A Mighty Girl's top picks of girl-empowering graphic novels for children.
While many people think of graphic novels as "just comic books", the truth is that a good graphic novel doesn't simplify a story: instead, it amplifies it, drawing out details and adding emotional weight. For young or reluctant readers, in particular, a graphic novel format makes it easier to understand more complex stories. In fact, we'd argue that high-quality graphic novels are a key part of any library!
With the growing popularity of this literary form, there's been a tremendous increase in the number of graphic novels published in recent years, including ones for children. To help you discover the best girl-empowering titles, we've showcased 50 of our favorite Mighty Girl graphic novels in this blog post. The first half focuses on graphic novels that are fantasy driven, while the second half highlights ones that are grounded in real-life — but no matter the theme, all of the graphic novels featured tell the stories of smart, confident, and courageous Mighty Girls!
For girl-empowering graphic novels for teen and adult readers, check out our blog post, Expanding the Story: Mighty Girl Graphic Novels for Teens. You can also browse our entire collection of over 150 graphic novels for all ages starring girls and women in our special feature on the Top Graphic Novels Starring Mighty Girls.
Fantasy-Filled Mighty Girl Graphic Novels
Gator’s habit of snapping at other neighborhood pets has left him lonely in the sewers, while Gabby’s preference for tuba playing over poolside gossip has isolated her from the girls on the street. When the unlikely pair meet, though, they discover that friends can sometimes be very different from one another! There are a few challenges to face but, in the end, they both learn and important lesson: true friends will appreciate you for exactly who you are. This charming and funny graphic novel for young readers is a great reminder that it’s good to march to the beat of your own drummer.
8-year-old Mandy doesn’t show her emotions, not even when her beloved sister is heading off to college. But when her sister gives her a sketchbook as a goodbye present, Mandy experiments with drawing her emotions, only to have them escape and run rampant through the neighborhood! Fortunately, one of the monsters, Happster, is there to guide Mandy through the process of getting the sketches back on the pages where they belong — she just has to allow herself to feel the emotions that she fears will get out of control. This clever graphic novel provides plenty of fodder for discussion about emotional health and about respectful ways to express your feelings.
A little girl who loves to tinker and fix things finds a robot in the woods — and is shocked when the push of a button activates him for the first time! Soon, the pair are the best of friends, but the little robot is also curious about its own kind. Unfortunately, the large, sinister robots at the factory that made the little robot are looking for him too and they don’t care who they hurt along the way to get him back. Now, the two new friends will have to fight for the little robot’s freedom! This fun and charming story, which stars an inventive and intelligent Mighty Girl, will be a hit with any young reader who’s imagined having their own robot friend.
A little girl, lonely and bored, decides to visit her grandmother — but on the way, she falls asleep on the bus, and wakes to discover the quiet, seemingly magical wood at the last stop on the line. She follows a mysterious stag deep into a forest full of extraordinary creatures and strange, wonderful sights. But home and family are now far away, and the girl may find she can't go back the way she came.... This hybrid of wordless picture book and graphic novel tells a gentle story about loneliness, imagination, and love.
Hector, Terrence, and Dee have always wondered... what does the lunch lady do when she’s not dishing out meals? When they tail her to find out, they discover that she has a secret lair in her kitchen, and a secret identity devoted to seeking justice! In this volume, Lunch Lady takes on a nefarious substitute teacher, determined to win Teacher of the Year by foul means. Full of fun visual details and zany, quirky superheroes and supervillains, this graphic novel is sure to be a hit! Fans of Lunch Lady will want to check out the sequels, including Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians and Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta.
Bera is happy as a solitary troll, tending her island's pumpkin patch and staying out of trouble. But when a human baby arrives in the land of the trolls, all the other trolls want to dispose of it in various messy ways. Bera doesn't see why — it's just a baby, after all — so to deal with the problem, she decides to take the baby back to the land of the humans and return it to its parents. Can quiet, humble Bera protect the baby from multiheaded trolls, goblins, and even the former Head Witch of the Troll King? Funny and sweet, with hints drawn from folklore, this graphic novel shows that sometimes it's the most unassuming people who end saving the day.
Claudette and company from Giants Beware! are back, and this time, it’s dragons locked in their sights! Years ago a dragon ate Claudette’s father’s legs and his magic sword, Breaker. When retrieving Breaker becomes critical to protect the village, Claudette is deeply insulted to discover her father is leaving her behind while he goes to collect the sword. So she, Marie, and Gaston set out on another adventure — hopefully more successful (or at least more straightforward!) than last time. A clever storyline and funny supporting characters, including seven lovelorn princes vying for Marie’s attention, will keep fans of the first book giggling.
