Reading Our recommended novels for teens and young adults to appeal to reluctant readers and able readers alike. This list includes works by Tony Medina, Stephen Collins, Terri Libenson, Raina Telgemeier, Meg-John Barker and Neil Gaiman.
Our recommended graphic novels for teens and young adults aged 12-16
Roy of the Rovers by Rob Williams A graphic novel companion to Scouted by Tom Palmer, Kick-Off is a gritty and powerful story about tough times at Melchester Rovers, with the football club struggling to stay afloat. At 16, Roy Race should be a million miles away from the first team, but can he realise his dreams and improve the club’s fortunes? Fence by C.S. PacatThis is the first in a series of 12 action-packed graphic novels that features Nicholas Cox, who is determined to be the big new star of the fencing world. That’s until he comes up against his sword-wielding nemesis Seiji and his own half-brother who can seemingly do no wrong. A compelling read.
Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan The first of a series of three. Set in Halloween, 1984, this coming of age series focuses on four girls who uncover a mysterious and earth-shattering secret. Very popular with reluctant readers and teens who enjoy Stranger Things.
I am Alfonso Jones by Alfonso Jones A distinctive and clever graphic novel told from beyond the dead by Alfonso who is mistakenly shot by a police officer. Ideal for reluctant readers who are interested in urban stories, hip-hop and a fight for justice.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins A quirky, clever and often laugh out loud funny graphic story about Dave – who is totally bald – and who lives on an island where everyone is clean-shaven. One day, however, Dave starts sprouting a monstrous beard that won’t stop growing… One for all the pogonophobes out there.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman A classic graphic novel that is ideal for KS3 readers. When Coraline moves to a new home, she realises that her flat is very different from the other flat in the building. When she steps through the door she finds another flat, another set of parents and they don’t want her to leave… Creepy and imaginative with dark and atmospheric illustrations.
Positively Izzy by Terri Libenson Set in a middle school, friendships between tweens and teens are riven with real-life embarrassments, hilarious moments and drama. Fast-paced and very accessible.
The Recruit: The Graphic Novel by Robert Muchamore A graphic novel adaptation of the Robert Muchamore novel “The Recruit” which is very popular amongst KS3 pupils. A gripping page-turner with edgy characters and settings. Ideal for the most reluctant reader.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier When Maya’s family moves to the warmer climate in Northern California to help her cystic fibrosis, she and her sister are keen to explore their new home. She never expected to find ghosts living there. And she never expected them to be friendly. Warm and touching, and ideal for lower ability readers.
Noughts & Crosses Graphic Novel by Malorie Blackman A sharply written story about Callum and Sephy who are born into opposite ends of society – one inferior and repressed, and the other elevated and bestowed with power. This graphic novel adaptation is ideal to help teenagers access the story, which is perfect for KS3 book clubs.
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson This is a startling and memorable adaptation of the award-winning YA novel. Something happened to Melinda, something she refuses to talk about. No one wants to talk to her and no one wants to listen. Only through art can she begin to express the horrors she has experienced. A must-read for Y10 and Y11 and a key resource for teaching and discussing consent in PSHE.
The Complete MAUS by Art Spiegelman An important and Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel. Maus presents Vladek – a holocaust survivor and his son who depicts his story through art. The visceral illustrations use mice and cats to show the horrors of Vladek’s experiences through metaphor and imagery. Disturbing yet accessible, this book will leave a jarring and lasting impression on the reader. An interesting counterpoint to Animal Farm for book discussion groups.
The Count of Monte Cristo: Manga Classics by Alexandre Dumas The classic tale of wrongful arrest, imprisonment and intricate relentless and immaculate revenge – all retold in manga. Great for reluctant teen readers and a perfect graphic novel for teen libraries.
