+



by Raina Telgemeier     Guts is a wonderful book that teaches kids about accepting our body differences in a fun and educational way. When Raina catches the stomach flu and vomits, she doesn’t think much of the incident until she starts feeling sick at school for no particular reason. Soon, she can’t stop thinking about needing to use the bathroom and fearing that she’ll be sick. It gets to the point where she is having trouble concentrating on her schoolwork. So what is really going on? In this funny, sensitive account of dealing with bathroom anxiety, Raina Telgemeier shares her fears about growing up with tummy troubles. Recommended Ages: 7+

oracle code

The Oracle Code

by Marieke Nijkamp and Manuel Preitano     After an accident puts her in a wheelchair, Barbara Gordon must undergo physical and mental rehabilitation at Arkham Center for Independence. She must adapt to a new normal, but she cannot shake the feeling that something is dangerously amiss. Strange sounds escape at night while patients start to go missing. With a brilliantly developed STEM heroine, The Oracle Code is a remarkable story about friendship, confidence, and belonging. Recommended Ages: 10+

i kill giants

I Kill Giants

by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura     In this bittersweet, coming-of-age adventure, Barbara Thorson, battles monsters both real and imagined, while kicking butt, taking names, and facing her greatest fear. Barbara doesn’t shy away from telling her class of her true calling as a giant killer, but her brutal honesty leads to mockery and extrema social isolation. As she prepares for the impending invasion of giants, something extraordinary and terrifying lurks on the horizon. This is a masterful story, wonderfully told. Recommended Ages: 9+

molly danger

Molly Danger

by Jamal Igle     She’s the hero you’ve been waiting for! Eternally child-like and inhumanly strong, Molly Danger has protected the citizens of the once sleepy town of Coopersville, New York for the past 20 years from the terror of the sinister Supermechs. But what secrets from her past threaten to destroy everything she holds dear? Recommended Ages: 7+


Leon: Protector of the Playground

by Jamar Nicholas     A super fun graphic novel with the humor of Captain Underpants, and the heart and wit of Spider-Man. Combining a hip kid super-hero, super villains like Broccoli Rob and hamster Villain Mr. Nipsey, bullies plotting from detention, and rogue hall monitors, making daily life in public school setting a smart and super fun, graphic novel read. Recommended Ages: 7+


The UnCommons

by Weird Enough Productions     Founded on the campus of Elon University, when a group of friends grew tired of the lack of diversity in mainstream media, Weird Enough Productions produces original stories that spotlight the complexity of the human condition. Their talented collective has created over 400 pages of comics, lesson plans and activities for parents to share with their children. Not only that, but in their riveting series, The UnCommons, they tell a remarkable story about five unlikely outsiders who must save each other to save the world. Recommended Ages: 10+

couri vine

Couri Vine

by Vanessa Shealy and Leah Lovise     Girl. Nerd. Superhero. In this extra-ordinary science-fiction series, young Couri must overcome her own differences and limitations to save her grandfather and his legacy from the fiendish Moon Leader Todal. Brimming with colorful comic book bravado and futuristic thrills, this is a delightful story for the young and young at heart. The indie comic series is written by the author of CTF’s NF HERO COMICS, Vanessa Shealy Younger. Recommended Ages: 7+

just for kids

Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus

by NPR     With schools, libraries, and many bookstores off-limits, publishers and creators have responded with a range of free comics and related resources. This mini-comic, based on a radio story by NPR’s Cory Turner, is illustrated by Malaka Gharib, author of the graphic memoir I Was Their American Dream. Versions of his story are available in English, Chinese, and Spanish, children of all ages can print and fold the comic at home.