For grades 8-9:
1) American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang – this title is an absolute must-have! We’ve done it twice for bookclub at Christianne’s Lyceum and it has proven to be great for discussion. Themes include identity, racism and prejudice.
2) Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim & Jesse Hamm – the art isn’t the most initially appealing, but the story is great. Girls will tend to want to read this title more than boys…
…so to counterbalance that, you may want to look at Kingdom Come by Mark Waid & Alex Ross, which is a DC superheroes story arc that pits hero against hero with the line drawn by philosophical (as much as physical) conflict.
Honourable Mentions (if you have time to feel out a few more titles, I would definitely suggest also looking at the following):
Castle Waiting by Linda Medley
Seven Sons by Alexander Grecian & Riley Rossmo
Fagin the Jew by Will Eisner
For grades 10 (give or take a year):
1) The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot – an important novel about a young girl’s struggle with the psycho-sociological effects of sexual abuse, and eventually overcoming them in order to take charge of her life. Juxtaposed with the life and stories of Beatrix Potter.
2) Pyongyang (or Shenzhen) by Guy DeLisle – non-fiction travelogues about a French animator’s experiences in Pyongyang, North Korea and Shenzhen, China, respectively.
Skim by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki
Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
For grades 11-12:
1) Pedro and Me by Judd Winick – biographical; Judd’s relationship with an HIV-positive man during their months on a reality TV show, The Real World. A wonderful story.
2) Malcolm X by Andrew Helfer & Randy DuBurke – biographical graphic novel about the life of Malcolm X. Very informative and is crafted in a way that many readers un-used to reading graphic novels would find welcoming.
Louis Riel by Chester Brown
Signal to Noise by Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
X-Force by Peter Milligan & Mike Allred
The Sandman by Neil Gaiman & Various (Dave McKean)
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore & David Lloyd
Fables created by Bill Willingham