Boys? Yes, I’d like to recommend some books with female leads that your son would enjoy reading. If your next question is “Why?,” then ask your daughter why she liked Harry Potter. She might say it was a good story, great characters, and a fantastic world. Who cares if the main character was a boy? In fact, girls will pick up a book with a hero or heroine equally. According to my excellent librarian resources, boys will actively avoid books with a girl as the main character. What’s the problem? I have no idea.
Why should you encourage your son to read books with heroines? That’s easy. You want your son to grow up knowing that a strong female for a friend, wife or boss is normal and good.
Instead of getting into the psychology of it all, let’s change it. And the best way is to get ‘em while they’re young. Here are a few adventure graphic novels that feature girl go-getters. I picked comics because when my son was young those were the only kind of books he selected on his own.
Giants Beware! By Rafael Rosado and Jorge Aguirre
Claudette wants to battle giants. She’s a great heroine, and breaks the mold. But what makes this book stand out is her two companions. Her little brother Gaston would rather be a pastry chef than a killer, but saves the day when he needs to, and Claudette’s best friend Marie is a girly-girl who loves etiquette, but is brave and clever. In many books with a strong female lead there is rarely another main girl, and the boys are usually competitive. The threesome are silly adventurers, complete with a sweet ending. One of our GeekMoms is reading it to her kids now.
The Courageous Princess By Rod Espinosa
This is almost ten years old and a classic of graphic novels: Talking animals, a fearsome dragon, a long journey, an anthropomorphic rope, and a princess who has integrity while saving herself.
Zita the Spacegirl By Ben Hatke
My son said over breakfast this morning, “Here you egg.” A quote by Strong-Strong, beloved character from Zita. This book is fast-paced with weird aliens, comedy, betrayal, rescues, and cuteness. Zita is brave but alone in this strange world, trying to find her friend. She and her new alien companions save the day.
Akiko on the Planet Smoo By Mark Crilley
Another space adventure that was part of a book club with both boys and girls. This comes as a graphic novel and book series. There are some slight differences between them (not sure why). ALL the kids in the club loved the story. Akiko is a human girl who is taken up to space to help some aliens in trouble. She’s a cool character. And Spuckler- we loved this guy. If you read Akiko out loud, do him in a John Wayne voice. It works.
Angelic Layer By Clamp.
A manga (Japanese comic) about a world where the premier entertainment is fighting dolls (called Angels) using mental control in huge arenas. The main character is a little girl who gets into the game wanting her battle Angel to be “a short girl, but brave and happy.” I can’t say I ever got into this series, but both my kids were addicted at a young age. My son would tell me about the fighting moves ad nauseam.
The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1) By Kazu Kibuishi
The art is entrancing, and the main characters are a brother and sister. When a tentacled monster grabs their mom, Em and Navin are the only ones to save her, entering a dark universe with a magic necklace to help. Scary at times (which makes it cool.)
Nightschool By Svetlana Chmakova.
Definitely for the older son in your life; this is my family’s favorite graphic series. A secret world within our world where different factions sometimes battle, sometimes work together to keep the really bad things away from humans. Epic fights along with cute comedy, and a reluctant heroine Alex, who is powerful beyond what anyone expects. You can read my full review here.
This list gets progressively for older kids, so please flip through them before handing it to your impressionable boy (especially the manga which has provocative poses.) And of course, your girls will love them too!
Any more recommendations?