As a middle school librarian, I know that graphic novels are always a hit with my students. Whether they’re exploring historical events with Nathan Hale, surviving middle school with Raina Telgemier, or checking out graphic adaptations of beloved books like Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover, the pairings of snappy dialogues and thoughtful illustrations make them a go-to pick for many of my readers.
While I know that all students can read and love graphic novels, I’ve found that they can be an especially effective way to draw in students who are more reluctant to check out a book. By allowing readers to absorb a story through both image and text, graphic novels can help students stay more engaged with the story and feel confident in their reading abilities, two things that help build lifelong readers. Additionally, encouraging students to try graphic novels gives them an opportunity to practice synthesizing images and text together.
There are so many great middle grade graphic novels releasing each month. Below are just a few titles to look forward to this fall. Whether the kids in your life are looking for realistic fiction, fantasy, or something else entirely, they’ll find great suggestions and exciting choices in the books below!
Cold War Correspondent by Nathan Hale (October 26)
The latest installment in the Nathan Hale collection of historical graphic novels profiles Marguerite Higgins, the bureau chief for Far East Asia at the start of the Korean War. Higgins risked her life many times to report on some of the war’s most important moments, including the fall of Seoul to the Communists, but is ordered to leave by the military, who says that women don’t belong on the front lines. Higgins appealed the decision, paving the way for female war correspondents.
Besties: Work it Out by Kayla Miller, Jeffrey Canino, and Kristina Luu (October 19)
Fans of Click and Camp will be thrilled to hear about Miller’s spin-off series, which further explores the background characters in those graphic novels. When Beth and Chanda pick up a dogsitting gig for Ms. Langford, their wealthy neighbor, they’re thrilled…until an accident destroys one of her most prized possessions! Now, the friends must scramble to raise the money for a replacement before Ms. Langford gets back from her trip!
Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds and Raúl the Third (November 30)
Portico Reeves, AKA Stuntboy, has a big job. He’s the superhero whose superpower is keeping other people, like his parents and neighbors, safe from harm. But lately, Stuntboy senses that something’s off. His parents are always fighting, and his stomach fills up with the “worry wiggles” when he knows they’re being mean to each other. Middle graders will relate to Stuntboy and his determination to save the day.
The Awakening Storm by Jaimal Yogis and Vivian Truong (Out Now)
The first in a series, this graphic novel will instantly appeal to fans of dragons and fantasy. When Grace moves to Hong Kong with her mom and stepdad, she’s mostly worried about fitting in at school. But one day, an old woman gifts her a mysterious egg on a field trip, and when that egg hatches, out comes a dragon. Now, Grace and her classmates must race to protect the dragons from a sinister plot to take away their power and take over the city in this action-packed graphic novel.
I Survived Graphic Novels by Lauren Tarshis, Haus Studios, Álvaro Sarraseca, and Corey Egbert (November 2)
I love the I Survived books for how much they appeal to all types of readers in my library, so I’m thrilled to see their engaging stories of survival presented in graphic novel format! Each book features a kid who overcomes a disaster or difficult time in history despite the harrowing, and often life-threatening, challenges that they face.
Fox Fires by Emilia Ojala (November 1)
Based on Finnish mythology, this graphic novel would be a perfect pick for middle graders working their way to the Warriors series. The Fox Fires are a gate between the living and the dead, but when they abruptly slam closed one night, a young raccoon dog named Raate sets out to find out why. Along her journey, Raate meets new creatures and friends while also exploring the landscapes of Finland.
Ben Yokoyama and the Cookie of Perfection by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (December 7)
When Ben Yokoyama gets a fortune cookie that tells him “practice makes perfect” he decides to make it his new motto and demands perfection of everyone he knows, including himself. Along the way, Ben looks for improved parents, better hobbies, and more accomplished friends, without realizing how much he’s giving up to chasing perfection. A great read for kids who need to be reminded of the importance of doing their best, but not letting perfectionism rule their lives.
Other Boys by Damian Alexander (Out Now)
An emotional graphic novel about a boy who feels like he doesn’t fit in. There’s a lot that makes Damian feel different from his classmates: he’s being raised by his grandparents after his mother died and his father left, his family has less money than most of the kids at school, and he’s pretty sure he has a crush on a boy. To keep kids from bullying him, Damian decides that the easiest solution is to just not talk, at all. Pick up this touching middle school story to see how Damian finds his voice.
The Unfinished Corner by Dani Colman, Rachel “Tuna” Petrovicz, Whitney Cogar, and Jim Campbell, Edited by Rebecca Taylor (October 19)
Twelve-year-old Miriam is preparing for her upcoming Bat Mitzvah while wrestling with the question of whether or not she wants to be Jewish and what that means to her. One day, she and her friends are whisked away to the Unfinished Corner, a piece of creation that is said to have been left unfinished by God, and are told to complete it. Through their journey, Miriam learns about her religion and herself, and this graphic novel offers middle graders a unique perspective on a point of view that is often overlooked.
The Secret Garden on 81st Street: A Modern Graphic Retelling of The Secret Garden by Ivy Noelle Weir and Amber Padilla (October 19)
The second book in the ReMixed Classic series, this one features Mary Lennox, who moves in with her uncle in NYC after losing both her parents. Looking for an outlet, Mary discovers the rooftop garden on her uncle’s building, and her cousin with anxiety, and works together with her friends to restore it.