Every so often I have a reader who claims he or she only wants to read graphic novels or a patron whose parent or teacher insists they branch out of graphic novels and try a “regular” book.
Just as I like find graphic novels to appeal to reader who say they aren’t for them, I also like to convince tried and true graphic novel fans that there are other types of books they can enjoy reading. Even though I think graphic novels are great and definitely “real” reading and that there’s nothing wrong with preferring that format, I do like to show reluctant readers that there are exciting stories waiting to be discovered inside “regular” novels.
In recent years, there have been a number of great YA novels that feature illustrations, and these books will appeal to fans of graphic novels who like their stories accompanied by pictures. From realistic fiction to fantasy, you can find illustrated novels in all sorts of categories.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness features haunting illustrations (drawn by artist Jim Kay) of the dark fairy tale of a monster in search of the truth.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (2012 Teens’ Top Ten) includes eerie photographs that make this story of an orphanage on a strange island jump off the page.
Laini Taylor‘s short story collection about kisses with consequences, Lips Touch Three Times (2010 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults), is accompanied by beautiful illustrations by her husband, Jim di Bartolo.
Illustrator Keith Thompson collaborated closely with Scott Westerfeld on the Leviathan series to bring the Clankers and the Darwinists to life.
Winger by Andrew Smith is peppered with hilarious comics and funny graphs and charts that break up the text and make this moving and laugh-out-loud funny story of a 14-year-old rugby player’s trials in friendship and love at boarding school all the more endearing.
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz also includes handwritten journal entries as a young man with Asperger’s Syndrome writes solves a mystery and copes with bullies.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2008 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults) features comics drawn by Ellen Forney as well.
Readers who love graphic novels with their favorite comic book characters like Spiderman, Batman, and the Avengers might be enticed to read print-only books about superhero characters. Sidekicks by Jack D. Ferraiolo, The Super Human Trilogy by Michael Owen Carroll, The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell, and Legacy by Thomas E. Sniegoski all feature superheroes and villains to delight fans of comics and graphic novels.
There’s nothing wrong with graphic novels — I’m a new fan myself — but when their readers need to branch out into the world of print, YA novels with illustrations or stories that feature superheroes are great places to start.
— Molly Wetta, currently reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
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