The best graphic novels featuring girls who persevere

Who am I?

Growing up, if I wasn’t good at something right away, I’d quit. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of others. Because of that, I never experienced how great it felt to overcome obstacles, to succeed at something hard—until I played football. Girls Who Persevere is an important topic to me because so often, girls are treated as if they’re inferior or incapable. It’s ingrained in them that they shouldn’t try certain things (like football!), and if they fail at first, it must mean they can’t do it. I think it’s important to see strong girls doing big things, even when they’re hard. These books show just that.

I wrote...

Play Like a Girl

By Misty Wilson, David Wilson (illustrator),

Book cover of Play Like a Girl

What is my book about?

Misty never shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got. But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team.

Middle school isn’t so easy, either. Misty wants to fit in with the popular kids, but they think a girl playing football is “weird.” Even her best friend doesn’t get it. Can Misty find a way to score points with her teammates, make new friends, and show everyone—including herself—what it means to play like a girl?

The books I picked & why

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Twins: A Graphic Novel

By Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (illustrator),

Book cover of Twins: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

This is a touching story of two sisters who are changing and, in some ways, growing apart as they figure out who they are. Their rivalry as they both run for class president is realistic, and while it brings out some of the worst aspects of themselves and tears them apart, it also ultimately helps bring them back together but now with a better understanding of appreciation of each other. This story is layered, and the characters are so well developed. Even when things get difficult, these girls keep fighting to win but also to be themselves. 

Stepping Stones

By Lucy Knisley,

Book cover of Stepping Stones

Why this book?

This graphic novel is based on Lucy’s real life. It’s about a girl who begrudgingly moves from her home in the city to the country to live with her mom’s new boyfriend and share a bedroom with his daughters. I love this one because when you’re a kid, so many things are out of your control, and grown-ups are the ones making decisions for you. Sometimes, kids are forced to learn a whole new way of life. Stepping Stones is a great depiction of that experience—an experience I can relate to as someone whose mom remarried and then had to move towns and schools. I love how the main character, Jen, is terrible at math but has to handle money at the farmer’s market. She spends the summer persevering through her math troubles, her embarrassment related to it, and her new family and farm work expectations. 

Be Prepared

By Vera Brosgol,

Book cover of Be Prepared

Why this book?

This humorous and heartfelt graphic memoir is about Vera going to a Russian summer camp—an opportunity to fit in with other kids, especially since the American girls from school go to summer camp. I love this story because wanting to fit in such a universal experience, yet Vera’s experience is unique in many ways. Plus, I love a good summer camp story. After begging her mom to let her go, Vera ends up hating camp, but she sticks it out, makes real friends, and learns so much about herself. 

Swim Team

By Johnnie Christmas,

Book cover of Swim Team

Why this book?

My favorite thing about this graphic novel is easily the Black history that is woven into this fictional story. As someone who’s always struggled with anxiety, I love how the main character’s anxiety is depicted in the story. Though she doesn’t know how to swim, and she’s scared of the water, Bree leaves her comfort zone. This book is a must-read for kids. It feels important.

Roller Girl

By Victoria Jamieson,

Book cover of Roller Girl

Why this book?

This is one of the first graphic novels I ever read, and I couldn’t stop laughing. The story is fun, and it’s the perfect example of a girl staying true to who she is while realizing that sometimes people change and friends grow apart as they grow up. I loved that I got to learn a new sport while enjoying this coming-of-age story. 

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in comics, farms, and twins?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about comics, farms, and twins.

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