Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2019

Vince Zalkind, Messenger Clerk, North Hollywood Amelia Earhart Regional Library,
Comics creators at the North Hollywood library
L to R: Author and Illustrator Molly Ostertag, Illustrator Katy Farina, Author and Illustrator Mildred Louis, Author and Illustrator Jen Wang, LAPL Staff Vincent Zalkind, Author and Publisher Shannon Watters and Illustrator Rian Sygh. From a comics event at the North Hollywood Branch Library

Each year the Young Adult Library Services Association, or YALSA, creates an annotated list of recommended graphic novels appropriate for teen readers. This list is created annually by a mix of both school and public librarians who have backgrounds in graphic novel collection development. It's a great resource for librarians and teachers and the teens they serve. They use the list to help them choose new titles to include in their collections. Said this year's chair Tina Lernø, "This selection of 138 outstanding comics, graphic novels, and manga represent the best titles of the year for teens; titles that are authentic and inclusive. We hope they'll find stories that resonate with them." This year’s selections include many great books with diverse LGBTQIA characters (including some titles written and illustrated by local Los Angeles creators like Rian Sygh, Julia Kaye, Jen Wang, and Tillie Walden). Here are some standouts:

The Bride Was A Boy by Chii shows the complex life of a trans individual in Japan, telling the autobiographical story of Chii’s gender transition and the effect it has on her romance.

I Hear the Sunspot: Theory of Happiness by Yuki Fumino follows two young men, Taichi and Kohei, as they dance around their feelings for each other.

High school hijinks abound in the cartoonish series The Backstagers written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Rian Sygh. This series is about a stage crew at an all-boys school and the magical world behind the curtain.

Julia Kaye’s sweet and relatable auto-biographical comic, Super Late Bloomer, details the early months of her transition and how she learned to be her most wholly authentic self.

Travel back in time with Jen Wang’s The Prince and The Dressmaker. This beautifully illustrated graphic novel tells of a prince who is secretly taking Paris by storm as Lady Crystallia with help from his best friend (and secret weapon) a dressmaker named Frances.

Whether you’re new to graphic novels or have read comics for years, this list has something for everyone. Happy reading!

YALSA’s Top Ten List for 2019

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation
Folman, Ari

This is the first graphic edition of Anne Frank's diary; a young girls poignant writings during her years of hiding in Amsterdam. This beautiful retelling is a feast for the eyes. Anne Frank's story, already so powerful and unforgettable is brought to life in full color. Even if you have read and reread her story, you will be drawn to this new version.

Chmakova, Svetlana

Perfectly capturing the challenges of friendship drama and the anguish of first crushes in middle school, this is the story of Jorge Ruiz, sweet, gentle, and strong, who is crushing on Jazmine, strong, kind, and intelligent. Jorge must navigate his friendships and romantic interests and the drama that ensues.

Hey, Kiddo
Krosoczka, Jarrett

A memoir about being raised by grandparents and finding art as a way of communicating and self-expression while dealing with family addiction and absenteeism.

Colfer, Eoin

Ebo's older sister left Ghana and now his brother has disappeared, leaving a note saying he's taking the arduous journey to Europe to seek a better life. Alone and refusing to be left behind, Ebo catches up with his brother so they can make the trip together, living on the streets, negotiating with human smugglers, and struggling to survive.

My Brother's Husband Vol. 2
Tagame, Gengoroh

Yaichi has been struggling to fully understand and accept his brother's husband, Mike. Spending time together during Mike's visit to Japan, Yaichi and his daughter realize just how important he is to their family.

On a Sunbeam
Walden, Tillie

Mia becomes the newest member on a ship that travels through space reconstructing historical ruins for new use. Though quiet and unsure of herself, she fits in with the crew and eventually reveals her true purpose for taking the job; finding her lost love.

Royal City, Volume 2: Sonic Youth
Lemire, Jeff

In volume one, the story of the Pike family is set up with older brother Patrick Pike returning to his childhood home in the wake of his father's stroke and his brother’s death. In this volume, the reader is taken back to the year 1993, following the then-teenaged Pike siblings and glimpsing the last week of Tommy Pike's life.

Royal City, Volume 3: We All Float On
Lemire, Jeff

The final volume of this series brings readers a thoughtful and unique exploration of loss, grief, family, and acceptance.

Speak: The Graphic Novel
Anderson, Laurie Halse

Melinda is shunned at school because she called the cops at a summer party, but what everyone doesn't know is that she was sexual assaulted there. In this beautifully illustrated graphic adaptation of the original novel, Melinda works on coming to terms with what happened to her and learning how to speak about it.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
Brown, Don

YALSA Award winner for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. An award for the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.

See the complete list.