Book Reviews / book roundup lists / Teaching Ideas

Top 5 best YA graphic novels you need to read in 2023

The best YA graphic novels featured image is composed of 5 young adults standing side by side one another looking at a graphic novel in awe.

Whenever I am looking to add new titles to my classroom library, I prioritize graphic novels for my most reluctant readers. And, I must admit, these 5 best YA graphic novels for 2023 are both my and my students’ favorite library additions.

The best YA graphic novels featured image is composed of 5 young adults standing side by side one another looking at a graphic novel in awe.

If you are in search of some of the best YA graphics novels for high school and/or middle grade English, keep reading to explore the 5 that will fly off your shelves!

šŸŒŸ 5 Best YA Graphic Novels in 2023 šŸŒŸ

In Limbo by Deb JJ Lee

Author’s Instagram: @jdebbiel (they/them)

*Content warning: self-harm*
Prioritize your well-being & skip reading my review of this book if you need to.

  • Centers a high schooler navigating what it means to be Korean, Queer, and happy 
  • Deb JJ Lee has a difficult conversation with their young readers about the realities of being a young person struggling with mental health issues and identity.
  • Not only did I personally resonate with this read, but also I know many of my students will see themselves in the protagonist
  • Lee normalizes the need for mental health supports for young folks, especially young folks of color apart of the LGBTQ+ community. They also provide hope for so many young folks who feel it might be out of reach.

If you or a student need mental health support, dial 988 to be connected to the suicide and crisis lifeline.

šŸ“šFor fans of American Born Chinese and Felix Ever After

šŸŽ„For fans of All the Bright PlacesĀ andĀ Jane the Virgin

Recommended reader: middle-grade studentsĀ 

Additional resources:Ā middle-grade novels that feature LGBTQ+ charactersif you’re looking for , read this post

Author’s Instagram: @christinadiazgonzalez (she/her)Ā Ā 
Illustrator’s Instagram: @_pichikui (she/they)

  • Centers a group of students who are lumped together for a school project because of the ONE thing they have in common–they all speak Spanish.
  • A comical yet charming group of students figure out who they are, while readers understand the impact of stereotyping and generalizing
  • Includes speech bubbles in Spanish that are translated in English
  • I teach students who are predominantly Latine and/or Spanish-speaking.Ā I cannot tell you how many of my students who read this felt seen and heard in a way they hadn’t in literature before.

šŸ“šFor fans of StargirlĀ andĀ New Kid

šŸŽ„For fans of WonderĀ andĀ Diary of a Wimpy KidĀ 

Recommended reader: middle-grade and high school studentsĀ 

Additional resources: read up on 12 other YA & MG books for reluctant readersĀ to add to your classroom library

Authors’ Instagrams: @kaepernick7Ā (he/him) & @eve.ewing (she/her)
Illustrator’s Instagram: @orlandocaicedo (he/him)

  • Representation and humor meets the heaviness of important conversations surrounding Kaepernick’s journey as a Black man in a problematic athletic world.
  • If you have student-athletes or students who love football, this will be the perfect graphic novel for them!
  • I recommend this to my reluctant readers who are interested in anything athletic. So far, the students themselves have all come back with nothing but rave reviews!

šŸ“šFor fans of The CrossoverĀ andĀ Ghost

šŸŽ„For fans of Cobra KaiĀ andĀ All American

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Recommended reader:Ā middle-grade and high school studentsĀ 

Additional resources: read up on Asian American YA authors and protagonists to add to your classroom library

Author’s Instagram:Ā @trunglesĀ (he/him)

  • Fan of fantasy? This graphic novel uses fairytales and fantasy to capture the coming out process as a child of Vietnamese refugees.

  • As a first-generation person of color, I resonated with the difficulty of translating (literally and metaphorically) the coming out process to my parent whose fourth learned language is English

  • Recommended to me by a fellow teacher-colleague whose students also could not get enough of this graphic novel. Our students who love fantasy rate this a 10/10.

šŸ“šFor fans of PetĀ andĀ Cemetery Boys

šŸŽ„For fans of The Owl HouseĀ andĀ The Umbrella Academy

Recommended reader:Ā high school studentsĀ 

Additional resources: LGBTQ+ poster set to display around your classroom and/or use as an educational visual analysis of important LGBTQ+ figures

Author’s Instagram:Ā @aliceosemanĀ (she/they)

  • You’d almost have to be living under a rock to have not heard of the hype with this graphic novel selection.

  • I am here to tell you… both the graphic novel and theĀ NetflixĀ series live up to the hype.

  • Just YESTERDAY, a student of mine raved about the representation of this queer love story, and they could not wait to book talk this graphic novel selection.
  • I have to admit…as a mostly-millennial-wannabe-Gen Z teacher, I admittedly (and embarrassingly) watch shows that my students like, so I can connect to them. Usually, I hate it lol (if my students are reading this… hi kiddosĀ šŸ‘‹). I binged the book and the series in one full sitting.

šŸ“šFor fans of Home Field AdvantageĀ andĀ They Both Die at the End

šŸŽ„For fans ofĀ RiverdaleĀ (minus ALL the cringe) and The Summer I Turned Pretty

The best YA graphic novels featured image is composed of 5 young adults standing side by side one another looking at a graphic novel in awe.

Best YA graphic novels: concluding remarks

Looking for ways to incorporate these best YA graphic novels into your curriculum?

šŸŒŸ I would pair it with the Abandoned Places Creative Writing resource to help students understand the value of visual analysis as part of literature

šŸŒŸ Additionally, I would incorporate Terminus, a digital escape room, as an introductory activity to empower students as visual detectives in their literary analysis of these graphic novels. If you just want to try Chapter 1 to see how awesome it is before committing, here is the sampler game!

šŸŒŸ Lastly, as a no-prep analysis along the way, I would implement the reading response task cards that go with any novel and would pair wonderfully with these best YA graphic novels

If all you end up doing is reading these graphic novels yourself and adding them to your classroom library, you’re already the teacher of the year becauseā€”I’ll say it again for the people in the backā€”REPRESENTATION MATTERS.