Best Graphics Novels for HS Language Arts

American Born Chinese

by Gene Luen Yang

Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way―if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

March Vol. 1-3

by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper’s farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president.
March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis’ lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.

I Kill Giants

by Joe Kelly, J.M Ken Niimura

I Kill Giants tells the story of Barbara Thorson, an acerbic fifth-grader so consumed with fantasy that she doesn’t just tell people that she kills giants with an ancient Norse warhammer — she starts to believe it herself. The reasons for Barbara’s troubled behavior are revealed through the course of the book, as she learns to reconcile her fantasy life with the real world.

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal

by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona

Marvel Comics presents the all-new Ms. Marvel, the groundbreaking heroine that has become an international sensation! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she’s comin’ for you, New York!

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

by Josh Neufeld

A stunning graphic novel that makes plain the undeniable horrors and humanity triggered by Hurricane Katrina in the true stories of six New Orleanians who survived the storm.

A.D. follows each of the six from the hours before Katrina struck to its horrific aftermath. Here is Denise, a sixth-generation New Orleanian who will experience the chaos of the Superdome; the Doctor, whose unscathed French Quarter home becomes a refuge for those not so lucky; Abbas and his friend Mansell, who face the storm from the roof of Abbas’s family-run market; Kwame, a pastor’s son whose young life will remain wildly unsettled well into the future; and Leo, a comic-book fan, and his girlfriend, Michelle, who will lose everything but each other. We watch as they make the wrenching decision between staying and evacuating. And we see them coping not only with the outcome of their own decisions but also with those made by politicians, police, and others like themselves–decisions that drastically affect their lives, but over which they have no control.

Beowulf

by Gareth Hinds

The epic tale of the great warrior Beowulf has thrilled readers through the ages — and now it is reinvented for a new generation with Gareth Hinds’s masterful illustrations. Grendel’s black blood runs thick as Beowulf defeats the monster and his hideous mother, while somber hues overcast the hero’s final, fatal battle against a raging dragon. Speeches filled with courage and sadness, lightning-paced contests of muscle and will, and funeral boats burning on the fjords are all rendered in glorious and gruesome detail. Told for more than a thousand years, Beowulf’s heroic saga finds a true home in this graphic-novel edition.

Daytripper

by Gabriel Ba, Fabio Moon

Daytripper follows Bras de Olivias Dominguez during different periods in his life, each with the same ending: his death.
Daytripper follows the life of one man, Bras de Olivias Dominguez. Every chapter features an important period in Bras’ life in exotic Brazil, and each story ends the same way: with his death. And then, the following story starts up at a different point in his life, oblivious to his death in the previous issue – and then also ends with him dying again. In every chapter, Bras dies at different moments in his life, as the story follows him through his entire existence – one filled with possibilities of happiness and sorrow, good and bad, love and loneliness. Each issue rediscovers the many varieties of daily life, in a story about living life to its fullest – because any of us can die at any moment.

Monster

by Walter Dean Meyers, Guy A. Sims, Dawud Anyabwile

A stunning black-and-white graphic novel adaptation of Walter Dean Myers’s Michael L. Printz Award winner and New York Times bestseller Monster, adapted by Guy Sims and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
Monster is a multi-award-winning, provocative coming-of-age story about Steve Harmon, a teenager awaiting trial for a murder and robbery. As Steve acclimates to juvenile detention and goes to trial, he envisions the ordeal as a movie. Monster was the first-ever Michael L. Printz Award recipient, an ALA Best Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor selection, and a National Book Award finalist.

My Friend Dahmer

by Derf Backderf

You only think you know this story. In 1991, Jeffrey Dahmer—the most notorious serial killer since Jack the Ripper—seared himself into the American consciousness. To the public, Dahmer was a monster who committed unthinkable atrocities. To Derf Backderf, “Jeff” was a much more complex figure: a high school friend with whom he had shared classrooms, hallways, and car rides. In My Friend Dahmer, a haunting and original graphic novel, writer-artist Backderf creates a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a disturbed young man struggling against the morbid urges emanating from the deep recesses of his psyche—a shy kid, a teenage alcoholic, and a goofball who never quite fit in with his classmates. With profound insight, what emerges is a Jeffrey Dahmer that few ever really knew, and one readers will never forget.

Nimona

by Noelle Stevenson

Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel has been hailed by critics and fans alike as the arrival of a “superstar” talent (NPR.org).
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are.
But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

Maus

by Art Spiegleman

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history’s most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.

Persepolis

by Marjane Satrapi

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.

In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Rendez-vous in Phoenix

by Tony Sandoval

Tony Sandoval was born and raised in northwestern Mexico, where the temptation to cross the border in the US becomes a matter of the heart. Drawn by Love, his urge to visit his American girlfriend can’t wait for the lengthy, frustrating visa process standing in the way of their relationship. So he makes the ultimate romantic gesture: smuggling himself across the border, despite the dangers he’ll face from the heat, coyotes, barbed wire, and – most daunting – the US border patrol…

Strong Female Protagonist

by Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag

With superstrength and invulnerability, Alison Green used to be one of the most powerful superheroes around. Fighting crime with other teenagers under the alter ego Mega Girl was fun — until an encounter with Menace, her mind-reading arch enemy, showed her evidence of a sinister conspiracy, and suddenly battling giant robots didn’t seem so important. Now Alison is going to college and trying to find ways to help the world while still getting to class on time. It’s impossible to escape the past, however, and everyone has their own idea of what it means to be a hero….

Superb Vol. 1: Life After the Fallout

by David F. Walker, Dr. Sheena Howard, Ray-Anthony Height

After a Columbine-like incident in which a superpowered teenager exploded and killed other youngsters, the Foresight Corporation took over Youngstown to find and regulate any other teenagers with emerging powers. Kayla Tate has returned to Youngstown because her parents are scientists for Foresight. Kayla has reunited with her childhood friend, Jonah Watkins, a young man with Down syndrome. Kayla and Jonah are learning about each other again, as a mysterious new superhuman named Cosmosis has become the Internet sensation as the hero of Youngstown. Kayla discovers that Cosmosis . . . is Jonah!

Superman: Red Son

by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Killian Plunkett

Imagine a reality where the world’s most powerful super-being does not grow up in Smallville, Kansas – or even America, for that matter…

Superman: Red Son is a vivid tale of Cold War paranoia, that reveals how the ship carrying the infant who would later be known as Superman lands in the midst of the 1950s Soviet Union. Raised on a collective, the infant grows up and becomes a symbol to the Soviet people, and the world changes drastically from what we know – bringing Superman into conflict with Batman, Lex Luthor and many others.

We Are Robin

by Lee Bermejo, Jorge Corona, Khary Randolph, Carmine Di Giandomenico

In a Gotham City ravaged by the Joker, Batman alone is not enough to keep the peace-and just one Robin isn’t nearly enough to back him up. Now, teenagers who want to make a difference are coming together in droves and adopting the “R.” They’re not a gang. They’re not sidekicks.

They are Robin.

A Wrinkle In Time: Graphic Novel

by Madeliene L’Engle, Hope Larson

The world already knows Meg and Charles Wallace Murry, Calvin O’Keefe, and the three Mrs―Who, Whatsit, and Which―the memorable and wonderful characters who fight off a dark force and save our universe in the Newbery Award–winning classic A Wrinkle in Time. But in 50 years of publication, the book has never been illustrated. Now, Hope Larson takes the classic story to a new level with her vividly imagined interpretations of tessering and favorite characters, like the Happy Medium and Aunt Beast. Perfect for delighting old fans and winning over new ones, this graphic novel adaptation is a must-read.