I thought I would review and update my 19 Graphic Novels for Feisty Girls post. After reading a few more years of graphic novels, I’ve gathered up my favorite graphic novels for girls, ages 6 and up. What are your favorite graphic novels for girls? Thanks for sharing! I’ll add them to this list!
Favorite Graphic Novels for Girls Ages 6 and Up
Dragons Beware series by
Claudette is not afraid of anything. Giants or dragons don’t faze her, in fact, she’s ready to take them on, especially the dragon that ate her father’s legs and his legendary sword. With her best friend Marie and her little brother Gaston at her side, she sets off on another hilarious adventure. [graphic novel, ages 6 and up]
Phoebe and Her Unicorn series by Dana Simpson
Anyone who has loved the comedic humor of Calvin and Hobbes but wished it skewed younger will delight in Phoebe and Her Unicorn. Phoebe is Calvin … a kid going through the trials of everyday life that includes girl bullies at school. Marigold Heavenly Nostrils is her unicorn with magical powers and the same dry observational wit of Hobbes. Together, Phoebe and Marigold traverse the perils of school, piano lessons without having practiced and awkward birthday parties. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
The Lunch Lady series by Jarrett Krosoczka
It all started with a school visit at his old school when Jarrett was grown up and out in the world presenting his books. He ran into his old lunch lady and the thought crossed his mind: “she doesn’t live at my school?!” Hence, the lunch lady series was born, and with it, readers realize the heroes can exist under your nose without you realizing. This is a fun series that gets kids reading. [graphic novel series, ages 6 and up]
Zita the Space Girl series by Ben Hatke
Zita the Spacegirl hits the mighty girl note perfectly. She’s an “every girl” but with a kind heart making friends in unlikely places, and her adventures usually result from her trying to help someone in need. With a giant mouse for a friend (and transport) and traveling in new worlds that are not too scary against foes that have a cuteness to their destructive powers, her adventures are perfect for little girls’ bedtime reading. [graphic novel, ages 7 and up]
Cleopatra in Space series by Mike Maihack
For fans of Zita the Space Girl, young Cleo (Cleopatra of Ancient Egypt) could be Zita’s literary sister. Both are stranded through time travel into the future where the fate of the world rests in their hands. Cleo finds school boring both in Ancient Egypt and in the future, but her weapons get a serious upgrade from a slingshot to laser gun! References to Ancient Egypt are abundant in Cleo’s time travel future, with talking cats giving the orders. The future has been expecting Cleo as an ancient oracle has predicted her arrival as their hero that can turn darkness into light. Perfectly paced action will interest boys, and girls will appreciate Cleo’s fighting skills combined with her social conundrums. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson
Violet Marlocke lives on the wrong side of the asteroid belt. Because of the galaxy-wide energy crisis, her father has taken a dangerous mission and he’s now missing. Violet and her misfit friends are off to rescue him in an adventure that includes baby space whales, top-secret energy research, and a garbage-filled galaxy. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by
This is a great way for kids to learn about everyday life in Wuhan, China in 1976. Set at the end of the Cultural Revolution, Na Liu’s tells her own story during the years China made great strides to modernize. This graphic novel is about small moments seen through the eyes of a young girl, rather than the larger political upheaval. Her life was filled with small tender moments despite living on the cusp of great change. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Cece Bell’s hearing loss as a small child made going to school and making friends that much tougher. Her Phonic Ear helped her hearing — in fact, it can even give her super hearing — but its bulkiness makes her feel different. Is there a way to turn her disability into a superpower? [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
I really liked this graphic novel about a sister with cystic fibrosis combined with a Day of the Dead theme. But then I read Deb Reese’s review about the Spanish-speaking ghosts in the Mission being problematic. I think her point is exactly why this book should get attention.
I grew up in Southern California, visiting several missions both there, in San Antonio and in Northern California. Never in the missions or in history class were we ever taught about how the Catholics converted the indigenous people in that area.
“At the missions, life for Native people was brutal. There was rape. Enslavement. Whippings. Confinements. And of course, death. Analyses of the bones at the mission burial sites that compare them with bones found elsewhere show that the bones of those who died at the missions were stunted and smaller than the others.” American Indians In Children’s Literature
In the foreword, written by Valentin Lopez, Chair of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band of the Costanoan/Ohlone Indians. He writes:
Until now, the true and full history of the California missions has never been told. When visitors tour the missions, they are usually presented with stories and images of peaceful, loving priests and soldiers who treated the Indians as adored children.
