Top 15 Graphic Novels for Tweens and Teens

Top 15 Graphic Novels for Pre-teens and Teens

We have already explored the incredible book and film resources that promote a growth mindset in pre-teens and teens. But have you discovered the power of graphic novels for inspiring learning and curiosity?

The graphic novels on our list explore perseverance, learning from mistakes, and overcoming challenges. And they have major literacy benefits too! Studies show visual narratives can improve your adolescent’s reading fluency, comprehension and even memory recall.

Check out our list of 15 engaging (and beautifully illustrated) graphic novels to help your pre-teen or teen harness the power of a growth mindset — long after the final page is turned.

*Disclaimer: Parents, caregivers, and teachers are advised to read about the novels to ensure they are appropriate for their children.

Top 15 Graphic Novels for Tweens and Teens

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (ages 13-17 years)

A National Book Award Finalist, this irreverent gem follows young shapeshifter Nimona on her mission as sidekick to the villainous Lord Ballister Blackheart. Together, they hope to expose the truth about their kingdom’s hero, Sir Goldenloin. Nimona reveals how confidence and humour can get us through life’s most epic battles.


The Stonekeeper (Amulet 1) by Kazu Kibuishi (ages 7-12 years)

After the sudden death of her father, Emily moves to a strange and enchanted home with her mother and brother Navin. When her mother disappears as well, Emily and Navin must navigate a magical and dangerous underground world to find her. Emily discovers  having the courage to face her fears is the real magic.

The Nameless City

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks (ages 9+ years)

Kaidu and Rat both inhabit the City — but they live in very different worlds. Kaidu is a son of the Daos, the latest group of invaders. Rat is a native of the Nameless City, and understandably detests its conquerors. Their budding friendship teaches Kaidu what it’s like to be part of an oppressed group, and Rat how to trust in something new.


Tomboy by Liz Prince (ages 13-18 years)

Equal parts humorous and heartbreaking, Liz Prince’s graphic memoir explores her childhood years as a “tomboy.” Rejecting all things girly, Prince is subjected to bullying from elementary school onwards. Tomboy is a powerful exploration of identity, and what it means to be comfortable in our own skin.


Sheets by Brenna Thummler (ages 9-12 years)

Marjorie is a grief-stricken teen in charge of her family’s laundry shop. Wendell is a lonely ghost who finds comfort there. Their unlikely friendship gives them the strength to confront the evil Mr. Saubertuck, who threatens to take the shop, as well as their own significant losses.

Cucumber Quest Series

Cucumber Quest Series by Gigi D.G. (ages 8-12 years)

This delightful series is proof dangerous quests can still be light-hearted and fun. Far from your typical hero, Cucumber is a bookish bunny who’d much rather be at school. But when the evil Queen Cordelia threatens his kingdom, it’s Cucumber and his brave sister Almond to the rescue!

Stig and Tilde: Vanisher’s Island

Stig and Tilde: Vanisher’s Island by Max de Radigues (ages 10+ years)

This coming-of-age tale follows twins Stig and Tilde on an unexpected adventure. Like all 14-year-olds in their country, the twins set sail for Tilsa Island to spend a month without adult supervision. But when a sudden storm puts them off course and on the wrong island, can they rise to the challenge and make their way home?

Anya's Ghost

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol (ages 9+ years)

Anya’s big emotions will be all-too-familiar to pre-teens and teens. A misfit at school, embarrassed by her family, and frustrated with her looks, Anya runs away from the bus stop only to fall down an abandoned well. There she meets the ghost of Emily, who helps her escape and begins changing her life for the better. Or so it seems.


Displacement by Kiku Hughes (ages 12+ years)

On vacation in San Francisco, Kiku is suddenly transported to the 1940’s Japanese-American internment camp where her grandmother is incarcerated. Kiku is displaced in time, a firsthand witness to the trauma her grandmother experiences. This historical graphic novel is a story of resilience and connectedness across generations.

This One Summer

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki (ages 12+ years)

This Caldecott Medal winner follows Rose as she returns to her small and idyllic summer beach town. Simultaneously longing for a simpler time and wanting to leave childhood behind, Rose struggles to find her place. The mounting tension between Rose’s parents and her crush on an older boy underscore the many ups and downs of adolescence.

When Stars Are Scattered

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (ages 9+ years)

A National Book Award Finalist, this beautifully illustrated memoir exposes life inside a Kenyaan refugee camp. Omar’s problems are significant — food scarcity, lack of water and poor health care. He instead focuses on what he can control: “I didn’t choose to be a refugee, but I’m choosing to believe in a future for my family.”

New Kid

New Kid by Jerry Craft (ages 9-12 years)

Starting at a new school is tough. Especially when you’re the one of the few children of colour. As 12-year-old Jordan navigates life at a prestigious private (and mostly white) middle school, his art provides the creative outlet he needs to cope.

What We Don’t Talk About

What We Don’t Talk About by Charlot Kristensen (ages 13-17 years)

This colourful debut novel depicts the interracial relationship of Farai and Adam. After two years of dating, Farai is optimistic about finally meeting Adam’s parents. But when Adam downplays how horribly the visit goes (and his parents’ racist comments), Farai must choose how to move forward — together or alone.

This Was Our Pact

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews (ages 10+ years)

A dreamy novel about staying curious and following one’s dreams. Every year on the Autumn Equinox, Ben’s town floats paper lanterns down the river. But do the lanterns really turn into stars? Ben and his classmates make a pact to find out, leading them on a journey filled with magic and the unlikeliest of friendships.

Almost American Girl

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha (ages 13-17 years)

A memoir about coping with dramatic change, Robin Ha traces her jarring relocation from Seoul, Korea to Huntsville, Alabama. There, she is faced with her mother’s sudden marriage, a stepfamily she doesn’t relate to, and a school where she can’t understand the language. It’s not until her mother enrolls her in a comic drawing class that Robin begins to find her way.

Graphic novels can improve fluency and understanding in even the most reluctant of readers. With so many incredible options available, focus on those that instill a growth mindset too. The books on our list show pre-teens and teens how to persevere through even their greatest obstacles and gain skills they need for everyday life.

Don’t forget to check out the NEW graphic novella series by Big Life Journal, which includes stories about fictional, relatable teen characters who face everyday challenges in school, with friends, and at home. They will experience ups and downs, make mistakes, and face a great deal of self-doubt.

Graphic novels can improve fluency

Just like every pre-teen and teen. And they will also employ a growth mindset, do hard things to overcome their fears, and face the world with courage and confidence.

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