Summer can be a great time to delve into your artistic passions. Whether you’re a writer, an artist, or just someone who loves a good show, I hope you’ll find a match in these arts books for girls.

Shannon in the Spotlight

Book cover image for Shannon in the Spotlight by Kalena Miller

Twelve-year-old Shannon has always been content to stay backstage — until the director of the summer musical hears her singing and encourages her to audition. Shannon thinks her OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) will interfere with being in the spotlight. But she discovers something incredible. On stage, she doesn’t feel anxious! She’s thrilled to land a lead role. But now she has a new anxiety. Will she be able to mend her friendship with actress Elise, who finds herself jealous of Shannon’s unexpected success?

Penny Draws a Best Friend

Book cover image for Penny Draws a Best Friend by Sara Shepard

Penny is looking forward to fifth grade for two reasons. She’ll get to see her best friend Violet again, and she’ll get to go to art club. But Violet’s been acting strange since school started. She says art club is for babies and spends all her time with the meanest girl in school. Written as Penny’s diary — complete with doodles illustrating her life — this book explores navigating changing friendships, learning to cope with anxiety, and figuring out what your parents aren’t telling you.

A Duet for Home

Book cover image for A Duet For Home by Karina Yan Glaser

Sixth-grader June has lost a lot. Not only does her family have to move into a homeless shelter, but she’s not allowed to bring her beloved viola with her. Things begin to look up when she bonds with Tyrell, another kid at the shelter who loves classical music as much as she does. When a new policy threatens to push them out of the shelter before they’re ready, can they band together to fight it? The author’s work in homeless shelters in New York City where she met kids like June and Tyrell inspired this book.

Doodles From the Boogie Down

Book cover image for Doodles From the Boogie Down by Stephanie Rodriguez

While eighth-grader Steph is doodling in her notebook, her friends are applying for high school. Her art teacher suggests she apply to an art school in Manhattan. She desperately wants to go, but there’s one problem. Her strict mom wants her to go to school in the Bronx, where she lives. Steph concocts a plan to deceive her mom, teachers, and friends. But keeping secrets isn’t easy, and Steph must decide how far she’s willing to go in this graphic novel inspired by the author’s real experiences.

The Cardboard Kingdom

Book cover image for The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

A girl with a big voice becomes a she-hulk. A boy who doesn’t fit in becomes a powerful sorceress. In this graphic novel collaboration from 11 different writers, a neighborhood of kids transforms themselves using cardboard costumes. Through the power of imagination, they both face their troubles and escape them during one life-changing summer.

More Arts Books for Girls

When Liz Montague wrote the New Yorker asking why they didn’t publish more diverse artists, they hired her to create comics for them. Her graphic novel memoir, Maybe an Artist, explores her journey from a kid who used art to overcome dyslexia to the first Black female cartoonist to publish in the New Yorker.

Sunny faces strain in her relationship with her best friend when they audition for the dance team together and only Sunny makes it in Make a Move, Sunny Park by Jessica Kim.

Iris and Dana both love pop star Lola Bay, and Dana says she knows how to score free merch and maybe even get them show tickets. But when Dana’s schemes start making Iris nervous, she needs to decide how far she’s willing to go for this friendship in The Unofficial Lola Bay Fanclub by C.M. Surrisi.

When twelve sisters experience the death of their mother, their father locks them up at home to keep them safe. But they find freedom in a secret world of dancing and imagination in The Restless Girls by Jessie Burton, a retelling of The 12 Dancing Princesses.

If writing helps you generate creativity and hone your vision, grab a copy of A Girl on the Go Guided Journal by Lisa Goich. It includes 100 writing prompts and words of encouragement to help you meet your goals.

What about you? Do you have favorite arts books for girls? Have you read any of the books listed above? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a freelance writer and editor and stay-at-home parent of 2 little boys. She has been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author...

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