You’ll recall that Mia Learning is committed to empowering girls and gender non-binary kids. In that vein, last week‘s #FridayFive introduced five graphic novel memoirs by women. To follow-up, this week we’ve got five graphic novel women’s biographies. Even today, the vast majority of juvenile biographies still cover men’s lives: make sure your child knows that women are just as worthy of commemoration as men are.
Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
Although in no way a replacement for Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl (more a companion piece to it), this graphic biography is packed with information, beautifully illustrated, and complemented by resources for further reading, photographs, and timelines. It provides context for the events the diary itself recounted and helps readers get to know Anne’s family members better.
Allison Lassieur, Ill. Cynthia Martin and Anne Timmons
From the all-around excellent Graphic Library biography series (which also includes volumes on Eleanor Roosevelt, Sacagawea, Florence Nightingale, Mary “Mother” Jones, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Blackwell, Betsy Ross, Bessie Coleman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Clara Barton, Molly Pitcher, and Amelia Earhart) comes the truly amazing story of Wilma Rudolph, who overcame childhood polio to become a Olympic champion runner. If Kathleen Krull’s 1996 picture book biography is perhaps a better choice for older readers (it’s become a classroom staple), Lassieur’s graphic novelization is still a fantastic introduction to Rudolph’s life and accomplishments for the younger set.
Lewis Helfand, Ill. Sachin Nagar
Beautifully illustrated in serene watercolors and filled with emotionally poignant scenes, this is an excellent choice for older readers, especially those who are inclined to activism and social justice work. With an appealing mixture of anecdotes, facts, and invented dialogue, this reverent but accurate biography will serve as an inspiration to anyone longing to make a difference.
So few titles for kids explicitly focus on Annie Sullivan, yet Helen Keller’s story would never have unfolded as it did without her teacher’s staggering patience and compassion: such is the argument in this graphic biography from an alum of The Center for Cartoon Studies in Vermont. Compulsively readable even when depicting Sullivan’s most frustrated and monotonous moments, it uses stunningly original illustrations to depict the relationship between student and teacher with tenderness and care. Winner of a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award (sort of an Academy Award for comics), this is an absolute must-read.
Sarah Stewart Taylor, ill. Ben Towle
Another title from The Center For Cartoon Studies, this one by a writing instructor and comics educator, remembers aviator extraordinaire Amelia Earhart. Both author and illustrator are at the top of their game here – in a limited palette of blue, white, and black, they focus on their subject’s legendary Atlantic crossing in 1928 while still giving sufficient attention to her tragic disappearance. Both introduction and backmatter are of great use here for kids interested in finding further details and reading more on Earhart.