As part of my dissertation, I wanted to hunt down science fiction picturebooks, comics, and graphic novels for children under 12 that successfully use speculation or extrapolation. This means that the books pose questions on the consequences/future of science (broadly and inclusively defined) or technology, as opposed to only using science fiction tropes. For instance, scholar A. Waller Hastings has stated that in many children’s robot books the robot could be replaced with a golem or strong human friend without any real change to the story overall. These books introduce SF tropes, but do not introduce the genre’s focus on asking “what if…” questions. Some of the successful books listed below include robots, but the stories inspire wonder or questions about what robots can do, how robots might influence us, and so forth.
Identifying and using quality science fiction for children under 12 is especially important for parents, teachers, or librarians who wish to pair science fiction texts with scientific inquiry or who want to enable children to smoothly transition to advanced science fiction as they grow as readers. Additionally, I am concerned with the representation of girls and non-mainstream identities in science fiction for the young. Therefore, this list also features those components.
In the embedded spreadsheet below, you will find the names of the author/illustrator, the title of the book, whether or not (y or n) the book included speculation or extrapolation, if the book contained any strong female main characters, and what kind of diversity was present in the book, using terms outlined by Lee Galda et al. in Literature and the Child (pf=painted faces, cr=culturally rich, n=none). Along the bottom, you will find tabs to move between Picturebooks, Graphic Novels/Comics*, and Early Readers.
If you want to see my top recommendations from this list, head to this page.
*I include middle grade novels that heavily feature illustrations, on the condition that those illustrations add meaning to the narrative (rather than being decorative).