Avani is struggling to find a place to fit in after moving to a new town. Everyone in school thinks she's weird, especially the girls in her Flower Scouts troop. Is it so weird to think scouting should be about fun and adventure, not about makeovers and boys, boys, boys? Then Avani is accidentally abducted by Mabel, an alien from across the galaxy. It turns out that Mabel is a Star Scout, and collecting alien specimens is just one of the activities on her troop’s list. If Avani can make it through the Star Scouts’ Camp Andromeda — and manage to prevent her dad from realizing she’s left the planet — she’ll prove that humans can hold their own in the Star Scouts and finally find a place to belong. Kids will devour this fun sci-fi romp full of teamwork, inventiveness, and laughs.
Babymouse dreams of adventure and excitement but every day is the same. That is, until she hears about Felicia Furrypaw’s exclusive slumber party. Will she get an invitation and does she want one if it means abandoning her best friend, Wilson, and their planned monster movie marathon? Kids will love Babymouse’s vibrant imagination and recognize themselves in her rapidly churning thoughts. Fans of the series can check out the many other titles in the series, including Babymouse: Our Hero, Babymouse: Beach Babe, and Babymouse: Rock Star.
Zita the Spacegirl has faced incredible adventure as she tries to get herself and her friend Joseph back to Earth, but now she faces her greatest challenge yet! Wrongfully imprisoned on a penitentiary planet, Zita learns that the warden has a plot to dominate the galaxy but who will believe a convicted criminal? It will take friends both old and new to get Zita out of jail and save the day. This conclusion to Zita the Spacegirl and Legends of Zita the Spacegirl is full of adventure, wordplay, and creative world-building that will keep young readers spellbound.
Princess Mabelrose may not fit the “fair princess” mold, but she’s smart, courageous, and ready for anything! So when she’s captured by an evil dragon, Mabelrose escapes and decides to make her way back home rather than waiting for rescue. She’ll encounter trolls, a tiger king, and perhaps most unexpectedly, someone who might just be her true love. Parents will particularly enjoy how Mabelrose’s strength and courage comes from her loving, supportive family, while kids will enjoy the rollercoaster adventures and detailed artwork. Fans of Mabelrose will want to follow her adventures in the sequels, The Unremembered Lands and The Dragon Queen.
Adrienne Ashe never wanted to be a princess and she likes it even less when her father locks her in a tower at age 16 to wait passively for a prince’s rescue. So when she discovers a sword concealed in her prison, she decides to take matters into her own hands. She befriends her dragon guardian and sets off on a rollicking adventure to find and save her older sisters! With a little help from a clever but odd blacksmith, Bedelia, Adrienne is going to turn the kingdom upside down. Fans of this volume will also enjoy the sequels Book 2: Get Over Yourself, Book 3: The Pirate Princess, and Book 4: Be Yourself.
On the Earth of the future, humans are on the run from an invading alien force that is sucking all the electrical devices they can find. Strata's family are digital rescuers, struggling to find and preserve whatever technology they can — the only link humanity may have to its past civilization. But when Strata and her brother get separated from the caravan, only a rare robot pony can help them escape the dual threats of outlaw humans and power-hungry aliens. Thrilling and inventive, with genuinely intimidating villains, this graphic novel will keep kids turning pages to the end.
When Phoebe is skipping rocks across a pond one day, she's shocked when she accidentally hits... a unicorn! To her surprise, this feat earns her one wish, which she uses to require Marigold Heavenly Nostrils to be her friend. Having a unicorn as a friend is just as awesome as Phoebe had hoped, and together they have some hilarious adventures — but their bond also provides a special connection between the previously lonely girl and unicorn that reminds each of them that they are something special. This box set includes the first four graphic novels in the series, Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Unicorn on a Roll, Unicorn vs. Goblins, and Razzle Dazzle Unicorn.
11-year-old Mirka has no interest in knitting lessons or tips on how to find a husband; instead of settling down in her Orthodox Jewish town, she wants to go off on adventures and fight dragons! In the meantime, she practices in the only ways she can: standing up to bullies one day, battling a large, menacing pig the next. And when a mysterious witch appears with a quest that will get Mirka a real dragon-slaying sword, all of her skills will be tested to the limit! Fans of this charming combination of preteen angst, cultural tradition, and swords and sorcery will also enjoy the sequel, Hereville: How Mirka Met A Meteorite.
