Reading with Pictures


October is an exciting month for any YA lit fan, because it includes Teen Read Week! In honor of this annual celebration of young adult literature, YALSA invited book-loving teens all over the world to apply to share their enthusiasm for reading in a guest post for The Hub. Thirty-one talented young writers were chosen, and we’ll be featuring posts from these unique voices all month long. Today’s post is from Ellie Williams from Massachusetts.

I guess it’s my parent’s fault, the reason why I have an unhealthy obsession with words. Although, looking back on it, I suppose it’s my fault too; I didn’t have to like the books that my parents would read to me, but I did. I was always curious about words, and fascinated that writing could be a way to talk without moving my mouth at all. Drawing is sort of the same way, that just with one picture; an author can show the reader what was tucked carefully behind the walls of their heads.

I don’t remember exactly what the first graphic novel that I read was called; I just remember picking it up and being fascinated that you could use both pictures and words to tell a story. It was different for me, and strange. I remember on one occasion, coming into the library for my usual fix, one of my besties, who just so happens to be my favorite librarian, brought me over to a different part of the library that  I guess in my usual blind rampage I had never noticed before. These books had…pictures. I must say I was apprehensive at first; I mean these books were for kids, right? But oh how wrong I was.

BONEOne of the first graphic novels I read was called Bones. I loved not only the writing (it was hilarious) of the author, Jeff Smith, but also his stunningly beautiful drawings. The images in the novels flowed so nicely together that they seemed to paint a picture for me to see. If you aren’t familiar with the Bones series, well I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life.Jeff Smith creates a fictional world completely from scratch that has humans and all kinds of different creatures living in it, including the Bones, which are cute cartoonish white creatures. The series, which is nine volumes long, takes you through the perspective of three particular Bone cousins and the unexpected adventure they go on.

saintsboxersamerican born chineseBones is definitely one of my favorite graphic novel series ever, but there are a few others that I’ve read and loved recently as well. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang had a very unusual story line, but I liked it so much that I actually decided to read some more recent graphic novels that he’s published, including Boxers and the companion, Saints. These two books were also quite…different, but I loved how you couldn’t read just one of them, as both graphic novels connected in their story lines, and you needed the other book to fill in the missing pieces.

akiko1 akiko2akiko3To finish off my list of my favorite graphic novels I’ve ever read, is Akiko by Mark Crilley. Most of you probably aren’t familiar with this particular work as the first issue was probably published a good ten or fifteen years ago, but trust me when I say this is one of the best graphic novels series ever written. Mark Crilley is already a fantastic artist, but throw in several well developed characters and some humorous dialogue and you got yourself a masterpiece. The novels are about this eleven year old girl named Akiko who travels to planets far from Earth. She makes all sorts of new friends, including a robot and one who doesn’t speak English at all. Here on these far away planets she does her best to help in the best ways she can.

brody's ghostBesides, Rick Riordan’s Blood of Olympus, Robin LaFever’s Mortal Heart, and Marie Lu’s The Young Elites–several books that I have been waiting for, it seems, since the beginning of time *eye twitch*–I’ve also been on the lookout for a series that I only recently started called Brody’s Ghost which just so happens to be by the one and only Mark Crilley. I wasn’t always this eager about graphic novels though. In fact, I’ve never been one for trying new things, but I’ve learned that trying new things can be really rewarding, and I am glad that I gave these graphic novels a shot.

–Ellie Williams


Ellie’s the name, reading’s my game. To start with, I guess I should tell you bit about myself. Well I’ll be completely honest with you; I have always been THAT girl. The one that sits in the corner of the room, shy and maybe a little bit odd compared to everyone else; talking had always somehow made me nervous. Instead, I preferred the silent understanding of a book, of the characters that were more real to me than the people that passed by me in the hallways of school. As I grew older I began to read anything I could get my hands on until eventually I realized that I wanted to write; I wanted the thoughts in my head to for once be seen by someone other than myself. So here I sit, typing these words to you. When I’m not obsessing over fictional characters and reading, my hobbies include drawing, playing field hockey (it’s like hockey…but on a fieldJ) and pestering my cat.

One thought on “Reading with Pictures”

  1. I totally agree with Bone! I had heard about it for a while, but I’ve never been into graphic novels and it sounded creepy (is he a skeleton?). When I finally read the first volume (I read them in volumes of three with black & white illustrations) I fell in love!! I have read the prequel and the two other companion books. Bone is definitely my favorite graphic novel series of all time!!! I don’t know how this series has not been picked up for an animated film and/or TV series?!!

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