Graphic Reads for English Learners

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Graphic novels and graphic nonfiction are great choices for adult English learners. Readers who would ordinarily struggle to grasp the text’s meaning can often understand a story that’s accompanied by illustrations and photographs. Let’s Read English participants enjoyed many of these titles.

Arab in America

Despite having lived in the United States since he was a baby and despite being a native English speaker, Toufic El Rassi feels out of place and scrutinized by everyone around him. At times, he even suppresses his Egyptian and Lebanese heritage in order to blend in to his community. His honest perspective spotlights behaviors that many readers will recognize and be inspired to change.

Aya

Rich, vibrant illustrations express Aya’s warm, dynamic neighborhood in 1970s Ivory Coast. Romance, gossip, and hilarity surround this teenager as she challenges gender roles and wisely advises her friends in their screwball personal dramas. If you love this story, continue reading the next two volumes.

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Even in their nineties, Roz Chast’s parents refused to discuss end-of-life plans with their daughter. Chast tried her best to guess at what they would want, often feeling guilty and inadequate as a daughter. Nevertheless, she honors their memories with humor, tenderness, and some delightfully silly drawings.

Coraline

This is the graphic version of Neil Gaiman’s spooky, fast-paced novel. Stepping through a door in her house, Coraline discovers a second home and family that seem to mirror her own. Her visits are enchanting until she discovers the dark truth about this otherworldly place and must use all her cleverness to escape.

El Deafo

A young rabbit feels left out and awkward because of her hearing loss, but thanks to her vigorous imagination, she reinvents herself as a superhero. In the end, she triumphs in finding authentic friends and finding the strength to use her voice.
Winner of the Newbery Honor and the Eisner Award.

Kampung Boy

Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in Malaysia’s countryside, pokes fun at his family’s traditions and local culture with fondness.

March. Book One

Not many sitting members of Congress write comic books, but John Lewis’ story is so visually compelling that his longtime staffer convinced him to share it in graphic form. Lewis’ chronicle of the civil rights movement and how it launched the first African American president is moving and inspiring. Winner of the National Book Award.

An Olympic Dream: the Story of Samia Yusuf Omar

Training to be an Olympian is a monumental physical task for any athlete. For Samia Yusuf Omar, it also meant harassment from militias, human trafficking, and imprisonment. Her story is told here in broad, black brushstrokes, and illuminates a unique face among the masses crossing the Mediterranean.