After the mysterious Thimblewitch turns Maddy’s parents into kangaroo rats, she and her pet flying toad Ralph have to set off to save them! Going to their rescue won’t be easy: Maddy will have to face spider-goblins, scarecrow warriors, and more. New friends — including cloud cartographers Harry the bear and Silvio the raccoon — can help Maddy along the way, but in the end, her success will depend on her courage, creativity, and compassion. A fun magical debut for young readers!
It all begins when Cleopatra — yes, that Cleopatra — finds a mysterious tablet that transports her through time and space. In the far distant future, she learns, a prophecy says that she will save the galaxy from a tyrant, once she’s learned a few things. Yasiro Academy isn’t much more interesting than her lessons back home — well, except for combat training — but with the help of her talking cat mentor Khensu, Cleopatra will have to learn how to be a great leader and a passable high school student. Cleopatra's story continues in the sequels The Thief and The Sword, Secret of the Time Tablets, and The Golden Lion.
Every night, little lights appear in Sandy's bedroom — lights that she transforms into companions to play with until she falls asleep. The next day, she's always captivated trying to draw her nighttime friends. One day, a girl with purple hair arrives at her school, and to Sandy's surprise, Morfie seems to know all about Sandy's lights. But when it turns out that Morfie intends to enter Sandy's night world and take it over, Sandy will have to muster all of her confidence and determination to fight off the invader. Exquisitely illustrated, this thoughtful graphic novel will prompt discussions about creativity, insecurity, and gaining control of your fears.
All Blue wants is to sell copies of the Bugle, the only newspaper in her war-torn town that actually tells the truth — but in the city's struggling economy, girls are supposed to help by selling cookies, not papers. So the orphan disguises herself as a boy and soon finds herself happy in the newsies' communal house. But as it becomes obvious that her mentor, Jack, and her new best friend, Crow, have their own secrets — and that something big is going on with a missing weapon — Blue begins to realize that she may have to reveal her secret if she's going to save her friends... and finally get to live as her true self. This intriguing graphic novel is first in a new series; young readers will eagerly await the next volume.
Delia Bean thinks the summer at her uncle's estate will be a bore until she discovers the Time Museum's summer internship program. It turns out that the Time Museum accepts interns as young as 12 — from every time period in history! Delia is accepted and finds herself training alongside a girl from 23rd century Japan and boys from prehistory and the Roman era. But can these unexpected friendships survive both the intense competition and a mysterious threat to the Time Museum itself? With vibrant colors and expressive character design, author/illustrator Matthew Loux has created an appealing and exciting cast of characters for a new series that will captivate tween readers.
The story of Rapunzel gets a swashbuckling twist in this fun graphic novel! Rapunzel’s life in Mother Gothel’s villa should be idyllic, but she’s curious about what life is like beyond its walls and why she keeps dreaming of another family. When her curiosity leads to a shocking discovery, Mother Gothel banishes her but Rapunzel escapes thanks to her extraordinary hair. Now, with the help of Calamity Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame), Rapunzel is determined to see justice done. This fairy tale reimagining with a Wild West flair is sure to delight young readers.
Catrina's family is moving to Bahia de la Luna, where the coastal air will help Maya's cystic fibrosis symptoms. Cat misses her friends and resents being forced to move, but she loves her sister and is terrified of Maya getting sick. So when their neighbor tells them that Bahia de la Luna is home to ghosts — spirits of ancestors who watch over them — Cat wants nothing to do with them... and is horrified to discover that Maya seems fascinated by the ghosts. As the Day of the Dead approaches, and Cat meets the ghosts face to face, she'll learn more about the Mexican side of her heritage — and learn to set her fears aside, for both Maya's sake and her own. This original graphic novel by the author / illustrator of best-selling graphic novels Smile, Sisters, and Drama is sure to delight your Raina Telgemeier fan!
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline will love this graphic novel adaptation. After entering an alternate world that seems like a strange (but better) mirror of her own, Coraline discovers that it’s important to be careful what you wish for — while this world is full of interesting things and delicious treats, it’s also home to the “other mother” who intends to keep her forever! And when Coraline’s real parents are kidnapped into the other world, she’ll have to find a way to free all three of them. Russell’s realistic illustrations make the other world even more eerie; kids will also enjoy getting to compare the images in the graphic novel to how they pictured the characters in the book.
Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are best friends who are looking forward to a fun few weeks at camp, that is, until they see a woman turn into a giant bear! Suddenly, the friends find themselves in the midst of mysterious and supernatural adventures. Fortunately, “Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types” can provide them with all the skills they need. It’s going to be quite the unexpected summer! This collection gathers issues 1 to 4 of this fun series, which also makes reference to inspiring women of history. Fans of the first volume will also want to check out the rest of the Lumberjanes series, including the newest release, Lumberjanes, Volume 6: Sink or Swim.
