New Middle Grade Graphic Novels to Read in 2023
When I first actively started reading middle grade books, I told myself I could never read graphic novels. I thought of them as lacking substance and somehow lesser books. Fast forward two years and I’m always searching for new middle grade graphic novels to read! The format is accessible, engaging, and often features stories with depth.
If you’re like (the new) me, you’ll be happy to pre-order or purchase these 10 new middle grade graphic novels out in 2023. Some of these books are graphic memoirs while others are fiction spanning a wide breadth of genres including sports, fantasy, realistic fiction, and more.
Here are 10 engaging middle grade graphic novels releasing in 2023:
A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat
In this utterly charming graphic memoir, author and illustrator Dan Santat shares the details of a pivotal middle school trip to Europe. Shy and socially awkward, Dan constantly feels out of place in middle school and is occasionally bullied by some girls in his class. But in Europe, the world opens up as he sips Fanta, tries fondue, climbs the Eiffel Tower, and falls in love–all for the first time.
Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang
After the best vacation in the US, three Taiwanese siblings are shocked to hear that they’ll be staying on without their parents (as undocumented immigrants). The youngest, Feng-Li feels especially lost as her big brother and sisters can’t seem to stop bickering. As the kids weather everything from scammers to the INS and learning a new language, can they find their way in a new country? This graphic novel is moving and eye-opening.
Hoops by Matt Tavares
It’s the 1970s and young Judi loves basketball, but can’t play at school because there’s no girls’ team–until Title IX. When her school starts the girls’ basketball team, Judi leaves cheerleading to play for them, which hurts her best friend and fellow cheerleader’s feelings. But with little to funding, playing and winning games is no piece of cake for the girls. This exhilarating graphic novel, based on a true story, documents the trials and triumphs of women in sports.
Two Tribes by Emily Bowen Cohen
Mia lives with her mom and stepdad who are a Jewish family, but she feels out place and yearns to know her father’s Muscogee family better. Since her mom won’t let her, she uses her Bat Mitzvah money to buy a bus ticket to Tulsa, Oklahoma where her father’s family lives. As she learns more about the history and culture of Native Americans, Mia knows she has to find a way to blend both her Jewish and Native heritage to be truly herself. This graphic novel sheds light on Native American culture and history and the power of being entirely oneself.
Fox Point’s Own Gemma Hopper by Brie Spangler
Gemma’s life is tougher than it should be for a 12 year old. She goes to school by day, but spends the rest of the day helping her baseball prodigy brother practice and taking care of her twin baby brothers while her dad works overtime to make ends meet. One day, a video of Gemma throwing her brother a serious curveball on the pitch goes viral and suddenly the family realizes that Gemma has more baseball potential than they realized. This heartwarming graphic novel is an ode to baseball and family.
Four Eyes by Rex Ogle
Rex is thrilled to be starting middle school, but his expectations turn sour when his best friend ditches him for the popular crowd and he can’t seem to see the board during class. To top it all off, he becomes a target for bullies. Things worsen when Rex has to get glasses. Mix in strained family finances, an unsupportive father, and a budding crush and Rex is set for an interesting sixth grade. I loved this relatable graphic novel.
Lo and Behold by Wendy Mass & Gabi Mendes
Young Addie encounters virtual reality when her dad’s summer job moves them across the country. She also makes a new friend named Mateo and as she and Mateo explore the world through a VR headset, Addie finds a way to confront the challenging parts of her life–including a parent who’s dealing with addiction.
Doodles from the Boogie Down by Stephanie Rodriguez & Andrea Bell
Set in the early 2000s, Steph lives in New York City with her strict, overprotective Dominican mother. As she applies to high schools, Steph’s mother wants her to go to a Catholic high school, but Steph is eyeing an art high school. Can Steph help her mother see the value of her art and the promise of a future as an artist? This semi-autobiographical graphic novel is perfect for fans of Alyssa Bermudez’ Big Apple Diaries.
Ink Girls by Marieke Nijkamp & Sylvia Bi
This fantasy graphic novel follows 11-year-old Cinzia, a printer’s apprentice in sunny Siannerra, a bustling, powerful city, where the ruling family encourages science and arts. When her master is arrested for sedition, Cinzia must join forces with the king’s granddaughter to rescue her master. This fast-paced adventure leaps off the pages.
Squished by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter
Young Avery is feeling squished at home with her parents and six siblings, four of which she has to help out with often. When her older brother gets his own room instead of Avery, she’s crushed and makes a plan to get a room of her own. Unfortunately, life throws a hitch in her plans when she finds out her family might be moving across the country soon. Beautiful illustrations and a relatable protagonist make this story a delight.
Which new middle grade graphic novel will you be reading?
Afoma is a writer, editor, voracious reader, and graphic novel aficionado. She blogs about middle grade books (and other kinds of books) at readingmiddlegrade.com