Happy Children’s Book Week! The 2015 edition of Children’s Book Week launched on Saturday on Free Comic Book Day, and now that kids around the country have gotten a taste of comics, we want to recommend a few more! In this edition of CBLDF’s week-long feature, we have some more suggestions for readers in Grades 7-8.
The age groups here are suggested by the publishers of the books, but they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages! Keep in mind that every reader is an individual, so parents are best suited to make decisions about what is appropriate for their own children. Just because a book is labelled with specific ages, that doesn’t mean a younger reader — or even grown up kids! — won’t find something to enjoy.
Let’s take a look…
This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
First Second Books • Suggested for ages 12-18
Earlier this year, This One Summer rocked the publishing, library, and literary world by being the first graphic novel to receive the Caldecott Honor for “Most Distinguished American Picture Book for Children” and the Printz Honor for “Excellence in Literature for Young Adults.” Told in warm prose and exquisite monochromatic blue images, This One Summer delicately balances the nostalgic power of summer traditions with the often harsh and intruding lessons of life. It embraces readers of all ages as two tween girls, local townie teens, and one set of parents all tangle in the delicate balances of friendships and relationships, grapple with the pains of growing up, deal with the torments of depression and of wanted and unwanted pregnancies, and cope with the heartbreaks and hopes of life. This One Summer has received outstanding praise and unprecedented honors for its stunning art and thoughtful, sensitive content.
The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa
First Second Books • Suggested for ages 12+
Kim Dong Hwa is a widely popular Korean comic artist. In the Color Trilogy, Dong Hwa tenderly tells the story of his mother’s growth into womanhood, as he imagined it might have been. This story is an incredible blend of prose, poetry, and penciled art. It is a story about young Ehwa’s growing curiosity about sex, puberty, and relationships. Based on Ehwa’s observations and interactions with friends, nature, and the villagers around her, she has wonderfully frank discussions with her mother, who tactfully and sensitively opens the world up for Ehwa.
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: The Color of Earth Trilogy
- Case Study: The Color of Earth
- Graphic Novel The Color of Earth Is Second Most Frequently Challenged Book of 2011
I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura
I Kill Giants is an empowering story about fifth-grader Barbara Thorson, a precocious Dungeons and Dragons player, who is currently devoting most of her time (in and out of school) to fighting giants. Barbara is a reluctant but fearless hero, and her battle with giants and titans mirror epic battles of myth. Through the text and images, we struggle along with Barbara — through her tantrums, her trips to the principal and school counselor, and her conversations with imps and faeries, and through her fights with bullies and her older sister — to her critical battle with an equally fearless titan.
I Kill Giants, by Joe Kelly and JM Ken Niimura, won the IGN Best of 2008, was voted one of the 10 Best Comics of 2009 by New York magazine’s Dan Kois; was a YALSA (Young Adult Library Association) 2010 Top Ten Great Graphic Novel for Teens, and won the Gold Award at the 5th International Manga Awards in 2012.
March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Top Shelf • Suggested for ages 13+
March: Book One begins the trilogy of Representative John Lewis’s graphic novel memoir, co-written with his aide Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. The book recounts Congressman Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama and provides a wonderful window into what life was like for Black families in the 1940s and 1950s under Jim Crow and segregation laws. Lewis’ first-person narrative allows him to reminisce as he revisits his past, while the prose and art give us the feeling that we, too, are reliving this tumultuous time in American history along with him. Together, we are introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words and speeches, and we learn of the birth of the Nashville Student Movement and their non-violent struggle to eliminate segregation through their lunch counter sit-ins and their trips to prison and City Hall. We learn of Lewis’ first meeting with Dr. King and about the Supreme Court school desegregation decision of Brown v. The Board of Education. We learn about the case of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi, of Rosa Parks and Jim Lawson and F.O.R. (Fellowship of Reconciliation), the last of which published Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a comic book that deeply influenced Lewis and so many more.
March: Book Two by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Top Shelf • Suggested for ages 13+
March: Book Two details the real-life heroes of the 1960s, from the Civil Rights leaders of SNCC and the SCLC to the black and white protesters who risked life and limb for what was right. In Book Two, Lewis’s story continues with the events that took place on November 10, 1960, in Nashville, Tennessee, as “…our young organization had successfully ended segregation at the lunch counters downtown and turned its attention to fast food restaurants and cafeterias using the same strategy.” It then continues with events that took place in the South between 1960 -1963, culminating with the March on Washington on August 28, 1963.
This list represents just a few of the amazing kids comics waiting to be discovered by middle school readers. We’ll be featuring more throughout the week, so keep returning to CBLDF.org for more! If you can’t wait, visit your local library or view the latest edition of Raising a Reader! How Comics & Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love To Read! for additional resources.
Children’s Book Week (May 4 – 10, 2015), the annual celebration of books for young people and the joy of reading, was established in 1919 and is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Every year commemorative events are held nationwide at schools, libraries, bookstores, homes, and now comic book stores! On May 2, Free Comic Book Day led off the celebration of Children’s Book Week at more than 2,000 comic book specialty stores, which will be giving away millions of free kids comics! To learn more about Children’s Book Week, and how you can join the fun, please visit www.bookweekonline.com. Check out official events from coast to coast at www.bookweekonline.com/official. For a list of comic book shops participating in Children’s Book Week events, visit CBLDF’s websitehere. To learn more about Free Comic Book Day, please visit www.freecomicbookday.com.
Celebrate the freedom to read comics for all ages and CBLDF’s important First Amendment work by visiting the Rewards Zone, making a donation, or becoming a member of CBLDF!
Book descriptions courtesy of CBLDF contributor Meryl Jaffe. All images (c) their respective creators.