Young Hilda lives in a mountainous land and has few responsibilities — other than staying out of Deep Trouble. But when she chases after a mysterious tinkling bell, she discovers herself on a journey through strange worlds full of magic and mystery! Pearson’s story of small wood men, blue foxes with antlers, and one precocious little girl feels like a folk tale, and is full of vivid and colorful artwork. Fans of Hilda will enjoy following her adventures in Hilda and the Midnight Giant and Hilda and the Bird Parade, which follow Hilda as she moves from her beloved mountains to the big city of Trollberg. You can view the full list of Hildafolk books here.
Grunhilda's family have always been witches, but now that no one believes in witches anymore and she's left hunting for other employment. Fortunately, she stumbles across a job that might be perfect for someone who can cook up pots of foul goo: lunch lady! Before long, a clever young student figures out who Grunhilda is. Grunhilda admires her spunk, but realizes that Madison is struggling both at school and at home. Witches don't help people, but maybe Grunhilda can make an exception, just this once. This quirky, silly story will have readers looking twice at the people stirring the pot in their school cafeteria. Fans of the series can check out the second volume, Lunch Witch: Knee-deep in Niceness.
L. Frank Baum’s classic gets a dramatic, vivid treatment from Marvel Illustrated! This graphic novel adaptation sticks close to the original novel, avoiding some of the changes in the 1939 movie, as it depicts farm girl Dorothy’s accidental arrival in the mysterious land of Oz and the chaos she causes as she tries to find her way home. Fans of this adaptation will want to check out Ozma of Oz by the same pair or, for the full Oz treatment, check out Shanower and Young’s Oz Omnibus, which collects all six graphic novels, plus a Wizard of Oz Sketchbook and the Oz Primer.
Lunella Lafayette is a preteen supergenius with a dangerous secret: she harbors the Inhuman gene, which could turn her into something monstrous if she contacts terrigen mist. She's also learned that, no matter how much she wants to change the world, it takes more than big brains to do the job. When Lunella stumbles across a red-scaled dinosaur that's been transported from the past to the present, she ends up forming an unlikely partnership with the beast. But can she stop a cult of thugs called the Killer Folk, avoid the mist, and still keep up with a mundane day of school? This first volume introduces a fascinating new heroine (and her equally fascinating partner) into the broader Marvel universe. For more of Moon Girl's story, check out Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Volume 2: Cosmic Cooties.
After tragedy strikes their family, Emily and Navin’s mother Karen decides to move the family to their great-grandfather’s house in the little town of Norlen. The locals believe the house is haunted, but the family discounts the rumors — until Karen is kidnapped by a monster! Emily and Navin discover they will have to follow her into another world if they want to reunite their family. Along the way, Emily discovers a stone amulet and learns that she has powers she didn’t know she possessed. This box set collects the first seven volumes of this popular and critically-acclaimed graphic novel series; for a single volume of the first book in the series, check out Amulet: The Stonekeeper.
Korra and Asami return in this official continuation of The Legend of Korra! As they leave the Spirit World, excited to explore their new feelings for one another, Korra and Asami stumble into yet another problem. A developer is planning to turn the portal into an amusement park, but that could sever the connection between the worlds — and at the same time, the triads are having an all-out war on Republic City's borders, right on top of hundreds of evacuees. Korra and Asami can help... but only if they improve their teamwork (both personally and professionally.) Fans of the Nickelodeon TV series will be thrilled with this new graphic novel series.
Priyanka Das is full of questions that her mother won't answer — about India, the homeland her mother abandoned, and about Pri's father, who she's never known. But when Pri stumbles across a pashmina in a forgotten suitcase, she discovers that it can transport her to a colorful, vivid world, more exciting than any Bollywood film. That only leads Pri to more questions, though — like whether this is the real India, or just a product of her imagination, and what shadow lurking in the background might be. And when her mother surprises her with a trip to the actual India, Pri might just find the answers to some of her questions. Many young readers will identify with this heartfelt graphic novel's exploration of issues like generational / culture clash and the search for identity.
The world of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy bursts into life in this stunning graphic novel adaptation! With full-color art, this graphic novel collects all three volumes of the story of Lyra Belacqua as she discovers her role in Lord Asriel's ambitions to build a bridge to another world. Young fans of the series will be particularly delighted to see the daemons — animal companions — drawn with the perfect combination of drama and humor. With its intriguing examination of religion, science, and magic, as well as powerful questions about what you will give up for someone you love, this is an excellent way to introduce new readers to Lyra's world.
