What We Read for Comic Book Club

Read FeedTenley-Friendship Library

What We Read for Comic Book Club

Recommended comic books for late elementary schoolers

Last school year, I was lucky enough to host a comic book club for a group of bright, enthusiastic 4th grade girls. They were a lively, talkative bunch, but as far as comics went, we had a mix of long-time comic fans and “newbies” in our numbers.
At the end of each meeting, I let my members pick, out of three choices, what comic we would read for the next one. I tried to include a representation of genres in the selection pool - fantasy, realistic fiction, and a few somewhere in-between. As a result, I think by the end of the year everyone had read a comic book they enjoyed. This list is by no means comprehensive, but may be a good place to start if you’re looking to recommend a comic to a late elementary schooler or start a kid’s comic book club of your own.

The Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi. We started off the year reading volume 1 and 2 of Amulet, an edge-of-your-seat fantasy-adventure series about 12-year-old Emily, her little brother Navin, and a family secret that’s out-of-this-world - literally. While exploring their new home, Emily and Navin discover a mysterious amulet in their great-grandfather’s study. When Emily puts it on, she finds herself capable of extraordinary powers - which she quickly needs to call upon when their mother is kidnapped into an underground world! Action-packed, this fantasy title is set in a captivating world furnished with equal parts magic and technology. The story went over well with readers who were also fans of high-stakes fantasy series, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

El Deafo by Cece Bell. Using cute cartoon bunnies, El Deafo tells Bell’s story of growing up with significant hearing loss. The summer before she starts first grade, Cece is forced to leave a special school for deaf and hard-of-hearing children and attend a regular public school. Cece’s afraid her fellow first graders will see her as “the deaf girl” instead of just “Cece” - especially with the giant hearing aid she has to wear at school!  A charming coming-of-age story filled with humor and adorable illustrations, my club members enjoyed reading about Cece’s unique experience with hearing loss and related to her struggles making new friends.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier. El Deafo was such a resounding hit with everyone that another autobiographical comic won the vote for the following month. Sisters is the latest bestselling comic-memoir from Raina Telgemeier, the author and artist of Drama and Smile. Middle school is never easy, but when you and your sister don’t get along (and you live in an apartment too small for a family of five and sometimes your parents don’t even get along), it can be even harder. Telgemeier always hits the nail on the head when it comes to the  humor and hardship of being a preteen girl - this time, she also strikes true when it comes to family matters.

Princeless #1: Save Yourself written by Jeremy Whitley; illustrated by M. Goodwin. We returned to the world of fantasy again, but this time, it came garnished with satire. Wry and dauntless Princess Adrienne doesn’t see the appeal of being a damsel-in-distress, but her parents insist on it being her destiny. What’s a girl locked in a tower to do? Save herself, of course! My favorite thing about this book was the proto-feminist discussion it sparked among my nine- and ten-year-old readers. Notable quote: “Girls are just as good as boys - sometimes, they’re even better than boys!” Adrienne’s quest for independence is rife with humor and action, but also wry commentary on gender, race, and stereotypes that’s accessible to preteen and young teen readers.

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson. Calvin and Hobbes was selected by the club's first-ever unanimous vote. Most members were familiar with the world of Calvin and his stuffed tiger from strips in the newspaper. This collection, however, would be a good way to introduce the series to a first-time reader. It also highlights some of the most charming and memorable aspects of the series - specifically, Calvin’s wild imagination and he and Hobbes' out-of-control antics.

Rapunzel’s Revenge written by Dean and Shannon Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale.  I chose this title for our last meeting of the year. Written in part by one of my favorite authors (Shannon Hale, author of Princess Academy and The Goose Girl), this story re-imagines the fairy tale of Rapunzel set in the Wild West. The girls identified with this more rough-and-tumble version of Rapunzel and I particularly enjoyed one discussion we had about anti-hero, Jack, a horse-thief and swindler who ends up becoming Rapunzel’s greatest ally. Is a person who has a history of being trouble capable of being a “good guy”? Can someone be both a little bad and a little good? What exactly is “good” and “bad”, anyway?  Hale’s retelling lends itself to these kinds of questions while still telling a rollicking tale of heroism, bravery,  and love. Liked Tangled? You’ll like Rapunzel’s Revenge even better.