15 Graphic Novels for Kids by Asian Authors & Illustrators

Graphic novels are an irresistible medium for young readers, whether they’re the reluctant type or totally addicted to books. From fables and fantasies to historical accounts and coming-of-age tales, the books on this list illuminate the many facets of Asian experiences and are relatable for all readers. With their stories of characters trying to fit in, find their way, or understand their worlds, there’s a fit here for every reader.

no no 9780593127315 The Flamingo by Guojing

Named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022, The Flamingo is a graphic novel chapter book about a little girl who finds a pink feather while on a beach vacation. Her Lao Lao (grandmother) tells a fantastic and magical story about a girl who becomes the guardian of a baby flamingo. Author-artist Guojing uses sparse text to guide young readers through a story that begins in sepia tones and later bursts from the page in flamingo-worthy color. The Flamingo will repeatedly bring readers back to its pages to discover new details and get carried away by its lovely story.
(Ages 5 – 8)

9780593624524 Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All by Chanel Miller

If you’ve ever lost a sock in the wash, this story is for you! Magnolia Wu spends her days sitting in her parents’ laundromat in New York City, collecting the lonely socks customers leave behind. But her summer is about to take an exciting turn when she sets off with her new friend, Iris, to solve the mystery of each missing sock. Together, they’ll cross the city, meet new people, find new locations, and uncover the unimaginable. This fun and poignant story is an excellent example of the adventures that await when you’re bold enough to jump into the unknown.
(Ages 7 – 11)

9780593114490 City of Secrets by Victoria Ying

Orphan Ever Barnes may not know much about his lineage, but he has the key to a secret at the heart of his city, Oskar. In this thrilling mystery, Ever works inside the Switchboard Operating Facility and knows all its intricacies (something detail-oriented readers will enjoy). But his every move is being watched by adults with a mysterious agenda. Victoria Ying’s cinematic graphic novel crosses genres and uses steampunk and fantastical elements to grab the full attention of middle-grade readers.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593179932 The Magic Paintbrush by Kat Zhang and Eric Darnell, illustrated by Phoebe Zhong

Amy loves to draw, but lately, her art has been lacking passion and … magic. Then Amy visits her grandmother and finds an ancient paintbrush that brings her art to life! But when her art begins to wreak havoc across New York City, Amy will go on an international adventure to restore order. This highly imaginative series highlights the importance of finding your own path and the power of imagination.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593372869 Meesh the Bad Demon #1 by Michelle Lam

The first volume in the Meesh the Bad Demon series from animation storyboard artist Michelle Lam will charm kids trying to figure out where and how they fit in — and if fitting in even matters. Meesh is considered a “bad” demon because she’s not very good at being bad — she excels at seeing the best in others. She spends most of her time avoiding other demons and reading fan magazines about the fairy realm. But she must actively participate in her destiny when the demon realm is threatened. Sprinkled with a buffet of magical, mythical, and monstrous characters, this book is a feast for the eyes and mind.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593425206 Next Stop by Debbie Fong

After Pia experiences an unimaginable loss, she decides to join her family friend on a bus tour to visit weird and wacky roadside attractions to take her mind off her troubles. Along the way, Pia learns that the trip is about so much more than the destination when she makes valuable friendships, explores her grief, and learns how to laugh again. Filled with heart and humor, this graphic novel is a remarkable story about how we should handle the bumps in the road that come our way.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593125328 Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee

Some kids can’t wait to grow up, but Lora isn’t one of them. Growing up looks and sounds miserable — where’s the fun, imagination, and adventure? Lora grows lonely as her friends drift into maturity. So, when she throws a tea party and reconnects with a ghost — her imaginary friend, Alexa — she learns to have fun without her old group. Quirky, inventive, and real, Malaysia-born Yee’s coming-of-age story is ideal for tweens who like their fantasies grounded in the real world.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593525272 Anzu and the Realm of Darkness by Mai K. Nguyen

