Want to Get Into Graphic Novels? Start Here!

This is for all the book lovers who have gotten too busy and feel a void where reading for fun used to be. I love to read. Reading has always been an escape for me, but since coming to college I just feel like I don’t have any time to read. Luckily for me, I’m an education major, which means that I have to read a lot of young adult books that I might use in my future classroom. One of my professors is a big believer in using graphic novels in the classroom, so she assigns graphic novels for us to read all the time. I’m so glad I took her class because I’ve now fallen in love with graphic novels! I can finish a short graphic novel in one sitting. Longer ones could take a day or two, but even that is much quicker than reading full novels in the free time that I don’t have. Here are my recommendations to get you started with graphic novels!


El Deafo by Cece Bell and illustrated by David Lasky


This book is meant for younger audiences, but it is still so good! It follows the main character who is deaf. Cece Bell is actually deaf, and this book is based on her experiences as a child. The art is adorable, the story is very sweet and the representation is great! This is a graphic novel that you will finish in one sitting. It’s a short one, but worth the read.


Robot Dreams by Sara Varon


Have you ever read a book with no words? Here is your chance! Just because this book has no words, doesn’t mean that it’s an easy read. You have to really study the pictures to get the full effect of this book. I genuinely cried while reading this for the first time. It may be marketed to children, but this story is one that anyone can relate to and appreciate. I cannot explain just how much I recommend this book. It follows a dog who is lonely and makes a robot friend. From there the emotional journey begins!


Nimona by Noelle Stevenson


This graphic novel started out as a webcomic series, but it’s been brought together into one book. This one is longer, so it may take a couple of sittings to finish. The story is about a villain and his sidekick’s mission to reveal the truth about heroes! It’s funny, genuine, and original. This book has been praised for its subtle representation as well. It’s not explicitly stated, but a lot of LGBTQ+ readers have been able to identify with some of the main characters. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s definitely worth checking out!


Brave by Svetlana Chmakova and Crush by Svetlana Chmakova


These books are written for middle school students and are set in a middle school, but you can enjoy them at any age! The stories are both set in Berrybrook Middle School which is really just like any middle school ever. These books are adorable and unafraid to tackle difficult topics with grace. Brave illustrates the issue of bullying from a different perspective than usual, and Crush follows a character who has a crush but also subtly explains the issue of body autonomy in a way that middle school students can understand. I cannot recommend these books enough! They are also yet another example of graphic novels with wonderful representation! Many people who have autism have been able to identify with the main character from Brave, and all of Svetlana Chmakova’s books feature a diverse cast of characters.


Stitches: A Memoir by David Small



This book is probably the most mature one on this list. It is for an older audience, and I am going to say right away that it covers difficult topics. It is a coming of age memoir about David Small who was essentially his father’s lab rat. His father was a doctor who believed he could cure David Small’s respiratory problems with heavy doses of radiation, which may have been the cause of Small’s cancer. It’s a harrowing and beautiful graphic novel, but may be triggering to some readers, so please be sure to read the book description first on this one!


Romeo and Juliet by Gareth Hinds


I have been a long-time hater of this Shakespeare classic. However, this graphic novel interpretation set me straight! Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be seen, not read, and a graphic novel is a perfect way to convey the visual aspect without having to go to a theater. Shakespeare is so much easier to understand when you’re able to see his writing acted out which is why this graphic novel was much more enjoyable to me than just reading the play. If you have a bone to pick with Shakespeare, I highly recommend reading this graphic novel before you completely count him out! What’s even more enjoyable about this book is its representation! This adaptation of Romeo and Juliet acknowledges that not everyone in the world is white without changing the story to “fit” the diverse characters. It’s the same story, unlike other adaptations who only use diverse characters if the story has changed.


This is just a starting point! If you read your way through this list and want more, start by looking up other graphic novels by these authors. From there you will be blissfully in a graphic novel rabbit hole with no intentions of climbing out! Graphic novels are the perfect way to fill the void left behind when you have little time to read for fun. Additionally, they are often a better place to find representation than other traditional forms of reading. I hope that you give graphic novels an honest try. Happy reading!



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