Mira is a mermaid, and for as long as she can remember, she's lived in a boardwalk aquarium owned by "King Neptune," the man she believes rescued her. But when she meets an ordinary girl, an unexpected friendship begins to grow — something that's much appreciated by the lonely Mira. That friendship, though, makes Mira question everything that she knows. Is King Neptune really the rescuer she believes him to be — and even if he is, why does he treat her so poorly? And why should she stay in an aquarium when she dreams of freedom? Author Donna Jo Napoli and author / illustrator David Weisner team up to create a magical and thought-provoking story that's sure to generate conversation.
Hope Larson brilliantly adapts Madeline L’Engle’s classic book into graphic novel format! Meg Murray just knows that her scientist father didn’t abandon the family, but she’s not sure she can find proof... until one stormy night, a mysterious stranger declares that the tesseract — the wrinkle in time — is real. Now Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and her neighbor Calvin O’Keefe must adventure through time if they want to have any hope of bringing Meg’s father home. This classic story of space, time, good, and evil, will be a hit with any science fiction fan.
Captain Yuri is trapped in the past until she redeems herself by righting a terrible wrong; until then, she’ll sail the seas as a pirate. When she saves Princess Noelle, who was being held hostage after her parents were killed and her brother was kidnapped, the unlikely pair realize that they each hold the key to the other’s solution. Noelle must find her brother and Yuri must stop the evil she set in motion, and then, finally, they can both return home. This fun adventure full of mystery, treachery, and destiny is sure to intrigue middle readers.
Masha is looking for an adventure and a place to call her own. Unlike many of her peers, she both believes the legends her grandmother taught her about the fearsome witch Baba Yaga and is courageous enough to seek her out anyway. Masha is clever enough to find Baba Yaga's hut on chicken legs, but if she wants to become the witch's assistant, she'll have to pass several tests — all while living in a place where deceit is the rule and where children are on the dinner menu (though not for long with Masha's intervention)! This vivid graphic novel will fascinate anyone who likes imagining the denizens of fairy tales living in our modern world.
With her mysterious squirrel powers, Doreen Green, a.k.a. Squirrel Girl, has defeated supervillains when other heroes of the Marvel universe have met their match! Now, Squirrel Girl finally has her own comic series. In this volume, which collects issues 1 to 5, Doreen is moving out of the Avengers mansion — along with her squirrel sidekick, Tippy Toe — to start a computer science degree at the university. But trouble seems to follow her and soon she’s up against Kraven the Hunter, Whiplash, and even the mighty Galactus, all while dealing with classwork, crushes, and all the other business of college! Squirrel Girl is a lighthearted superhero story, perfect for younger Marvel fans.
Five myths starring the Greek goddess of wisdom, craft, and war get an exciting graphic telling in this book from the Olympians series! From the moment of her birth, leaping from Zeus' head, to stories of her interactions with Perseus, Medusa, and Arachne, George O'Connor tells Athena's story with an energy and vigor that will make young readers realize that the goddesses were the original superheroes. Modernized dialogue and exciting artwork draw tween and teen readers in, while notes in the back matter provide information for those curious to learn more about Greek mythology. Fans of this title can also check out Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt and Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory.
When Princess Amira rescues Princess Sadie from a tower, the pair couldn't be more different: Amira is heroic, with her dark hair in a mohawk and her sword in her hand, while Sadie is blonde-haired and kind-hearted, everything a "traditional" princess should be. Nevertheless, they become fast friends, and they soon decide to cooperate on a big problem: a jealous sorceress who wants to get rid of Sadie altogether. But as they cooperate to save the day, the pair becomes more than friends. It's time for these princesses to figure out what "true love" and "happily ever after" means — and if, in their case, it means falling for one another. Entertaining and full of adventure, this story's emphasis on the power of true love — even if found in an unexpected place — will leave young readers smiling.
Mighty Girl Graphic Novels about Real Life
When Birdie's plans to make her birthday a treat for her whole class go awry, who can save the day? Why, her alter ego, the Amazing Crafty Cat! The Amazing Crafty Cat will know the perfect solution — and even the class bully, Anya, won't deter her. Once Birdie has transformed, sticky paws and paper cuts are no obstacle to helping the class celebrate the best birthday break ever. This early reader graphic novel is the first in a trilogy about this resilient and imaginative new character, and includes instructions for six easy projects for kids to try. Fans of the first volume can also check out the second, Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis.
