Books, graphic novels for college students

In the footsteps of the Mary sue Gift guide books for kids under 10, this list focuses on that delicate age between around 9 and 13. Some call them pre-teens, others call them middle school. recently released for this audience. Because we are TMS, we sure priority to science fiction, magic, social justice and the stories we wish we had growing up.

As before, this list comes out very, very early because 1) Diwali that started last week has officially started the winter break and 2) the supply chain is an absolute mess. There are also notes after each summary detailing certain themes and a general age recommendation.

"Reception" by Kelly Yang (Image: Arthur A. Levine Books.)

(Image: Arthur A. Levine Books.)

Reception is one of three books in a critically acclaimed series after Mia Tang. In the first book, we are introduced to Mia’s complicated life. At home, she lives in a motel (something she hides from those at school) and helps her parents hide immigrant families from the evil motel owner, Mr. Yao, by helping them at the counter. ‘registration.

At school, she explores what it would be like to be a writer (her dream job) despite her mother telling her to stick to math because English is not her first language. Mia’s kindness and tenacity shines through from the start.

This story touches on immigration and the family. The recommended age range is nine to eleven, or those in grades three through seventh.

"Ghost Squad" by Claribel A. Ortega (Image: Scholastic.)

(Image: Scholastic.)

If they are fans of Strange things, Coco, Where ghost hunters then it is a good choice! Lucely and her BFF Syd have cast a spell that accidentally awakens evil ghosts that will cause destruction wherever they go. They team up with Syd’s witchy grandmother and her chonky cat to fight the spirits and reverse the curse. This book seems to start and end with a back-to-back action and adventure and won the IGNTYE Award for Mid-Level Fiction at FIYAHCon 2021.

This story touches on multigenerational families and the supernatural. The recommended age range is eight to twelve years, or those in the third to seventh year.

"Insiders" by Mark Oshiro (Image: HarperCollins.)

(Image: HarperCollins.)

When new student Héctor moves from one part of California to the other side of the state, he feels like he’s in a whole different world. His experience in San Francisco was that being gay was as normal as being straight or anything, but in this new town (Orangevale), Héctor feels like an outsider. When he finds a regular place to get away from the other students, the door one day closes behind Héctor and he meets two new friends from across the country. Entering this magical portal-shaped door changes Héctor’s life forever and sets a new tone for the year, full of friendship and adventure.

This story touches on identity, friendship and bullying. The recommended age range is eight to twelve years, or those in the third to seventh year.

"Maya and the rising darkness" by Rena Barron (Image: Clarion Books.)

(Image: Clarion Books.)

Twelve-year-old Maya grew up with her father’s epic stories and reading action-packed comics. Along with those moments of joy also came the unfortunate ability to see strange creatures and events in her South Side Chicago neighborhood. When her father disappears, Maya is forced to find herself in a familiar yet new world, just beyond our own. With every answer she finds (like the fact that she is a deity) comes a dozen new questions.

This story touches on myths / fables, fantasy worlds and family. The recommended age range is eight to twelve years, or those in the third to eighth grade.

"Allergic" by Megan Wagner Llyod (Image: Graphix.)

(Image: Graphix.)

This graphic novel tells the story of Maggie, a girl frustrated that her parents are still worried about the arrival of a baby and her two young twin brothers. As an animal lover, Maggie considers having a puppy the perfect solution and chooses one for her birthday. Major problem, however… she finds that she is hyper allergic and has rashes. Maggie is looking for a solution, if any, so that she can keep her new dog and manage her allergies.

This graphic novel deals with diseases. The recommended age range is eight to twelve years, or those in the third to eighth grade.

"Are you Huda F?" by Huda Fahmy (Image: Dial Books.)

(Image: Numbering books.)

In the old town of Huda, she was the only girl to wear a hijab and while it isolated her at times, it also gave her a sense of identity. When she moves to Dearborn, Michigan, and is one of the many people wearing a hijab in the small town, all of a sudden, Huda doesn’t know how to identify herself.

Forced to explore who she is beyond her hijab, she tries a bunch of cliques in this journey. It, like many other mid-level books, forces its main protagonist to examine his identity. Are you Huda F? releases November 23.

This graphic novel explores topics such as identity and humor. The recommended age range is 12 years and over, or those in the seventh to ninth grade.

"Shift" by Kiku Hughes (Image: First Sec.)

(Image: First Second.)

Drawing inspiration from the generational trauma of Japanese internment camps, anger at Muslim bans, and the love of literary hero Octavia Bulter, Hughes creates a moving and informative story. In a semi-biographical account, Hughes is delved into the past during growing resentment against Japanese Americans before and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She both challenges preconceived ideas about people in the camps and struggles with the silence and assimilation of her family after these traumatic years.

This graphic novel addresses multiracial identity, history, parent / child relationships and time travel. The recommended age range is 12 years and over, or those in the seventh to ninth grade.

  • Anything from Rick Riordan presents. It was impossible to choose a singular series because there are a LOT of them. If the kiddo loves mythology, fantasy and adventure, then these are safe bets. Basically, popular and upcoming color writers are working with the imprint to tell stories from mythologies around the world.
  • Also for fans of fantastic and supernatural worlds, Amari and the Night Brothers is a must. I wrote a whole article about this a few months ago, and it falls somewhere between YA and Middle Grade.
  • Another recently mentioned book is Elatsoe, which, while often labeled as YA, is a solid choice for mature readers ages 12 and up.
  • Cinderella is dead by Kalynn Bayron is one of many queer tales, and this one sits between mature tweens and young YA’s.
  • Raise as we climb: the battle of black women for the ballot box by Evette Dione is written for college kids, but I honestly couldn’t put a non-fiction title for kids over 10. It’s going to look like school, and I’m fully aware of it. This book and Revolution in our time: the Black Panther Party’s promise to the people, by Kekla Magoon, would be great books for children to read alongside a parent figure in their life. I learned a lot from these, and showing learning as an ongoing process is a good example.

Also consult the guide to gift books for under 10s and stay tuned for the next gift guides in the books sections and other places on The Mary Sue!

(Image: Clarion Books, Graphix, Scholastic, and Arthur A. Levine Books.)

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