Sunday, June 30, 2013

Your Choice: Summer Reading Suggestions for Kids of All Ages

With early summer intersecting with ABC Wednesday's "Y" week, I thought I would put together some of my favorite graphic novels for fun summer reading for all young adults (middle school) and older.

But, before getting to the list, a few notes:

First: I limited the reading suggestions to those books (or sequels) having come out over the past year.  There are plenty other perfectly spectacular summer reads available and you may want to check these links for more great reads:

Second: This past week I came upon an info-graphic that I think absolutely and unquestionably demonstrates the power of visual messages.  I have it posted below my reading suggestions and it is well-worth a scroll-though.  It is a visual flow chart of suggested summer reading for young adults middle-school and older.  While I wish I could present my choices in the same manner, I am just not tech-savvy enough. So I give you a view and a choice.  You have two different summer reading lists to chose from.

Note that while the info-graphic covers classic of all sorts, my list focuses on graphic novels, demonstrating that there is quality reading to be had by kids of ALL AGES, and ALL TASTES.

Enjoy and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.


The City of Ember: The Graphic NovelThe City of Ember: The Graphic Novel by Jeanne DuPrau, Adapted by Dallas Middaugh, Art by Niklas Asker (fiction,coming of age; Random House, 2012 ages 8+).  This story is adapted from its original prose text. This story opens with a two-page introduction showing you a small city lit at night and informing us that, "It is written in the book of the City of Ember that Ember was made long ago...Beyond Ember, the darkness goes on forever in all directions..."  Chapter 1: Assignment Day shows the Mayor of Ember having the "Highest Class" of students picking lots from a bag thus deciding the jobs and adult roles they will be assuming once out of school.  The art is spectacular and helps set the stage of a dysfunctional doomed world whose hope lies in the hands of Doon and Lina. Here is a link for a Chapter Sampler And if you like this, you might want to go on to read its original prose version and/or to read Lois Lowry's The Giver.

Rust by Royden Lepp (fiction/fantasy, coming-of-age; Archaia ages 8+)  While there are now two Rust books, it appears there will be four volumes and a possible movie with 20th Century Fox. Both volumes are brilliantly illustrated in sepia tone which gives the story a Dust Bowl and post World War I feeling; both are in hardcover. Each books open up with war scenes between jet-propelled 'boys,' large 30-foot mechanical drone monstrosities, and men; and while both contain a super-hero aspect, the story is more about family than war, robots, or superheroes. In both books, Roman (and in the second book Roman's little brother Oswald) write letters to their dad who is still away (we assume at war), and both books emphasize Roman and Oswald's sense of responsibility to the farm, family and to each other. This is a compelling story of discovery, war, responsibility, and empowerment making readers think about the characters, their stories, and the challenges of "coming of age."For more, please read this Review of Rust detailing each book and containing teaching and book group discussion suggestions.

Little White Duck by Na Liu and Andres Vera Martinez (China History, non-fiction; Graphic Universe, 2012 ages 8+) is a collection of eight moving stories based on the author's life of her childhood in China during the 1970' and 80's.  Here is an excerpt of a review from The New York Times ( "A Child's View of China" November 9, 2012 by Gene Luen Yang)
"...What Liu and Martínez do is convey a child’s-eye view of a country in transition. Politics, culture and history play into their stories, but the reader’s awareness of them is a child’s awareness. The mural of Mao and the ancient gods and the colorful posters encouraging patriotic behavior are probably important, but fireworks, schemes to catch rats and pretty jackets with soft little white duck-shaped patches are so much more interesting."

XOC by Matt Dembicki (non-fiction; environment and animals; ONI Press, all ages) follows the journey of a great white shark from the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco to Hawaii and back. The author uses prose and alliteration as he describes the life of a female shark and the perils (natural and man-made) she must face on her journey to spawn her pup. For more on XOC along with information on great white sharks and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, please see XOC. A companion book might be I'm Not a Plastic Bag by Rachel Hope-Allison (Archaia, All Ages) is a wordless graphic novel that illustrates human impact on our oceans as it follows a used plastic bag that begins as refuse on the top of a leafless tree in the city and ends up as part of The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Silence of Our Friends (history, social rights, ages 10+) by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos and Nate Powell (First Second Books, Grades 6+) - a true story about a while male reporter and his family living in Texas during the Civil Rights Movement. The father must make career and life choices while trying to do the 'right thing.' The struggles of segregation and the Civil Rights movement are clearly and sensitively depicted.

Cardboard by Doug TenNapel (fiction; Graphix, 2012; ages 8+) Cam's dad gives him a cardboard box for his low can you go? But, he loves his dad and appreciates the thought. So, to make the best of a sad situation, they begin folding the box and bending it into a man. Cam's amazement, it comes magically to life. There's just one more catch. Marcus, the local bully warps the cardboard creature into is own evil Threatening creations...And if you like this, and want to read more...look into into Golem stories.

Poseidon by George O'Connor (Greek mythology; First Second Books; ALL ages)  is the fifth volume of the Olympian Series - an outstanding series retelling the stories of the Greek gods.  In this volume, O'Connor tells the story of Poseidon, brother of Zeus, son of Kronos and Rhea, "ruler of the seas and creator of storms, tempests, and tsunamis that shake the earth." This book has breath-taking art and story-telling, a detailed Greek god family tree to help us mere mortals follow their royal lineage, Greek Geek notes, discussion points, and links for extra reading. Aside from O'Connor's other books you might also want to read  D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myth's.  Please see Poseidon: Earth Shaker for more details, teaching and discussion suggestions.

Gunnerkirgg Court by Thomas Siddell (fantasy, coming of age; Archaia; ages 10+) Note that while Archaia Books have published three volumes, Gunnerkrigg Court can also be found online at and it is an ongoing online graphic novel (updated every few days). Siddell tells the story of Antimony Carver, a young girl who joins Gunnerkrigg Court mid-year after her mother has died.  It is a mysterious school with a VERY diverse student body. Students and instructors are embroiled in mystery and political intrigue between "the Court" and Gillitie Wood, and clearly Antimony has some very special gifts that lead her to the center of the story.

Jerusalem by Boax Yakin and Nick Bertozzi (non-fiction, history, memoir; First Second Books; ages 10+) follows the Yakin's family history living in Jerusalem 1940-1948, a time of chaos, war, and the making of a nation. The story begins with the British Mandate giving way to a United Nations Partition Plan that then gives way to civil conflicts and the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. It follows Yakin's family's history while following the history of Jerusalem as its characters wrestle with ideals, faith and hopes. The issue of Jerusalem and Statehood are detailed on a personal yet objective level. While showing a city divided, it also shows a family divided by ideals and how these ideals motivate them in very different directions.

Pantalones, TX: Don't Chicken Out by Yehudi Mercado (fiction, humor; Archaia; All Ages) is simply a lot of fun. It is the story of Chico  Bustamante, a kid living in the small "one horse town" (that literally only can afford one horse) of Pantalones, Texas known only for being the town where underwear was "invented." It is also the town where an 'evil' sheriff is also the owner of the Chicken Shack, and as the school's Principal and teacher, and holds school in the town's jail.  Chico is determined to be the bad-a** kid who is added to the Texas history books along with Annie Oakley (who "shot the lone start before it crashed to earth"), Paul Bunyan (who "wrestled two giant blue oxen in the First Texas Smackdown"), John  Henry (who "battled a radioactive runaway train"), Pecos Bill and Johnny Appleseed (known for- well you'll just have to read for yourself). The town also has to deal with "foreigners" from New York.  It is fun as a read-aloud or quick read for all ages and a great place to start learning the 'truth' about American folk-tale heroes.

Barona's War: Field Guide and Barona's War: Fight for Amity by Anthony Coffey and Jesse Labbe (fiction, fantasy; Archaia; ages 13+). The first book, Barona's War: Field Guide is literally a field guide introducing the peoples, weapons and topography of Barona. Readers are introduced to the various scouts, soldiers, and weapons of two very cute (but aggressive) fur-covered races (the Ela-Alta and the Corpones) who are waging war over Amity which lies between their two nations. Barona's War: Fight for Amity is part prose, part poetry, and part graphic novel that honestly depicts the trials and horrors of war and is therefore recommended for readers ages 13 and older. For an introduction and animated preview, please see this YouTube clip:

 PART II: SUMMER READING SUGGESTIONS INFO-GRAPHIC: Note I found this at and the link is worth a visit if you have time.

Summer Reading Flowchart

Personally, I love this info-graphic and its built-in decision tree and cover guide.

That's it for now.
Thank you for your visit and please leave your own favorite summer reading suggestions in the comments. 


  1. Good idea to put together a graphic novel reading list. I also love the info graphic. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

  2. Yes, the Daughter needs some ideas! Maybe she'll glom on to some of these...

  3. A wonderful chart for the library - wonderful choices for summer reading.

  4. Those are great suggestions! I think Princess Nagger would enjoy some of those - she's 10, but is an advanced reader, so sometimes it's hard to find 'appropriate' books for her age, but matches her mentality. If that makes sense. :)

    4th of July Non-Plans, Size Matters, Princess Nagger the Packing Queen, and Talking ’bout Boobs – Random Tuesday Thoughts Rebel

    1. Makes absolute sense... I had three of my own. My son read Dante's Inferno in sixth grade because he heard it influenced Philip Pullman's "Amber Spyglass" trilogy... You should definitely have her check out the books on the list. They are all outstanding options. Let me know if/when she reads them.

  5. This is quite a collection! How long did it take you to post this?! Kate, ABC Team

  6. Summer reading is the best! Love the info charts for the types of books you should read :)

  7. Last year I took a graphic novel workshop and I learned so much about a genre which previously had been my least favourite for children/youth/young adults. At my book store I am now confident about recommending most as quality reading material. I think the Adventures of Tintin graphic novels series is particularly wonderful. Thanks for providing such a great chart.

  8. Both of these lists are great! I am starting a new link-up party this week for all things book and reading related on my blog, Mommynificent. I'd love to have you join us with this post and any others you'd like to share. Hope to see you at Booknificent Thursday this week and every week!
    Tina @ Mommynificent

  9. Thanks for all the great titles!