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15 Graphic Novels for the Middle Grade Reader on Your Holiday Shopping List

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Mara Franzen

Staff Writer

Mara (They/Them) has accidentally on purpose made their entire life about books and stories. Mara graduated with a B.A in creative writing and theatre and is halfway through an MFA in Creative writing. In addition to writing for Book Riot, Mara also has written for The Independent Book Review, Wargamer, and The Other Half, to name a few. They also work as a fiction editor with The Minison Project. Nearly all of their published articles can be found here.

As a young reader, I tore through my school and public libraries’ middle grade selections. But, for some reason, I skipped most of the graphic novels in the section. I didn’t love The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I assumed that all graphic novels must be like that, so I avoided them. Now that I’ve grown up a little bit I’ve fallen in love with graphic novels, and back in love with middle grade books! Here are some of my favorites out now! Perfect for young readers, and readers who are young at heart. 

In no particular order: 

Amulet: The Stonekeeper

The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi 

Emily and Navin must move with their mother to a family member’s old home shortly after the death of their father. At first, Emily and Navin start to realize strange things are happening in this old house. When something mysterious lure the children’s mother away in the night, they enlist the help of a robotic rabbit to traverse the mystical underworld that resides under their home. 

Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm

A middle school girl has trouble adjusting to school life but loves playing Dungeons & Dragons. We follow Sunny as she works to make friends, succeed in school, and fight dragons (in-game, and real-life metaphorical ones).

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson 

A 12-year-old girl signs up for roller derby, while her best friend signs up for dance camp. The story follows Astrid as she learns to love roller skating and making her own way. 

Diary of a Tokyo Teen by Christine Mari Inzer

This is a graphic memoir written about the author’s trip back to Tokyo right before her 16th birthday. We follow her as she reconnects with her roots. This is a hilarious and interesting journey filled with delicious food and quirky characters. 

Stargazing by Jen Wang 

A delightful story about what friendship means and the struggles that come when your friend is almost the opposite of you. Navigating strict parents, school talent shows, and the trials and tribulations that come with being a kid, Moon and Christine are two friends who you will think about for a long time. 

Atomic Ace and the Robot Rampage by Jeff Weigel 

One day, when Atomic Ace is defending the Earth from a meteor threat, a tyrannical villain sends an army of robots after the wrong family member…Atomic Ace’s son. How will he defend himself against a robot army? Will anyone be there to help him? Well, that’s just part of the surprise. 

Doodleville by Chad Sell 

Drew is a young artist and an accomplished doodler. So accomplished, in fact, that her doodles seem to come to life, and she can visit them all in Doodleville.  But when she accidentally creates an evil monster, she and her friends must come together to save Doodleville. 

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez 

Sandy is greeted every night by tiny specks of light that turn into magical creatures to lay with her. Then every morning, Sandy turns them into drawings that fill her notebook. One day, her drawings get noticed by the new girl, Morfie. But Morfie may not be as she appears. 

The Tea Dragon Society book cover

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neil 

A young blacksmith’s apprentice named Greta explores the wonderful world she lives in and learns about Tea Dragon care. Her adventure begins when she discovers a lost Tea Dragon. Accompanied by a growing list of colorful friends, Greta sees how the lost art of Tea Dragon care helps those around her, and maybe even eventually herself.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani 

Priyanka, or Pri for short, has a lot of questions about her mom’s past. The big ones are: Who is her father, and why did her mother leave him behind when she left India? One day, Pri discovers a long lost Pashmina that transports her back to the India her mother left behind…or is it? 

Fake Blood by Whitney Gardner

AJ is feeling a bit left behind. All of his friends are growing up, and going on cool summer adventures and he seems to be the only one doing none of those things. He wants to be one of the cool kids, but mostly he wants his long time crush Nina to like him. One problem, though—she only seems to crush on vampires. When working on a group project he decides to dress up like a vampire to impress her…turns out she doesn’t want to date vampires, she wants to slay them. 

Little White Duck by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez

In 1970s Wuhan China, we followed sisters Da Qin and Xiao Qin. Beginning with the death of the president, we follow eight stories about the sisters growing up in a world much changed from when their parents were children. They must navigate not only civil unrest and change but the everyday perils and pitfalls of growing up. 

Awkward Svetlana Chmakova

Sometimes it can feel like school is a series of unofficial rules. When Penelope breaks the first rule, “Don’t get noticed by the mean kids,” she goes on an adventure to learn that sometimes, to survive in school, friendships are more important and that rules, sometimes, are meant to be broken. 

Compass South by Hope Larson and Rebecca Mock

The year: 1860. The place: New York City. Alex and Cleopatra are looking for their father who has mysteriously vanished. After getting mixed up in a heist, they are caught by police but are able to trade information for two tickets to New Orleans. From there they split up in search of their father. Except there’s a catch…They are being hunted by pirates. 

Suee and the Shadow by Ginger Ly and Molly Park

Suee likes to be a little bit different than the other kids. When she transfers to a new school, things seem to be a little more different than she’s comfortable with. First off, her shadow comes to life and starts talking to her. Also, her classmates are slowly turning into zombies, one by one. Suee must work hard to figure out how to stop the sinister plot of whoever is doing this. 

So, If you know a middle grade level reader who never knows what books to ask for, I hope this list is a great jumping-off point. There are so many great reads on this list, there’s bound to something for everyone. Happy reading!