Great Graphic Novels for Teens is a list of recommended graphic novels and illustrated nonfiction for those ages 12-18, prepared yearly by YALSA. The full 2019 list can be found here.
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation by Anne Frank and Ari Folman. Illus. by David Polonsky.
This is the first graphic edition of Anne Frank’s diary; a young girls poignant writings during her years of hiding in Amsterdam. This beautiful retelling is a feast for the eyes. Anne Frank’s story, already so powerful and unforgettable is brought to life in full color. Even if you have read and reread her story, you will be drawn to this new version.
Crush by Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author.
Perfectly capturing the challenges of friendship drama and the anguish of first crushes in middle school, this is the story of Jorge Ruiz, sweet, gentle, and strong, who is crushing on Jazmine, strong, kind, and intelligent. Jorge must navigate his friendships and romantic interests and the drama that ensues.
Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt With Family Addiction by Jarrett Krosoczka. Illus. by the author.
A memoir about being raised by grandparents and finding art as a way of communicating and self-expression while dealing with family addiction and absenteeism.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin. Illus. by Giovanni Rigano.
Ebo’s older sister left Ghana and now his brother has disappeared, leaving a note saying he’s taking the arduous journey to Europe to seek a better life. Alone and refusing to be left behind, Ebo catches up with his brother so they can make the trip together, living on the streets, negotiating with human smugglers, and struggling to survive.
My Brother’s Husband, Volume 2 by Gengoroh Tagame. Illus. by the author.
Yaichi has been struggling to fully understand and accept his brother’s husband, Mike. Spending time together during Mike’s visit to Japan, Yaichi and his daughter realize just how important he is to their family.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. Illus. by the author.
Mia becomes the newest member on a ship that travels through space reconstructing historical ruins for new use. Though quiet and unsure of herself, she fits in with the crew and eventually reveals her true purpose for taking the job; finding her lost love.
Royal City, Volume 2: Sonic Youth by Jeff Lemire. Illus. by the author.
In volume one, the story of the Pike family is set up with older brother Patrick Pike returning to his childhood home in the wake of his father’s stroke and his brother’s death. In this volume, the reader is taken back to the year 1993, following the then-teenaged Pike siblings and glimpsing the last week of Tommy Pike’s life.
Royal City, Volume 3: We All Float On by Jeff Lemire. Illus. by the author.
The final volume of this series brings readers a thoughtful and unique exploration of loss, grief, family, and acceptance.
Silver Spoon Volumes 1, 2, 3, & 4 by Hiromu Arakawa. Illus. by the author.
Yuugo Hachiken has always been a great student, but instead of going to a regular academic high school, he decides to enroll in Ooezo Agricultural High School instead. This city boy was hoping to coast through high school, and an agricultural school is sure to be easy, right? Wrong! Instead of doing math problems, and reciting poetry, he’s waking up at 5AM to do chores, raise piglets and learn to ride a horse.
Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson. Illus. by Emily Carroll.
Melinda is shunned at school because she called the cops at a summer party, but what everyone doesn’t know is that she was sexual assaulted there. In this beautifully illustrated graphic adaptation of the original novel, Melinda works on coming to terms with what happened to her and learning how to speak about it.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. Illus. by the author.
This minimalist text takes a journalistic approach to describing the political and social implications of the Syrian refugee crisis It features the stories of individual refugees, while also focusing on local and global trends contributing to the crisis.