In this gentle historical fiction graphic novel, Dounia, now a grandmother, tells her granddaughter about her life in Paris during the Nazi occupation. The story begins with seemingly little hurts, like being ostracized by former friends and being forced to wear the yellow star. But when police break into her home, her parents hide her behind a secret panel to keep her from being arrested along with them. Thus began her hidden life, as friends and neighbors risked their lives to keep her safe from the concentration camps. This tender story teaches young readers Holocaust history in an age-appropriate way, and celebrates the role that a grandparent can play in opening a child’s mind to the wider world.
9-year-old Amelia is adjusting to life in a small town after moving out of New York City following her parents' divorce. Fortunately, there are a lot of people in her corner, including her mom, her aunt the ex-rock star, and her friends. They don’t make the world any less crazy, but at least they make sure she’s got a soft spot to land! This Eisner Award-nominated series is sure to be relatable to any young reader who feels like life doesn’t always make sense. This set includes paperback editions of the first eight volumes of this series: The Whole World's Crazy, What Makes You Happy, Superheroes, When the Past Is a Present, The Tweenage Guide to Not Being Unpopular, True Things (Adults Don't Want Kids to Know), The Meaning of Life — and Other Stuff, and Her Permanent Record.
Ever since she met their novelist neighbor, Mrs. Flores, 10-year-old Cici has known that she wants to write books, too. So she figures the best way to become a great author is to watch people — especially adults — watching for their one special secret that tells you so much about who they are. Along the way, Cici will solve a couple of mysteries — but she'll also discover that you can get so busy tracking down a mystery that you forget to pay attention to your friends and family. This graphic novel, told in a combination of journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, provides just the right mix of mystery, adventure, and real-life challenges.
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends forever, but things start to change when Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the leader of the elementary school's popular clique known as The Group. To be in The Group, you have to do everything Jen says — even if that means bullying others. Shannon will need to decide whether being part of The Group is worth it... and figure out how to stand up for herself if it's not. Young Shannon’s day dreams hint at her future as a bestselling author, while LeUyen Pham's appealing illustrations still underscore how alienated Shannon feels with The Group and how comfortable she feels with other friends. This graphic novel memoir from beloved author Shannon Hale about navigating the challenges of friendship and discovering what it means to be a real friend will resonate with many young readers.
When Bessie’s dreams of flight were grounded by US flight schools that wouldn’t admit a black woman, she wouldn’t let that stop her! She taught herself French and, in 1920, traveled to France to get her international pilot’s license, then returned to America to wow the crowds with her stunt flying. This graphic biography is a great way to introduce kids to Coleman’s story, and the graphic format makes it more accessible to reluctant readers. Readers can also check out books featuring other women of history from the Graphic Library series, including Harriet Tubman, the famous Underground Railroad conductor; Rosa Parks, the Civil Rights hero; Hedy Lamarr, the actress and inventor; and Madam C.J. Walker, entrepreneur and first self-made female millionaire.
Emmie is quiet, artistic, shy, and self-conscious — and feels practically invisible in the halls of her middle school. Katie, on the other hand, is outgoing, athletic, and confident. The one thing they share in common is a crush on a classmate. When the sappy love note Emmie wrote as a joke is made public by a bully, she's humiliated; but to Emmie's surprise, Katie comes to her defense. Soon Katie is urging Emmie to finally make her voice be heard — and a surprising twist reveals that the two girls have more in common than anyone imagined. The story is told in alternating chapters, with Emmie appearing as scrunched doodles around the text, and Katie in full-color, splashy comic panels, highlighting the difference in their personalities. This empowering graphic novel carries a powerful message about facing down embarrassment and standing up for yourself.
After a childhood illness, young CeCe experiences hearing loss that leaves her dependent on hearing aids and lip reading to understand the people around her. Fitting in at school is tough when she has to wear a bulky hearing apparatus – the "Phonic Ear" – to understand her teachers. Everything changes, however, when she discovers that the Phonic Ear gives her a superpower of – she can hear the teachers talking all the way in the teachers' lounge! As CeCe begins to embrace her alter ego, "El Deafo, Listener for All," she comes to realize that what makes her different might just be what she needs to find her place. Based on Bell’s real-life experiences as a hard of hearing child, this 2015 Newbery Honor and Eisner Award-winning graphic novel is a great way to encourage empathy with those who perceive the world in different ways.
