With everything that is going on in the news, it can be hard for people to know what to do. I find myself wondering what I can do to change this world for better in terms of race relations. After much introspection, and a few conversations with my children explaining the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve decided to continue on that front – educating children. Below are 10 graphic novels for kids that feature black main characters.
As a white parent, I feel that it is important to ensure that my children grow up with as few racial biases as possible. Luckily for me, my children are avid readers, so I felt it was appropriate to tackle their personal libraries first. My eldest son’s favorite type of book is a graphic novel. After reviewing his collection, I realized that none of the main characters were black. Some had black characters, but they were all side characters. This is one easy change I can make in our lives, that can affect my classroom library at the same time. Hopefully you’ll consider adding some of these books to your life too.
The Prison-Ship Adventure of James Forten, Revolutionary War Captive (History’s Kid Heroes series)
Summary: Captured at sea . . . a young man must choose between his country and his freedom. The Atlantic Ocean, 1781. James Forten is a free African American sailor on an American ship, the Royal Louis, during the Revolutionary War. After his ship is captured by the British, he becomes a prisoner on the Amphion. James worries that he will be sold as a slave. Will James ever see his home again?
Grades: 2-5 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 0761370757 | ISBN-13: 978-0761370758
Also in this series: The Lifesaving Adventure of Sam Deal, Shipwreck Rescuer (Buy on Amazon)
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women
Summary: Little Women with a twist: four sisters from a blended family experience the challenges and triumphs of life in NYC in this beautiful full-color graphic novel perfect for fans of Roller Girl and Smile. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are having a really tough year: with their father serving in the military overseas, they must work overtime to make ends meet…and each girl is struggling in her own way. Whether it’s school woes, health issues, boy troubles, or simply feeling lost, the March sisters all need the same thing: support from each other. Only by coming together–and sharing lots of laughs and tears–will these four young women find the courage to discover who they truly are as individuals…and as a family.
Grades: 3-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 0316522880 | ISBN-13: 978-0316522885
Summary: Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
Grades: 3-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 0062691198 | ISBN-13: 978-0062691194
Minecraft Volume 1 (Graphic Novel)
Summary: Tyler is your everyday kid whose life is changed when his family has to move from the town he’s always known. Thankfully, Tyler has a strong group of friends forever linked in the world of Minecraft!
Tyler, along with his friends Evan, Candace, Tobi, and Grace have been going on countless adventures together across the expanses of the Overworld and are in need of a new challenge. They decide to go on the Ultimate Quest–to travel to the End and face off against the ender dragon!
Grades: 5-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 150670834X | ISBN-13: 978-1506708348
Also in this series: Minecraft Volume 2 (Pre-order on Amazon)
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky (Tristan Strong Novel, A Book 1)
Summary: Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie’s notebook. Tristan chases after it–is that a doll?–and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature’s hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world.
Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
Grades: 3-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 1534431454 | ISBN-13: 978-1534431454
Full Court Pressure (Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novels)
Summary: Star defensive player Zack Fuller is in a tough spot. His new Panthers teammates don’t trust him. The players on the Bulldogs, his old squad, think he’s a traitor for leaving. When the two teams face each other in the playoffs, Zack has to guard his former best friend.
To make matters worse, the Panthers captain refuses to pass the ball to Zack. Caught between a Panther and a Bulldog, and in serious foul trouble, Zack will have to find a way to play through the pressure.
Grades: 3-8 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 1434222918 | ISBN-13: 978-1434222916
Also in this series: Shot Clock Slam (Buy on Amazon)
When Stars Are Scattered
Summary: Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. Life is hard there: never enough food, achingly dull, and without access to the medical care Omar knows his nonverbal brother needs. So when Omar has the opportunity to go to school, he knows it might be a chance to change their future . . . but it would also mean leaving his brother, the only family member he has left, every day.
Heartbreak, hope, and gentle humor exist together in this graphic novel about a childhood spent waiting, and a young man who is able to create a sense of family and home in the most difficult of settings. It’s an intimate, important, unforgettable look at the day-to-day life of a refugee, as told to New York Times Bestselling author/artist Victoria Jamieson by Omar Mohamed, the Somali man who lived the story.
Grades: 4-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 0525553908 | ISBN-13: 978-0525553908
The Cardboard Kingdom
Summary: Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again. In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that!
Grades: 4-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 1524719382 | ISBN-13: 978-1524719388
Summary: Jorge seems to have it all together. He’s big enough that nobody really messes with him, but he’s also a genuinely sweet guy with a solid, reliable group of friends. The only time he ever really feels off his game is when he crosses paths with a certain girl… But when the group dynamic among the boys starts to shift, will Jorge be able to balance what his friends expect of him versus what he actually wants?
Grades: 5-8 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 0316363243 | ISBN-13: 978-0316363242
The Okay Witch
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Moth Hush loves all things witchy. But she’s about to discover that witches aren’t just the stuff of movies, books, and spooky stories. When some eighth-grade bullies try to ruin her Halloween, something really strange happens.
It turns out that Founder’s Bluff, Massachusetts, has a centuries-old history of witch drama. And, surprise: Moth’s family is at the center of it all! When Moth’s new powers show up, things get totally out-of-control. She meets a talking cat, falls into an enchanted diary, and unlocks a hidden witch world. Secrets surface from generations past as Moth unravels the complicated legacy at the heart of her town, her family, and herself.
Grades: 3-7 | Buy on Amazon | ISBN-10: 1534431454 | ISBN-13: 978-1534431454
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