Gods of Asgard: A graphic novel by Erik A Evensen Acclaimed illustrator Erik Evensen draws the legendary tales of Thor, Odin, Loki and the world of Valhalla and Asgard. With stunning artwork on every page, this retelling remains true to the mythology and does not dumb down the detail or character nuances in any way.
Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker A historical synthesis of LGBTQ+ identity, politics, culture and societal tolerance. Presented with short bursts of text, facts boxes, infographics and cartoons this is a detailed text which is both accessible and visually engaging. A book which opens minds and invites critical questioning of perceived norms. Recommended for KS4 libraries.
1602 by Neil Gaiman Marvel superheroes and villains travel to a richly imagined, dark and witch-infested Elizabethan England. This unlikely genre mash-up is visually compelling and a good starting point to interest young adults in the world of Neil Gaiman graphic novels.
Primates by Jim Ottaviani A graphic nonfiction biographical history of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas – all pioneering primatologists who not only expanded our knowledge of wild apes but also how their behaviour relates to humans.
The Imitation Game (Graphic Novel) by Jim Ottaviani A moving biographical graphic history of Alan Turning, the English mathematician who cracked the Nazi Enigma code in the 1940s and arguably created the building blocks for computer science and AI. Celebrated after his death, during his lifetime he was arrested, convicted and shunned by society for loving a man. A ground-breaking and emotive graphic novel.
The Giver (Graphic Novel) by Lois Lowry A sparkling adaptation of Lois Lowry’s award-winning YA novel. A great way for less able readers to access this text, which closely follows the original story. The stark and metaphorical illustrations lend themselves to art project ideas on themes of colour contrast and light and shade.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden A time shift futuristic graphic story which chronicles the life of Mia – who lives in space and fixes broken buildings in far-flung edges of the galaxy. An intense love story is revealed, piece by piece, through her life story. A good book to discuss regarding themes of gender and diversity.
Trinity by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm This powerful non-fiction graphic novel tells the story of the atomic bomb from inception to construction to execution. Not only a historical text, this book poses challenging philosophical questions for teens which are ideal for book club and PSHE discussion
Berlin by Jason Lutes A unique graphic novel told with an impassionate distance through the eyes of a city, and how it has been affected by its inhabitants. Spanning a period from prior to the fall of the Weimar to WW2 and beyond, the intricate drawings reveal the futility of demagogue ideology, extremism and war. An ideal counterpoint to Heimat.
Heimat: A German Family Album by Nora Krug An important graphic novel that challenges perceptions. Nora Krug tells how she grew up a second-generation German after WW2 knowing little of where she came from. This graphic diary contains notes, clippings and entries that chart her journey of discovery, uncovering the lives of family relatives who lived under the Nazis, and how she felt about researching her cultural origins. Moving and provocative – this book is ideal for discussion and book groups.
Apollo by Matt Fitch A gripping account of the moon landing in 1969 with insight and input from astronaut Michael Collins. Vibrant illustrations will appeal to pupils in KS3 upwards who are interested in science and exploration…
Kindred: A Graphic Novel by Octavia Butler A richly illustrated and at times disturbing adaptation of Octavia Butler’s dystopian science fiction story in which Dana, a black woman living in 1970s California finds herself moving between her world and a parallel life as a slave in a pre-civil war southern state in which she meets her ancestors and is forced into situations which might affect her future existence. With more mature themes, this would be an interesting graphic novel for teens to read alongside To Kill a Mockingbird or 12 Years a Slave.
• The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo • Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli • Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali • Black Flamingo by Dean Atta • Meat Market by Juno Dawson • High-Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson • Orangeboy by Patrice Lawrence • Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
•The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi • Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo • Noughts & Crosses by Malorie Blackman • Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness • La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve
• Alices Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle • Lord of the Flies by William Golding • The Woman in Black by Susan Hill • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee • 1984 by George Orwell • The Pearl by John Steinbeck • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Good Apple Independent School | Unit 3, Granary House | Acland Street |Gainsborough DN21 2NS Tel: 01427 616803