(20/20) Almost American Girl – “20 YA Novels for Adolescents”

Almost American Girl is an autobiographical graphic novel. It is an illustrated memoir written and illustrated by Robin Ha. It was published on January 28, 2020 and it consists of 240 pages. The awards and nominees for the graphic novel are:

  • Harvey Award Nominee.
  • 2021 CCBC Choices.
  • 2021 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
  • 2021 Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.
  • 2021 ALSC Notable Children’s Books.
  • 2020 Junior Library Guild Selections.
  • 2020 SLJ Best Books of the Year.

Almost American Girl is about a Korean girl who doesn’t speak English and moves to Huntsville, Alabama from South Korea. She experiences culture shock and feels isolated. She struggles with life in a new country, but she discovers her love and passion for creating comics.

I chose to read this graphic novel because although I’m not Korean, I can relate to her experience a lot as a POC (African-American). I was born in the United States, but I was raised in Egypt up until my family moved to Colorado when I was in the third grade. I struggled a lot with navigating my life in a new country and learning English as a new language. Similar to Robin, I felt isolated, but as the years passed, I began to get used to it all and I even discovered my passion for storytelling and media entertainment, including comics. My experience, of course, differs from Robin’s in specific details, but overall, I can relate to her experience.

I recommend this graphic novel to third graders and up. It think the graphic novel is relatable to many POC who are coming to the United States as a new country at such a young age. The graphic novel also doesn’t seem to have any bad words or panels that make it inappropriate for kids. I would encourage individual reading and I would especially recommend it to POC students, especially those who may be new to the country.

For read alouds, I would especially read:

  • Pgs. 14 – 15, “Comics Are Better”.

  • Pgs. 18 – 20, “Moving to the United States”.

Almost American Girl was not only a fun read, but also a very relatable read to many POC. It is something that a lot of us have in common, which is what makes it so great, especially for kids. We may not be Korean or have the same exact experiences as Robin, but her experiences are still relatable to POC when considering the idea of moving from your home country to the United States.

I want to explore more graphic novels that tell stories that are relatable to POC. I would have loved to read a graphic novel like this back when I first moved to the United States, so as a teacher, I want to recommend more graphic novels like this to my students.

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