This list of middle grade comics is sponsored by Graphix Books, an imprint of Scholastic, Inc.
From comics rising star Sarah Graley, a fresh and funny middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl who must save a virtual world… and her own! Izzy has an incredible secret — she can enter the world of her new video game! She meets Rae, a robot who says Izzy is destined to save Dungeon City from the Big Boss. How is this possible?! And how can she fight for this virtual world when she’s got a whole real life to keep up with: her family and her best friend, Eric. Can Izzy survive Dungeon City and save their friendship?
The comics industry is growing year after year, but not in the area or demographic you might expect. Consistently, the numbers show that comics for younger readers, especially middle grade graphic novels, are the largest and fastest growing readership. Whether you’re a teacher, parent, or just a reader who enjoys a good story (and maybe wants to have something to talk about with your niece or nephew), here are some great middle grade comics that exemplify why kids cannot get enough of comics today.
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Callie loves the theatre, but as she’s not the world’s greatest (or even sorta okay) singer, she opts instead for being the set designer. Determined to make the best set she possibly can on a dwindling middle school theatre budget, Callie throws herself into the backstage theatre life, which includes crushing hard when two brothers are cast in the musical. Telgemeier (queen of great middle grade comics) captivates readers with her clean, colorful art, authentic and diverse cast of characters, and relatable storytelling.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
Hands down, one of the hardest parts of growing up is learning to navigate friendships, which is so thoughtfully explored in Real Friends. Shannon has always been friends with Adrienne, but at the start of a new school year, Adrienne starts hanging out with another girl, Jen, and The Group. Shannon Hale’s memoir about her young friendships is the book I wish I had when I was 11, and I’m so glad kids have it now. Hale writes so authentically about the feelings of being lonely, left out, and confused by friendship rules you didn’t realize existed. Pham elevates the story with her expressive illustrations, making this a book you will want to read over and over again.
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez
Sandy likes to take the lights she sees in her room as she falls asleep, turn them into whatever pleases her using her imagination, and draw her fantastical world and creatures the next day. Her nightlight world is threatened when a new girl from school shows up in her room at night and tries to take over, which makes Sandy quite angry. Alvarez tackles being a creative person without bowing to outside voices and pressure in her solo debut, using such a rich color palette you’ll want to dive into each page.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
In this award-winning, autobiographical story, Cece Bell recounts what it was like to go deaf after an illness when she was very young, and learn to live in the world wearing a “Phonic Ear.” Bell tells the story of her early school years with bunnies representing people—a smart, easy to understand storytelling device to emphasize the large role sound plays in the world. A funny, touching, and delightful comic on all levels.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
It’s 1976, and 10-year-old Sunny is adjusting to living with her grandfather in Florida for the summer. She makes a new comic book loving friend, does odd jobs for the quirky neighbors, and generally enjoys her summertime days. Via flashbacks throughout the comic, we learn more about Sunny, her family—most importantly her brother—and what caused her to be sent away for the summer. A thoughtful, compassionate exploration of addiction and processing complicated emotions, Sunny Side Up is a wonderful introduction to the topic for kids.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Victoria Jamieson’s award-winning, debut graphic novel is a delight! Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done what her best friend, Nicole, did—until this summer. Astrid joins derby camp after attending a roller derby match with her mom and falling in love with the sport, and Nicole abandons her for ballet camp. Jamieson’s story of growing up, learning hard lessons about friendship, and taking your first steps into the adult world is a dynamic and fantastic read for everyone.
Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
The first in a series, Amulet: The Stonekeeper introduces the reader to Emily and Navin, siblings who have recently moved into an old, family house after their father died. One day, Emily finds an old amulet and puts it on, only to have her mother captured by a monster and taken through a door to another world. Can Emily and Navin rescue their mother? What is the mysterious amulet that started this all? Kibuishi’s dark fantasy is engrossing and will hook you within a few pages.
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Best friends Sanity and Tallulah live together on a space station, where Sanity is wont to try secret science experiments away from the eyes of grown ups. Things get slightly out of hand when Sanity creates Princess Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds, a three-headed kitten! When the kitten escapes, the two girls set out to find their experiment, and come across a bigger threat to their entire home. This delightful story is funny, full of adventures, and enjoyable for the science-loving kids.