When I was a kid, the only non-fiction books I read tended to be when I was assigned a biography project and I would find a very dry, analytical book from the library that was often somewhat outdated. Now I know the error of my ways and love non-fiction, but at the time, my kid brain figured I’d keep non-fiction reading to textbooks. It wasn’t until college I discovered non-fiction graphic novels. The work came to life in vivid drawings, across a variety of art styles, and brought a brand-new energy to these true stories. It’s a great way for kids to learn about history, or memoirs, or even science in an accessible, colorful format. Here’s a list of some of our recent favorites.
by Tori Sharp
Fans of Real Friends and Be Prepared will love this energetic, affecting graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents' divorce.
Tori has never lived in just one world.
Since her parents' divorce, she's lived in both her mom's house and her dad's new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there's school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.
Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.
by Mark Tatulli
As a middle schooler, Mark finds himself on the smaller side of the physical spectrum–being short AND skinny has really wreaked havoc on his confidence. So to end his bullying woes and get the girl–or at least the confidence to talk to the girl–he starts to explore bulking up by way of the miracle cures in the backs of his comics. But his obsession with beefing up is soon derailed by a new obsession: Star Wars, the hottest thing to hit the summer of 1977. As he explores his creative outlets as well as his cures to body image woes, Mark sets out to make his own stamp on the film that he loves.
Mark Tatulli’s graphic memoir debut is a humorous and heartfelt take on body-image, finding a creative outlet, and spending a summer in the 70’s.
by Whit Taylor
by Kazimir Lee
Introduction by Carole Boston Weatherford
This illuminating graphic novel biography about Harriet Tubman sheds new light on one of American history's bravest heroes.
Harriet Tubman did something exceptionally courageous: She escaped slavery. Then she did something impossible: She went back. She underwent some thirteen missions to rescue around seventy enslaved people, using and expanding a network of abolitionists that became known as the Underground Railroad. She spent her life as an activist, speaking out for Black people and women's suffrage.
This modern account of her trip to save her brothers is detailed and authentic. Illustrated with care for the historical record, it offers insight into the life and mind of Tubman, displaying her as a woman with an unshakable desire to break the chains of an unjust society. It is a perfect anti-racist narrative for our times and deepens an understanding of just what freedom means to those who must fight for it.
by Jason Lutes
Illustrated by Nick Bertozzi
Harry Houdini mesmerized a generation of Americans when he was alive, and continues to do so over ninety years since his death. This is a snapshot of The Handcuff King's life, centering on one of his most famous feats. As Houdini prepares for a death-defying leap into the icy Charles River in Boston, biographer Jason Lutes and artist Nick Bertozzi reveal Houdini's life and influence: from the antisemitism Houdini fought all his life, to the adulation of the American public from his hounding by the press, to his loving relationship with his wife Bess from his egoism to his insecurity from his public persona–to the secret behind his most amazing trick! And it's all in graphic form, so it's fresh, original, and unlike anything previously published about this most fascinating of American showmen.
by James Sturm
Illustrated by Rich Tommaso
Baseball Hall of Famer Leroy “Satchel” Paige (1906 – 1982) changed the face of the game in a career that spanned five decades. Much has been written about this larger-than-life pitcher, but when it comes to Paige, fact does not easily separate from fiction. He made a point of writing his own history . . . and then re-writing it. A tall, lanky fireballer, he was arguably the Negro League’s hardest thrower, most entertaining storyteller and greatest gate attraction. Now the Center for Cartoon Studies turns a graphic novelist’s eye to Paige’s story. Told from the point of view of a sharecropper, this compelling narrative follows Paige from game to game as he travels throughout the segregated South.
In stark prose and powerful graphics, author and artist share the story of a sports hero, role model, consummate showman, and era-defining American.
Starting at a new school is scary, especially with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here, she’s different. She’s sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom but anywhere her teacher is in the school—in the hallway . . . in the teacher’s lounge . . . in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different . . . and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?
Victoria Jamieson (Illustrator); Omar Mohamed; Iman Geddy (Illustrator)
A National Book Award Finalist, this remarkable graphic novel is about growing up in a refugee camp, as told by a former Somali refugee to the Newbery Honor-winning creator of Roller Girl.
Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It's an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.
by Molly Bloom
by Marc Sanchez
by Sanden Totten
The creators of the award-winning science podcast for kids, Brains On!, present a humorous, highly illustrated, fact- and fun-filled look at life on Earth— from deep sea creatures and carnivorous plants to the human body and stinky bacteria. Perfect for STEM collections!
Did you ever wonder why jellyfish sting? Or if trees communicate with each other? How about why you can't tickle yourself?
Well hold on to your noggins, because you're about to find out!
Join the creators of the award-winning science podcast Brains On! as they explore the uber-awesome and sometimes gross world of biology—aka the study of living things. Inside these pages, you'll meet animals with superpowers, plants that eat meat, brains that trick you, and tiny microbes that live, well . . . all over you!
Packed with mind-boggling facts and laugh-out-loud jokes, this book promises a brain-bending, jaw-dropping, belly-laughing good time as readers watch the world around them come ALIVE.