Visualizing Reality: Nonfiction Graphic Novels for Teens

By Paul Kim

These teen graphic novels that tell amazing true stories are recommended by our teen interns, Barira Barkat and Jonathan Nguyen.

  • Welcome to the New World

    2020 by Halpern, Jake

    This stunning memoir explores a refugee experience in the United States during the 2016 election and the events that followed, all while portraying the complexities of American kindness, ignorance, hope, and heartbreak.

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  • Run

    2021 by Lewis, John

    Through amazing storytelling and exceptional art, this first volume in a series picks up where March left off: John Lewis and his fellow activists in their passionate campaigning for civil rights legislation after the Voting Rights Act.

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  • Victory. Stand! Raising My Fist for Justice

    2022 by Smith, Tommie

    Explore the life of Tommie Smith, the iconic Olympic gold medalist whose historic podium protest left a lasting impact on the world of sports and civil rights. This quick and powerful read unveils his courage, struggles, and resilience.

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  • Sunshine: How One Camp Taught Me about Life, Death, and Hope

    2023 by Krosoczka, Jarrett

    Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka recounts his remarkable experiences at Camp Sunshine, a camp for seriously ill kids and their families, where he learns about the hope and determination that shine even in the midst of struggles.

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  • Honor Girl

    2015 by Thrash, Maggie

    In this memoir, 15-year-old Maggie experiences her first relationship at an all-girl camp. With honesty, humor, and romance, the book beautifully captures the complexities of first love and heartbreak.

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  • Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American

    2022 by Gao, Laura

    This funny memoir follows a queer Chinese American who has immigrated to Texas, where she is determined to join the basketball team, get out of attending Chinese school, and unravel the mystery of her attraction to girls.

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  • Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting

    2022 by Neely, Kindra

    Author Kindra Neely recounts her experience of a mass shooting at her college and the PTSD, anxiety, and depression that followed and changed her whole life.

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  • Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam

    2023 by Pham, Thien

    This memoir follows a Vietnamese immigrant's search for belonging in America through meaningful food and meals. In her struggles as a refugee, she explores the pursuit of the American dream through flavors and experiences.

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  • Change the Game

    2023 by Kaepernick, Colin

    Follow the story of high school star athlete Colin Kaepernick as he faces a crucial decision about his future: whether to stay true to himself or to please all the people in his life. This book highlights how taking the road less traveled can make all the difference in the world.

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  • Nervosa

    2023 by Gold, Hayley

    Woven through with dark humor and stark honesty, this memoir tells a story of disordered eating, chronic illness, and finding light in a dark place.

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  • My Friend Dahmer

    2017 by Derf

    This graphic novel recounts the author’s true high school experiences with Jeffery Dahmer, who later became one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history.

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  • Radium Girls

    2022 by Cy

    Step into the haunting world of the Radium Girls, the innocent young women who faced deadly consequences from painting watch dials with radium. This true story mingles tragedy with the power and strength of sisterhood.

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