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Manga series or graphic novels for 11-12 year old boys?


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My son is loving DragonballZ right now. In the past he has read a lot of the Pokemon books and a couple of other manga type series aimed at younger readers. This is not my area of expertise at all, although I am usually great at finding books for my kids. I don't know much Manga, and some of what I have researched definitely seems geared to older teens. I need something geared for a younger reader (6th grade). I don't love the DragonballZ honestly, but he has read a good bit of that series now. He also enjoys graphic novels, but not really superhero type stuff.


Can anyone give me some ideas? If your son was a slightly more reluctant reader, drawn to graphic novels and manga, and you have any series suggestions for regular books they enjoyed I would like to hear those as well.

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We really enjoyed the "Inventions and Discovery" set at timberdoodle.com. They have history ones also.

They are fairly short (4 chapters or so), and not fantasy or whatever else manga are, but It is the graphic novel format which my boys loved. 

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Our library has a lot of non-fiction graphic novels in the kids area. Mine will read anything in graphic novel form, so I've taken advantage of that.


A favorite here is Mud, Blood, and Trenches by Nathan Hale about WWI (not his book about the Donner Party though)


There is a series by Gary Jeffrey about Cold War conflicts which really filled some gaps in our modern history outside reading.

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I'm less knowledgeable about the manga end (the few I know have been mentioned, mostly), but there are so many western graphic novels for that age now that it's impossible to list them all. They often have a very different vibe from the manga though.


Still, in addition to the ones mentioned above, you might try...


Usagi Yojimbo - western GN, but done as a play on Japanese manga tropes, but with a rabbit as the main character - serious, but okay for this age

Runaways - good comic series about the children of the super villains

Bone - classic gn series with lots of humor

Mouse Guard - like Redwall, but a gn


And then on the slightly younger end of that age...


Giants Beware

Zita the Spacegirl

anything by Doug TenApel


Missile Mouse

Dream Jumper

GN's of books like Wrinkle in Time and Ember


But that's just a smattering... there's so much now.


I wish I knew some more of the Manga titles, but once you get past Inuyasha and manga versions of Studio Ghibli stuff, I don't know much.

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My kids have really enjoyed a lot of graphic novels these last few years.

Some favorites:

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales - they like them all but have some preferred ones

Secret Smithsonian Adventures

Science Comics

Human Body Theater


Zita the Spacegirl

Nnewts (and anything else by the same author)

Cleopatra in Space

Legend of Zelda - they really like the Legendary Edition ones

Maximum Ride

Books made into graphic novels, ex. Ember, Wrinkle in Time, Percy Jackson books, etc




and many many more

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I asked my son the others he liked at that age and said Kingdom Hearts was a favorite and he also LOVED Fruits Basket (as did I). I didn't originally mention it because it is less action and a more complex story line. I know girls really like it but my rough and tumble boy read it about 3 or 4 times. It is about a girl who ends up getting involved with a family who has a curse placed on them. They each morph into one of the zodiac animals from the Chinese Zodiac. One character (Kyo) has the ultimate curse of being a cat which is not part of the zodiac. There is a whole story behind it.


As with any Manga, check it out for yourself before passing it on. There is often much more dating themes, crushes etc in Manga. It doesn't bother me but some parents might feel bothered by it.

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