Telgemeier’s semi-autobiographical graphic novels have millions of fans – Smile was a New York Times bestseller! Now, the two books are available in this box set. In Smile, an accident leads to a long road of orthodontics, surgery, and more for Raina – all while she’s trying to navigate the challenges of middle school. In Sisters, the little sister that Raina hoped for has grown into a cranky, solitary child, totally different than she imagined. But when their parents’ relationship starts to get rocky, Raina and Amara realize that they can always depend on one another. These authentic and thoughtful graphic novels will strike a chord with any reader coming of age.
As the battles of the 2003 war in Iraq draw near, librarian Alia Muhammad Baker fears for the irreplaceable books and documents of the Basra Library, which represent the history and culture of her country. The library is being used as a shield by city and military officials, putting the country at risk of losing its recorded memory. So Alia begins bringing home a few books at a time – stuffed in her purse, hidden under her shawl, wherever she can fit them. First her home, then the homes of her neighbors and friends, become repositories for her precious rescued books – all in hopes of rebuilding the library when peace finally comes. This stunning graphic novel hails a little-known heroine of Iraq’s modern history, and also provides an excellent starting point for a discussion about history and the need to protect it.
Eleven-year-old Imogene (Impy) has grown up in the Renaissance Faire where her parents work, and she's dreamed of being a squire for years. She wants to prove her bravery, so she chooses one of the most daunting quests she can imagine — she'll go to middle school after a life of being homeschooled! But it's hard to be a noble would-be knight when you're surrounded by a group of girls who seem nice (until they aren't), and when you're feeling newfound embarrassment about your family's "weird" life. And when Impy does something mean in an effort to fit in, she begins to wonder if she's got what it takes to be a knight — and how she can turn herself around and make things right. This funny and heartfelt graphic novel celebrates what it truly means to be brave.
When Astrid discovers a new passion, she suddenly realizes that her best friend Nicole may not be willing to follow her everywhere: instead of joining Astrid at roller derby camp, Nicole signs up for dance camp instead! The summer is hard enough without her friend by her side, and gets harder when Astrid discovers that roller derby is hard work. The older girls aren’t inclined to go easy on the newbies, and Astrid feels like everything is going wrong. But her first bout might just turn things around – and not just in the roller derby rink. This fun and heartfelt graphic novel, written by a real-life derby girl, is sure to delight kids who have discovered new interests as they grow older.
Abbie Wu's mother doesn't seem to get that things are going to be a disaster! No matter what's going on in Abbie's life, she's sure it's going to be awful — and now she's starting middle school, which surely will mean even more potential pitfalls. Worst of all, everyone around her seems to be finding their Thing, and Abbie most definitely isn't. This hybrid novel blends heavy illustration with casual, conversational text to capture Abbie's struggles with her anxiety, as well as her growing confidence as she figures out that she's capable of more than she thought possible.
It’s 1976, and instead of spending the summer with her friends, 10-year-old Sunny has been banished to her grandfather’s retirement community in Florida while her parents struggle to get her brother’s drug and alcohol problems under control. Sunny isn’t thrilled to be spending months in Pine Palms, but as time goes on, she develops a closer relationship with her grandfather, meets a new friend, and discovers a new art form: comic books! This funny but heartfelt graphic novel tackles the issue of addiction and how it affects a family with sensitivity, and anyone who’s found refuge in a good comic will recognize the power of Sunny’s discovery. Fans of Sunny can continue her story in the newly released Swing It, Sunny.
As a slave in the early 19th century, Araminta Ross got to see just how bad the abuses of slave-owners could get. So despite the risk, she took off for places north of the Mason-Dixon line, where slavery was illegal and she could be free. She changed her name to Harriet Tubman... and then she went back. Tubman couldn't bring herself to leave others in bondage, so she spent the rest of her life helping other enslaved people escape. This book from the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series paints a dramatic portrait of a truly courageous woman. For more books about Tubman, visit our Harriet Tubman Collection.
Siena was six when she first started dreaming of being a dancer – a real dancer, like the ones on stage. This beautiful graphic novel follows Siena from her first dance lessons in Puerto Rico, to New York and the School of American Ballet, and finally to her choices about a dance career. Along the way, she also has to deal with her parents’ separation and divorce, the inevitable foot pain and leg injuries that come with intense training, and questions about whether dance will really fulfill her forever, but she also experiences incredible joys: dancing with the New York City Ballet, and working with her idol, ballet master George Balanchine. For any lover of the arts, this graphic novel provides a remarkable window into a ballerina’s world.
