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21 Children's Graphic Novels to Love from 2021

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

When I was growing up way back when in the 1990s, comics for kids were primarily collections of newspaper comic strips.

(Goodness, that sentence made me feel old!)

I adored those books, but the selection was very limited. Now so many incredible titles come out every year and in every genre imaginable. Maybe you didn't know it, but you're living in the golden age of graphic novels for readers of all ages.

Without further ado...


1. TRULY TYLER (Emmie & Friends series)

Premise: Tyler and Emmie team up on an art project, but each worries how others will view their friendship.

Why you'll love it: On the surface, the premise seems like a classic middle grade story. What makes Truly Tyler so special is how each chapter is written from either Tyler or Emmie's perspective. The artwork even shifts from chapter to chapter to mirror their differing drawing styles. As a writer, I thought the book was extremely clever. As a reader, I was riveted.

Reading age: 8-12

2. The Legend of Auntie Po

Premise: In this historical fiction graphic novel, thirteen-year-old Mei replaces the myth of Paul Bunyan with a heroine she can relate to better. At first, Auntie Po is a figment of Mei's imagination. But soon she is as real as the setting: a logging camp in 1885 where Mei and her father face prejudice for being Chinese.

Why you'll love it: This book's warm watercolor texture welcomes you into a world whose prejudice is no match for Mei's optimism.

Reading age: 8-12 and older

3. Turtle in Paradise

Premise: Set in 1935, Turtle moves to Florida to live with relatives. While there, she befriends a rough-and-ready crew of six year olds who babysit for the neighborhood.

This graphic novel is an adaptation of the novel of the same name.

Why you'll love it: Rarely does a graphic novel feel like a novel. This one does. The artwork is as textured as any description. I'd argue that the dialogue is even richer, with all its dialect, thanks to the art.

Reading age: 8-12 and older

4. Jukebox

Premise: When Shaheen's father goes missing, the only clues to find him are a few vinyl records and a mysterious jukebox that may just be...a time machine.

Why you'll love it: Jukebox does a beautiful job of blending historical fiction with magical realism. Music buffs will enjoy the historical Easter eggs. I also highly recommend the author's debut graphic novel Pashmina.

Reading age: 10-14

5. I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2021

Premise: I Survived is a novel series by Lauren Tarshis that explores historical tragedies from children's perspectives.

A note: Unfortunately, 2021 marked the twentieth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Why you'll love it: The series does a great job of making difficult historical events relatable for children. This book, in particular, balances the tragedy of 9/11 with a storyline that is as joyful and heartfelt as it is tragic.

Reading age: 8-12

6. In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers

Premise: In the Shadow of the Fallen Towers encourages its reader to step back and see a more global perspective of what happened on September 11th. The book jumps from location to location as it recounts what happened on the day of and during the ensuing aftermath.

Why you'll love it: This book is geared more for adults than children, but it felt important to me to include it on this list. For mature readers, it is both a fascinating and cathartic read. It is one of the best graphic novels of the year.

Reading age: 12 and older