These stories belie the truth of the missions, where Native Americans suffered under harsh and brutal conditions. As a young boy, I listened to stories from my elders about the cruelty of the missions. There were tales of how native women were captured— with their thumbs tied together with leather straps to form human chains— and marched forcibly from their tribal lands to the missions. If the Indians did not cooperate, the soldiers, at times, killed them. In one incident, more than two hundred women and children of the Orestimba tribe (living near what is now the town of Newman) were being taken to Mission San Juan Bautista. When, after passing the summit at the Orestimba Narrows, these women refused to go any farther, the Spanish commander ordered the women and children killed with sabers and their remains scattered.
The oral traditions of our tribal band, the Amah Mutsun, taught us stories of how certain Spaniards would appear when the Indians were first brought into the missions so they could get their pick of the young girls and boys for their perverted appetites, always with the tacit approval of the priests.
Catholics get to write their own version of history? Is that what has happened? There is no accounting or accountability for their history? Is a glossed overview of The Spanish Inquisition all kids will get?
I don’t blame Raina for not knowing this important piece of history or criticize her for lack of research. It has been too long, carefully hidden away, purposefully. I think it is time to bring it to light. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Here are criticisms of Ghosts that I found from Ms. Yingling Reads:
Bottom line: Ghosts is great for a deeper discussion but readers will enjoy Raina’s latest graphic novel, as they do all of her books.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm
This is on my list for Domestic Violence Books for Kids. Jennifer and Matt write:
“Sometimes it’s hard to be a kid. It can be even harder when someone you love has a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
Like Sunny, we had a close relative who had serious issues with substance abuse. As children, we were bystanders to this behavior and yet it affected our whole world. It made us feel ashamed and embarrassed and scared and sad. Most of all, it was something we felt we had to keep secret.” [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Rollergirl by Victoria Jamieson
If you like Raina Telgemeir’s Smile series, this is as close as it gets. Roller Girl has the same coming-of-age friendship issues that most middle school girls seem to have when extracurricular interests and interest boys demarcate friendships. For Astrid, her best friend Nicole who likes dance and boys doesn’t want to join her in roller derby camp. It only makes it worse that Astrid’s arch-enemy Rachel seems to be replacing her as Nicole’s new best friend. Roller derby camp is a lot tougher than Astrid predicted but she sticks with it and, in the process, makes a new best and discovers her inner beast. [graphic novel, ages 10 and up]
Smile by Raina Telgemeier
Raina’s real-life stories make for great drama as coming-of-age graphic novels that all middle school girls can relate to, even if they don’t require extensive dental work, participate in high school drama productions or have a sister. Middle school girls will recognize these same issues that Raina faces: shifting friendships, those small moments of discovering who you are, and boy/girl confusion. Raina’s graphic novels are my secret weapon to get reluctant middle school girls reading! [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Drama and Smile are my two favorite Raina Telgemeier graphic novels. While Drama is not a sequel to Smile, it feels a little like that in that there are similar elements of teenage angst trying to fit in and boy problems. [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
This semi-autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Vera’s childhood as she seeks to fit in and make friends as a socially awkward kid. We don’t really understand why she’s having trouble socially. Vera thinks her failed slumber party is because her family is too Russian and poor but it’s more likely something else since her younger brother has no issues socially. Vera’s friends all go to sleepaway camp, a luxury denied her because her single mother is in college getting her accounting degree. When she discovers that her Russian Orthodox church has a church camp and gives financial aid, she persuades her mother to send her and her brother. Vera struggles socially at Russian camp also, but it’s because of the age differences between herself and the mostly much older girls. Vera uses her artistic skills to win over her roommates but that backfires. Vera is determined to make her camping experience successful and we root for her as she makes her first friend and becomes her camp’s heroine by beating the boys at Capture The Flag. I hope that Vera’s adventures continue with a sequel as she and her family head to England for her mother’s new job.
