Give the Gift of Graphic Novels!
By Tiffany Harkleroad
Chances are, you are preparing for the rapidly approaching holidays. And chances are, there is at least one person on your shopping list who is impossible to shop for.
Well, I am here to help with that holiday headache with the suggestion of a non-perishable, one-size-fits-all, no-assembly-required gift idea- GRAPHIC NOVELS.
You do not know about graphic novels? Well, lucky for you, I am here to help. A graphic novel is basically exactly what it sounds like, a book that is in graphic form, namely in the form of comic strips or panels.
A lot of times, when people hear graphic novels, they automatically think of superhero comics, and that certainly makes up a substantial subset of graphic novels.
However, there are all different kinds of graphic novels, fiction, non-fiction, and biographies, covering all different literary genres, such as fantasy, romance, historical fiction, even true crime!
Basically, whatever type of books a person likes to read, there are graphic novels to fit that interest.
Who reads graphic novels?
Another appealing thing about graphic novels is that they are available for all different ages of readers. In fact, I have found a recent increase in the number of graphic novels targeted to early elementary readers.
I love this trend, because graphic novels are a great resource for encouraging struggling or reluctant readers. I see so many kids who “hated” reading until they discovered graphic novels.
So, now that I have (hopefully) sold you on how great graphic novels are for gift giving, let me tell you about some specific titles that I recommend!
For early readers
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton (2016). This is an adorable book about a narwhal who meets a jellyfish while swimming in the sea. They both try to prove to each other that they are real, and become friends in the process. This story is engaging, and the visual style is really soothing. This is the first in the “Narwhal and Jelly” series, so readers can follow the further adventures of this dynamic duo!
Teen Titans Go Volume 1: Party, Party!, by Sholly Fisch (2015). Teen Titans Go is a popular franchise focusing on super hero characters Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, and Starfire. The story lines are giggle inducing for all ages. Again, this is the first in a series, which is a great way to hook readers long term!
For middle grades readers
Phoebe & Her Unicorn, by Dana Simpson (2014). First of
all, unicorns are all the rage right now, and this book is
sure to be a hit with any young reader who loves glitter, magic, and unicorns. This book, which is the first in a
series of the same name, focuses on a lonely little girl named Phoebe who meets a unicorn named Marigold,
and declares them to be best friends. The humor is witty
and wry, the illustrations are bright and colorful, and I
mean, come on, it’s unicorns!
Smile, by Raina Telgemeir (2010). In this graphic novel memoir, we meet Raina when she is in middle school. She struggles with typical middle school issues, like pesky siblings, frenemies, and worst of all, braces. This book is perfect for readers dealing with the tricky terrain of tweendom.
For young adult readers
Ms. Marvel: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson (2014). Full disclosure, this is one of the few superhero series that I absolutely adore. In this first installment of the Ms. Marvel franchise, we meet Kamala Khan, a young girl from New Jersey. We follow her journey as she discovers her superhuman abilities, and how she chooses to use them.
The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang (2018). In this beautifully drawn story, we meet a prince named Sebastian, and learn that he has a secret he is keeping from his family. When he meets Frances, a dressmaker, he makes a friend and ally in his secret endeavors. Using a fairy tale format, this story teaches readers about acceptance and unconditional love.
For adult readers
Rat Queens Volume 1: Sass & Sorcery, by Kurtis J. Wiebe (2014). If you are a fan of fantasy, role playing games, and strong female characters, this is the perfect series for you. We meet an all-female adventuring party who will kick butt first, and take names later. This is the first in a totally amazing series.
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story, by Jeff Jensen (2015). This is a true crime graphic novel detailing the crimes of the Green River Killer and his subsequent arrest. The story is written by Jeff Jensen, who is the son of the detective Tom Jensen, the man responsible for catching the Green River Killer. While the topic may be a bit bleak, the storytelling is masterful.
So, friends, as you can see by the wide range of topics covered in just these few recommended reads, there really is a graphic novel out there for everyone!
I could go on and on about numerous “bingable” series, but honestly, I do not want to keep you much longer. I want you to go out, right now, to your local library, and check out some graphic novels. I promise you, it is an entirely new reading experience.
Tiffany Harkleroad is the Youth Services
Librarian at the Butler Area Public Library, in Butler PA. She has long championed graphic novels for readers of all ages. She lives in Butler with her husband, their two adorable dogs, and their very cranky cat. When not reading graphic novels, she can be found playing board games, binging on documentaries, listening to podcasts, and taking long naps.