Fans of Ann M. Martin’s long-running series will love these full color graphic novel editions, adapted by best-selling author / illustrator Raina Telegemeier! When Kristy has the idea to create a club of baby-sitters to get more baby-sitting jobs, she enlists her two friends Mary Anne and Claudia, and later new friends Stacey and Dawn. No new business goes smoothly, but with friendship to see them through, the baby-sitters will create something extra-special! This set includes the first four full-color graphic novel adaptations: Kristy's Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves The Day, and Claudia and Mean Janine. Fans of this graphic novel series can also get Gale Galligan's adaptation of the fifth book, Dawn and the Impossible Three.
Helene is struggling after being suddenly ostracized by her former friends, who now murmur insults and lies behind her back. To escape, Helene plunges into Jane Eyre — but a fictional character is no help when she finds herself humiliated and alone on a school trip. The sighting of a beautiful fox lifts Helene’s spirits temporarily, until another girl chases it away. Then a new girl, Geraldine, arrives in the outcasts’ circle, seemingly unconcerned about the social danger. Soon, Helene realizes that the less time she spends worrying about what the other girls think of her, the more she is able to see that there’s nothing wrong with her at all. This honest and stunning graphic novel reminds kids that connecting with someone — human, fox, or fictional character — can give you the strength to make it through anything.
Before Helen Keller could become a role model for the capabilities of people with disabilities, she needed a remarkable and determined teacher. When Annie meets Helen, she is six years old and nearly uncontrollable, trapped in a world of silence and darkness. Despite the frustration of both teacher and student, Annie finally breaks through the barriers separating Helen from the world. This graphic novel captures the intense emotional bond between this remarkable pair, giving new depth to this inspiring story.
All Summer LongNew!
All Summer LongNew!
In this new graphic novel from Hope Larson, 13-year-old Bina has one more summer before eighth grade, and it's going to be a tough one: her best friend Austin usually sets their course but he's away at soccer camp (and he hasn't been acting himself anyway.) Without Austin, Bina discovers a passion for the guitar and makes some new friends — including Austin's older sister, who loves music too. But when Austin comes home, Bina will need to find a way to establish her own identity but reconcile their differences so their friendship can survive. In a summer where Bina's mom observes she's "becoming more you every day," a lot can change, but that makes old friendships all the sweeter.
Vera is desperate to fit in with her suburbian friends — but for a Russian immigrant with a single mother, that's not easy. The other girls in the neighborhood all go to summer camp, so when she finds out that her family's church will help pay for a Russian Orthodox camp, she convinces her mother to let her go. The reality of camp, though — complete with Russian history lessons, stinky outhouses, and peer drama — isn't quite what she imagined! Fortunately, with time, Vera achieves some real triumphs! Author / illustrator Vera Brosgol deftly combines emotional honesty and belly laughs in this autobiographical graphic novel.
Peppi Torres knows that the two cardinal rules of school are 1) don’t get noticed by the mean kids and 2) seek out groups with similar interests and join them. But on her first day, she trips into quiet Jaime, and immediately starts getting teased as the “nerder girlfriend”! Peppi doesn’t handle the moment well, and even as she finds friends in the art club, she’s ashamed about how she treated Jaime. But then she learns that the art club’s archrivals, the science club, are ready to battle it out — and that Jaime is one of them! At its core, this funny and thoughtful graphic novel teaches an important lesson about the value of kindness, while chronicling some of the challenges encountered by middle school students in their world of rapidly changing social relations.
This exhaustive, illustrated biography tells the whole story of inspirational Mighty Girl Anne Frank, from the lives of her parents, to her childhood in Frankfurt and then in Amsterdam, and finally to occupation and Anne’s years in the Secret Annex. The biography also covers Otto Frank’s return to Amsterdam and the story of the publication – and remarkable public reception – of Anne’s diary. This unique look at Anne and her writing makes this piece of history come to life for middle readers.
Lily Renee Wilhelm was 14 years old when the Nazis marched into Austria, and her life was changed forever. Terrified of what Nazi rule means, Lily Renee’s parents send her to England alone, to wait until they can join her. Lily struggles to learn a new language and takes what work she can find until she receives words from her parents, who have made their way to America, and overcomes unexpected obstacles in order to join them. After responding to a newspaper ad, Lily finds an unexpected career as a comic illustrator – and becomes a pioneer for women in the comic industry. Kids will be fascinated by this true tale, which proves that truth – complete with daring escapes and false accusations of spying – is stranger than fiction.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more Mighty Girl graphic novels for children and teens, check out our entire collection of the Top Graphic Novels Starring Mighty Girls.
- For more books exploring the near or distant past, visit our History & Biography section.
- For novels set in a real-world environment, visit our Realistic Fiction section .