From the graphic retelling of the classic A Wrinkle in Time to an AI-style romance in The Clockwork Girl or a futuristic Ramayan, the comic book universe has a lot to offer growing kids.
By Ritika Jain
Reading clubbed with arresting visuals means double the fun for kids. Hence, the popularity of comic books. The difference between a comic and a graphic novel is akin to a TV series vs a movie. While one continues over many episodes, the other is a complete work in itself. We’ve put together a delightful list of fun titles for your little bookworms to indulge in.
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (10+)
Middle-school crushes, braces, siblings and friends… a heart-warming memoir based on the author’s own childhood, the novel actually deals with the universal subject of finding one’s identity. The book is followed by a sequel called Sisters.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani (10+)
An Indian-American teen attempts to discover her mother’s homeland through a magical pashmina shawl. While her mother’s left many questions unanswered, a letter from her aunt from India convinces her about where her destiny lies. A tale of hardship and self-discovery that spans across two cultures, offers important life lessons for middle-schoolers.
Secret Coders by Gene Yang (8+)
A wildly entertaining series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot. The founder of Stately Academy school has left many clues to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni must solve the mystery, no matter what it takes.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (9+)
Inventive, chilling and filled with wonder, the story of a toddler who wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own. As brilliant as Coraline!
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (8+)
This book is about learning to navigate school life without your best friend always by your side, and making unique choices. Astrid finds out what it takes to be a strong, tough roller-skater.
One Piece by Eiichiro Oda (12+)
Luffy dreams of becoming the next pirate king, and leaves with his crew in search of lost treasure. Not an easy task with an entire ocean full of rival pirates! This series, along with many more like Naruto, Fairy Tail, Deathnote, Blue Exorcist and Fullmetal Alchemist are popular manga series for pre-teens and older kids.
Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson (8+)
Hilda can’t resist exploring her enchanting world—a place where trolls walk, crows speak, and mountains move. The magic and folklore of wild Scandinavia comes alive in this book about an adventurous little girl and her habit of befriending anything, no matter how curious it might seem.
Little Robot by Ben Hatke (6+)
A five-year-old girl finds a robot in the woods, and accidentally activates him. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy. And she must protect her new friend! A simple, moving story about friendship and overcoming fears. Another feat from the creator of Mighty Jack, and Zita the Spacegirl.
The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley (10+)
Renowned comics creator shares his story as he grew from an eager-to-please boy into a teenage comic book artist and how the DUMBEST idea ever actually became the BEST thing that ever happened to him.
Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce (8+)
Middle school adventures, from homework and hygiene to hilarious pranks—no one quite does sixth grade like Nate and his friends!
Franklin Richards by Chris Eliopoulis (6+)
Marvel’s kiddy version of Franklin and his robot pal H.E.R.B.I.E. head into Reed’s lab for all kinds of fantastic fun. It’s like Calvin and Hobbes with superpowers!
Bird & Squirrel on Fire by James Burks (7+)
Cartoon forest animals throwing a party, with sub-plots on friendship, letting go and having fun. Great character design and compositions make this a compelling series!
Wings of Fire by Tui T Sutherland (9+)
In case her name sounds familiar, it’s because Tui was a contributing author to the bestselling Spirit Animals. Popular with middle-graders, this fast-paced, fantasy series is full of dramatic battle scenes and double-crosses.
Spreading Your Wings by Ariana Abadian-Heifetz (9+)
Two sisters with a lot of questions about the changes their bodies have begun going through, and a myth-busting doctor didi teach girls of all ages about menstrual health in a fun way. Zubaan’s latest offering is quite like Menstrupedia.
Warriors by Erin Hunter (8+)
Inspired by a love of cats and a fascination with the ferocity of the natural world, the author enjoys creating rich mythical explanations for animal behaviour. A three-part manga where Ravenpaw and his BFF Barley must overpower five rogue cats or lose their home for good.
Ramayan by Graphic India (10+)
The Ramayan, retold as a futuristic, post-apocalyptic tale with breath-taking illustrations in a three-part-series. The publishers have also immortalised other epic tales like the Mahabharata.
Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (12+)
Based on Greek and Roman mythology, an action-packed adventure featuring a heroic demi-god, who was a normal kid till he accidentally vaporised his maths teacher, and managed to displease the mighty Zeus.
Piper by Jay Asher and Jessica Freeburg (12+)
A deaf girl, shunned by her village, dreams of finding true love. Then she meets the mysterious Piper, who seems to have a dark past. A retelling of the old fairy tale, with mature themes of truth, guilt and redemption.
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag (8+)
A boy challenges gender roles in this adventurous story, by rather being a witch like the girls in his family, than be a shape-shifter that he’s expected to be. The book is followed by a sequel, The Hidden Witch.
Tiny Titans by Art Baltazar (7+)
Young fans of the DC universe will be delighted to see what life is like for the heroes of Sidekick Elementary as they head into space, get their report cards, transform into monkeys, fall in love and more in this two-part series.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale (8+)
A perceptive memoir by the author, reflecting on her own friendship-troubled elementary school years with honesty and humour. It tackles bullying, childhood anxiety, and growing pains in a heartfelt way.
Anne of Green Gables by Mariah Marsden (7+)
This abridged version of the beloved classic stays true to the spirit of the original book. When the Cuthberts decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. The red-haired troublemaker, Anne, takes Green Gables by storm.
The Clockwork Girl by Sean O’Reilly and Kevin Hanna (9+)
A mad tinkerer brings to life a conscious machine—The Astonishing Clockwork Girl, Tesla. Another grafter creates a mutant boy called Huxley. But these two will not be permitted to love each other, because of the rift between their creators. Romeo and Juliet, AI style.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (10+)
A modern adaptation of the memorable story of three kids journeying across space and time to fight off a dark force and save our universe. This is the first of the ‘Time’ quintet.