Graphic novels have never been honored with a Newbery but I hope this year is different. Fans of Smile, Drama, and Roller Girl will enjoy this tween girl journey of finding yourself and fitting in. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Realistic Fiction with Fantasy Surprise Graphic Novels for Girls
Lumberjanes series by
The Lumberjanes are a kind of “Girl Scout” group at a sleepaway camp in the woods. This particular cabin is made up of intrepid girls who like to explore at night though it is against the rules of their camp counselor Jen. There are strange creatures at night including a three-eyed fox and a bear woman who warns them about the kitten holy. The creatures only get weirder as our campers set to work acquiring badges. There’s a cliffhanger but don’t worry. This is a series! [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I discovered Nimona backward from the rest of the world. I read and loved Lumberjanes first. It turns out that Nimona is Noelle Stevenson’s two-page art-school experiment started while she was an art student at Maryland Institute College of Art. (My daughter and I are headed there later to check it out. It’s supposed to be a fabulous art college!). By the time she graduated from art school, Nimona was huge success winning Slate‘s Best Web Comic Of The Year prize in 2013. Now in book form, it was a National Book Award finalist! [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
Foiled by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
In Foiled, Aliera’s single-minded focus on fencing might pay off by taking her to the nationals, but it also makes her feel isolated from her peers. She’s ok with that … until a new boy comes to her school. Avery Castle is too beautiful to ignore and he seems to be very interested in her or is it just her fencing skills? Her best friend is her wheelchair-bound cousin and their role-playing games end up more real than she could possibly imagine.
Aliera’s first date with Avery ends up in an adventure that makes her realize that there’s more to her jewel-encrusted fencing foil that her mom bought her at a yard sale. [graphic novel, ages 10 and up]
Clever Fractured Fairy Tales turned Graphic Novel
Rapunzel’s Revenge by
For those who like fractured fairy tales, this rollicking graphic novel combines Rapunzel with Jack and the Beanstalk in a kind of dystopian Western setting. Rapunzel is no damsel in distress; she’s figured out how to braid her tresses for use as a weapon. Jack is a renegade on the run and their blossoming romance takes this story from fairy tale to middle grade territory. This graphic novel is the perfect blend of humor and action! [graphic novel, ages 10 and up]
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
My arty daughter doesn’t like the softly rendered illustrations in this graphic novel that reimagines Snow White as a Great Depression story. Matt Phelan makes this fractured fairy tale work beautifully! My daughter thinks there isn’t enough contrast with his images which have the monotone of a faded sepia daguerreotype photograph but she didn’t actually read his book or she would realize that Matt Phelan uses color to convey mood like the movie The Wizard of Oz. I’ve always liked his storytelling and I hope this graphic novel wins. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
They Will Do Their Own Rescuing, Thank You Very Much Graphic Novels
Princeless series by
Fractured fairy tales are upended in this graphic novel with princesses of color and indomitable spirit. Princess Adrienne’s sixteenth birthday present by her parents is being locked in a tower, awaiting rescue from a prince. She’s not willing to play such a passive role. Not only can she rescue herself, but she’s off to find her older sisters to release them from their imprisonment. Surprises abound, both for Adrienne and her parents. It turns out that she’s not the only princess with a backbone. [graphic novel, ages 7 and up]
Deliah Dirk series by Tony Cliff
If Indiana Jones and Wonder Woman had a baby girl, she would be Delilah Dirk. Anyone who saw her fight would say that she’s even better at hand-to-hand combat than her mother, given that she doesn’t have a lasso of truth, indestructible bracelets or a projectile tiara. She doesn’t need these gadgets for her adventures that include rescuing others, usually men. Delilah may not have superhero powers but, even better, she’s a strong and fearless role model for girls! [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Rebecca Guay
If you took a Tolkien novel with a dragon terrorizing the land and made it a graphic novel that sounded like it was from days of yore but with a strong female character, you’d get The Last Dragon. Written in lyrical prose as only Jane Yolen can do, this is an epic tale of the last dragon emerging after all human eating dragons were thought dead. Tansy, the daughter of an herbal healer, is the heroine of the day. Her courage and plan make an unlikely hero successful in vanquishing the last dragon from the land. [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by
A Wrinkle in Time is one of my favorite books growing up, and this graphic novel treatment is a treat for fans. It also makes the book accessible to those who want a shorter version. [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
Great Series That My Son Loves
Olympian series by George O’Connor
Percy Jackson fans will enjoy this series about the Greek gods. O’Connor ties together lesser-known stories about the gods in this action-packed series that gamers like my son will enjoy. You don’t have to read the books in any particular order either, so just start with your favorite gods, and let one book draw you into the entire series. That’s what happened to us! [graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
Amulet series by Kazu Kibuishi
My husband and son rave about the Amulet series, so much so that they want me to get early release editions of the latest book. Sadly, I don’t have that kind of clout. This series is a heady mix of fantasy/science fiction created with the immense and mind-blowing imagination of a creative genius. The story is fast paced and also contains a strong girl character. I thought it was a tad scary but my son thinks I am ridiculous. He’s been reading this series since about 4th grade. [graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
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