I am constantly looking out for new graphic novels for my library. As an international school, we have a lot of students whose English language skills are still developing. Many are learning English as their second, third, or even fourth language. The visual nature of graphic novels makes them excellent choices for these students. My native English speakers love them, too! For this list, I wanted to highlight graphic novels for middle-grade girls, those in fifth, sixth, and seventh grade. I am in no way saying that boys don’t read these books (they do), but these books have mass appeal for the young ladies.
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|Awkward (Svetlana Chmakova), 2015
This adorable book features a large cast of diverse characters, full color illustrations, and a super-cute story about Peppi, a quiet, artsy student who is brand-new to her middle school. Read my review here.
|Smile (Raina Telgemeier), 2009
Sixth grader Raina trips and damages her two front teeth. In the aftermath of her injury, Raina must deal with a series of braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with false teeth attached. Another incredibly popular choice with my middle school girls.
|Sisters (Raina Telgemeier), 2014
Sequel to Smile. Raina is excited to become a big sister, but when Baby Amara is born, she does nothing but fuss and play by herself. As the girls grow older, nothing really changes. The girls still do not play well together. But when their new baby brother comes along and their parents seem to be having difficulty, the girls band together like sisters should.
|Drama (Raina Telgemeier), 2012.
Callie loves theater and is excited about her middle school’s production of Moon Over Mississippi. Though she would love to be in the production, Callie knows she can’t sing. Still, she is excited to work backstage on set design. But all kinds of drama ensues including poor ticket sales, Callie’s lack of carpentry skills, and two cute brothers. Oh, the drama!
|Roller Girl (Victoria Jamieson), 2015.
Twelve-year old Astrid looks forward to attending roller skating camp with her best friend Nicole. But when Nicole decides to attend a different camp with a different friend instead, Astrid must face roller camp by herself.
|Sunny Side Up (Jennifer Holm, Matt Holm), 2015.
Ten-year old Sunny visits her grandfather in Florida in the summer of 1976. This book deals with some serious issues in a gentle, honest way. Read my full review here.
|HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth (Judd Winick), 2015.
DJ and Gina are normal kids, doing normal things, when a boy named HiLo falls right out of the sky. HiLo doesn’t know where came from or why he fell onto Earth.
|Jellaby (Kean Soo), 2008.
Portia is a quiet, intelligent girl who has just moved into a new neighborhood with her mom. Portia finds the adjustment difficult until she discovers a shy, sweet purple monster living in her backyard.
|Jellaby: Monster in the City (Kean Soo), 2014.
Sequel to Jellaby. Portia and Jason continue searching Toronto for the home of their lost purple monster, Jellaby.
|The Stonekeeper, Amulet series, book 1 (Kazu Kibuishi), 2013.
This series is enormously popular with boys and girls in my school. We just received Book #7 in the series, and I am kicking myself that I only ordered one copy. What was I thinking!? This is a fantasy series about a brother and sister who find an amulet in their grandfather’s old house. The amulet gives them the ability to fight monsters that have kidnapped their mother. Read my full review of Amulet here.
|Zita the Spacegirl (Ben Hatke), 2014.
We just got this one in our library, and I am positive it will be a popular choice among our sixth grade girls. Zita and her friend Joseph are exploring a meteor crater when they discover a tiny red button. Zita can’t resist; she pushes the button. The button summons an alien, who promptly abducts Joseph.
|El Deafo (CeCe Bell), 2015.
After surviving meningitis at age four, CeCe discovers that she can no longer hear. Doctors give young CeCe a device that straps to her chest and allows CeCe to hear her teachers, even when they are not in front of the classroom. I loved that CeCe is portrayed as a long-eared rabbit. As with Telgemeiers Smile and Sisters, El Deafo is an autobiographical memoir.
|Page By Paige (Laura Lee Gulledge), 2012.
Paige is the new student in her school and struggles to find where she fits. Told partly through Paige’s gorgeous artwork. There is some kissing in this one, but it is mild. It is a little more mature than the others on this list, but it’s still just fine for middle school. Read my full review (with content details) here.
|Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (Naoko Takeuchi), 2011 (originally published 1991).
This series of 12 manga-style books have been re-released for a new generation of readers. It is a translation, but this version keeps the characters’ original Japanese names. Fourteen-year old Usagi finds a talking cat named Luna. When Usagi finds herself confronted with evil, Luna transforms Usagi into Sailor Moon, who has the power to fight the forces of evil plaguing Tokyo.