The grassroots organization WeNeedDiverseBooks has been inspiring conversation around the internet about why it’s important to include books featuring diverse characters in the stories that we, as librarians and educators, promote and use in our curriculum. Here are a few graphic novel titles that feature a diversity of main characters and cultural experiences that are worth having on your radar:
a + e 4ever by Ilike Merey:
Asher Machnik is a teenage boy cursed with a beautiful androgynous face. Guys punch him, girls slag him and by high school he’s developed an intense fear of being touched. Art remains his only escape from an otherwise emotionally empty life. Eulalie Mason is the lonely, tough-talking dyke from school who befriends Ash. The only one to see and accept all of his sides as a loner, a fellow artist and a best friend, she’s starting to wonder if Ash is ever going to see all of her.
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang:
Maps the adolescent Chinese-American experience through three separate but interwoven stories. One story centres on Jin Wang, a Chinese-American student at an all-white California high school. Next is a comic update of the legendary story of the Monkey King. Finally, there’s the stereotype of Chin-Kee, the ultimate negative Chinese cliche.
Marbles: mania, depression, and Michelangelo by Ellen Forney:
Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Ellen Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic but terrified that medications would cause her to lose her creativity and livelihood, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability without losing herself or her passion. Searching to make sense of the popular concept of the “crazy artist,” Ellen found inspiration from the lives and work of other artist and writers who suffered from mood disorders, including Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, William Styron, and Sylvia Plath.
Princeless by Jeremy Whitley
Follow the adventures of Princess Adrienne, a princess who’s tired of waiting to be rescued. Along with her guardian dragon, Sparky, they begin their own quest in an all-ages action adventure designed specifically for those who are tired of waiting to be rescued — and who are ready to save themselves.
Saga by Brian K Vaughan
The sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old world.
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
Eleven-year-old Julian Calendar thought changing schools would mean leaving his “nerdy” persona behind, but instead he forms an alliance with fellow inventors Greta and Ben and works with them to prevent an adult from using one of their gadgets for nefarious purposes.
Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Novel Collection
This graphic anthology of Native American trickster tales brings together Native American folklore and the world of comics. More than twenty Native American tales are adapted into comic form. Each story is written by a different Native American storyteller who worked closely with a selected illustrator, giving each tale a unique and powerful voice and look.
To join in the conversation, you can find WeNeedDiverseBooks on Tumblr and Twitter and also find others participating on multiple social media platforms with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks.