Comics/Graphic Novels

The Most Popular Middle Grade Comics as Chosen by Students

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Lucas Maxwell


Lucas Maxwell has been working with youth in libraries for over fifteen years. Originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, he's been a high school librarian in London, UK for over a decade. In 2017 he won the UK's School Librarian of the Year award and in 2022 he was named the UK Literacy Association's Reading For Pleasure Teacher Champion. He loves Dungeons & Dragons and is the author of Let's Roll: A Guide for Setting up Tabletop Roleplaying Games in Your School or Public Library. You can follow him on Twitter and on his blog.

As a high school librarian, it’s a great time to be a fan of comics. There are so many amazing ones out there it’s nearly impossible to keep up. I love putting new comics in the hands of our students and they seem to keep coming back to the same ones over and over. I’ve written before on the value of stocking comics in your school library.

To find out the top 10 in our school, I do a few things. First, I run stats, because school librarians love to run stats. I look at the top 10 most heavily borrowed comics since September. However, just because a comic has been checked out doesn’t mean that it’s universally loved by the students. I also ask them in both a formal and an informal manner.

In our library, there is a whiteboard that students can interact with as they enter the library. I asked them what their favourite comics have been this year. I also ask them when they return comics to the desk and when I’m promoting comics to entire classes. I feel these are the best ways to get a well rounded result when it comes to “top 10” lists.

The results are in: here are their top 10 favourite comics so far this school year!

New Kid cover

New Kid by Jerry Craft

When 12-year-old Jordan enrols in a well-to-do private school, he soon discovers that he is one of the few students of color in the entire place. Faced with daily casual racism, Jordan must take the brunt of the psychological and emotional toll these hateful practices inflict. It’s also a heart warming story with lots of humour to it, a stellar debut comic book with a sequel that is equally as good.

Pawcasso Cover

Pawcasso by Remy Lai

I loved this one, Pawcasso is the name given to a random dog that seems to wander into a city on a daily basis and do chores. Who owns this mysterious, adorable pup? Jo tries to find out, and when a white lie gets out of control, she must try hard to cover her tracks and find out the truth behind Pawcasso’s history. This is a really sweet, funny, and quirky story that I cannot keep on the shelves.

Twins Cover

Twins: A Graphic Novel (Twins #1) by Varian Johnson

Maureen and Francine are twins, and they are inseparable. They love doing things together, and nothing will stop them. Nothing, that is, except the 6th grade. This is when Francine decides to break away and seek her own identity, something that Maureen can’t understand. Maureen feels that she is deliberately destroying their friendship and drama ensues. This is another comic that vanishes as soon as it appears back on the shelves.

cover image of When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson & Omar Mohamed

This has been one of our most popular comics for the past two years, partly because we were fortunate enough to meet Omar Mohamed whose life this comic is based on. A true story, it’s a brutally sad and honest look at war and hope. I cannot stress enough how amazing it is, and the students realise this, as I have eight copies that are always a rare sighting.

Kodi Cover

Kodi (Book 1) by Jared Cullum

When Katya goes to Alaska on a vacation, the last thing she thinks is going to happen is that she becomes best friends with a giant kodiak bear. However, Katya must return home to Seattle and leave Kodi behind. What follows is the sweetest adventure story you’ve ever read. Fast, fun, and heartwarming, this is one that you must have on your shelves; it needs no promotion in my library as it’s ridiculously popular.

cover of Chunky by Yehudi Mercado

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado

This is a comic book memoir about finding out who you are that our students absolutely love. Hudi is asked to lose weight, not just by his family but by his doctors. He has an imaginary friend named Chunky that tries to help him along with different sports, namely baseball. Growing up in a no nonsense family, Hudi has to fight to help others realise that his passion isn’t sports, it’s comedy and drawing and having fun. This is a brilliant, body positive story that is not about losing weight. Instead, it’s about celebrating who you are and deciding on what path will make you happy.

The Witch Boy cover

The Witch Boy: A Graphic Novel (The Witch Boy Trilogy #1) by Molly Ostertag

In Aster’s world, all boys become shapeshifters and all girls become witches. However, Aster is more interested in being a witch than anything else, even if being found out results in banishment. This turmoil is set aside when a dangerous being threatens the community, and Aster must prove himself if he’s going to save his family and be who he wants to be.

Measuring Up Cover

Measuring Up by Lily LaMotte

Cici has moved to Seattle from Taiwan and is feeling lonely and homesick. She wants to bring her grandmother from Taiwan to America for her birthday, but the family can’t afford it. There is one way, though: if Cici wins the children’s cooking contest, the prize money will be enough for a plane ticket! I was genuinely on the edge of my seat during each round of the cooking contest. I loved reading this story of identity and friendship, and I know a lot of students have really connected to it.

the girl from the sea cover

The Girl from the Sea: A Graphic Novel by Molly Knox Ostertag

The stats don’t lie: this is by far one of our most popular comics, and I’m not just saying that because it’s set near my hometown in Nova Scotia, Canada. Morgan doesn’t really feel like her friendship circle understands her at all. Worse, her mother has become a sad, lonely figure that doesn’t seem to have a life left in her. Morgan simply wants to get away. Then she meets a mysterious girl named Keltie, and her life swivels nearly out of control. This is a beautiful story about love, life, and leaving behind your small town roots.

Lightfall Cover

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian (Lightfall, 1) by Tim Probert

Fans of Amulet unite! This one is huge in our library, we have a massive Dungeons and Dragons following who devour fantasy, and Lightfall does not disappoint. This is a comic about a girl on a quest to find her missing grandfather. On the way, she becomes embroiled in a much larger quest that forces her to help save the world against a vile god. It’s amazing stuff. Can’t get enough of it!

I hope you have these comics in your library, and if not, I hope you are able to get them in. It’s been a great time asking the students what their favourites are, and there were definitely a few surprises in there!

For even more, check out 50 Must-Read Middle Grade Graphic Novels, Middle Grade Graphic Novels to Lose Yourself In, and The Best New Middle Grade Graphic Novels.