A wonderful tale of adventure, Anzu and the Realm of Darkness follows Anzu, who finds herself trapped in the underworld known as Yomi. When the gatekeeper warns her that she needs to return to the human realm before it’s too late, Anzu must race the clock as she tries to fight nefarious deities, break the curse, free the spirits of other lost children, and reach the gate before sunrise.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593125465 My Aunt Is a Monster by Reimena Yee

Another fantasy graphic novel from Yee (see Séance Tea Party above), this book contains a powerful coming-of-age story. Safia is blind and lives adventures by listening to audiobooks. She thinks that’s as wild as life will get until she moves in with her faraway aunt, Lady Whimsy. Lady Whimsy is reclusive for a reason — people are looking for her — and when agents come to call, Safia takes the reins. She quickly learns she can’t play a passive role in this adventure. Fast-moving and gorgeously rendered, this book will turn middle-grade readers into Yee devotees.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780451480163 Sea Sirens by Amy Chu, illustrated by Janet K. Lee

The first of two graphic novels in A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure series, Sea Sirens, centers on a Vietnamese-American girl named Trot and her one-eyed cat, Cap’n Bill. When they wipe out while surfing, they get sucked underwater by a massive wave. The duo discovers a glorious deep sea kingdom where an ancient war puts mermaids at risk. Inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Sea Fairies and Vietnamese mythology, this graphic novel will enchant middle-grade readers with its oceanic color palette and comic moments.
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780823449781 Stories of the Islands by Clar Angkasa

Clar Angkasa’s Stories of the Islands reimagines traditional Indonesian fairy tales into vivid stories where girls have the power to fight evil and save themselves. You won’t find any damsels in distress in these powerful feminist stories!
(Ages 8 – 12)

9780593117125 Nayra and the Djinn by Iasmin Omar Ata

Growing up isn’t easy for anyone, but Nayra Mansour has it harder than most. Not only is her family very strict, but as one of her school’s only Muslim American girls, she faces relentless bullying from most of her classmates. She also feels an awkward amount of pressure to be friends with Rami, who is also Muslim. She’d love to transfer to a new school, but a djinn materializes before she can try. The djinn promises to help Nayra but has its own past and issues. This graphic novel’s rich colors and emotionally charged illustrations will connect with many readers.
(Ages 10 and up)

9780525554899 The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor

Set in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885, cartoonist and writer Shing Yin Khor blends historical fiction with fables in this beautiful graphic novel. It has claimed rave reviews and many honors since its release in 2021, including becoming a National Book Award Finalist. Mei, working at the camp after the Chinese Exclusion Act, tries to stay on task, even as she develops a friendship and romantic feelings for the camp foreman’s daughter. One of her coping mechanisms is reimagining the myths of Paul Bunyan with a Chinese heroine, Auntie Po, taking the lead. The complex emotions of teenage years and heavy themes around racism and social ostracism are balanced by the stunning watercolor illustrations.
(Ages 10 – 14)

9781984851598 The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

In his gorgeous debut, author-artist Trung Le Nguyen tells the story of Tiến, a teenage boy who adores fairy tales and uses them to navigate his life. He and his parents, Vietnamese immigrants, share the stories he checks out from the library, but when Tiến develops a crush on his best friend Julian, he must step away from fairy tales and tell his own story. Readers will connect and empathize with Tiến and get lost in Le Nguyen’s spell-binding art.
(Young Adult)

9781603094702 They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker

Author-activist George Takei, writing with Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, and Harmony Becker, delivers the true account of Takei’s time in one of the United States’ relocation centers for people of Japanese descent. Takei was four years old in 1942 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered entire families into holding cells, where they were held for years under armed guards. Although this is an adult title, older middle-grade and young adult readers will be stunned by this graphic memoir’s revelations of legalized racism in the U.S. This new edition includes 16 pages of bonus content, including documents, photos, sketches, and more.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2023 and updated in 2024.

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