The Very Best Comic Books for Kids and Tips on How to Read Them Carefully
Comic books have been loved by kids of all ages (and adults, too!) for generations: from publications aimed at younger children to edgy graphic novels, they’ve never been out of fashion.
The very first comic appeared all the way back in 1837: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck was the first to use bordered panels and a combination of words and pictures to create a pioneering ‘comic strip’ layout. Obadiah was a smash hit, and the rest, as they say, is history.
If you’re wondering about the best comic books for kids and how to go about choosing the titles that are the most suitable for your child’s age, then keep reading. We explore the different types of comics and round up the best of the bunch below! But first let’s answer the main question.
- Are Comics Suitable for Children?
- How to Read Comics: A Guide for Kids
- Best Comic Books for Different Ages
- Graphic Novels for Girls
- Cartoon Comics
- The Funniest Comic Books for Kids
- The Best Short Story Books
- Help Your Kids Create Their Own Comic
Are Comics Suitable for Children?
reVisualArtStudio/Shutterstock.comAs a parent, you may wonder whether comic books are appropriate for your child to read. As long as a child is reading comics aimed at their age group, then not only are they totally appropriate, but they actually offer many benefits.
Reading comic books can help turn kids into avid readers, fire their imaginations, and promote an appreciation of the visual arts. Need more convincing? The graphic novel ‘American Born Chinese’ is a previous winner of the American Library Association’s Printz Award.
You may be concerned that, once you make comics available to your child, they’ll subsequently only want to read titles that feature cartoon strips rather than ‘proper’ chapter books. There’s no evidence for this, however; many school teachers have pointed to comics’ ability to motivate otherwise reluctant readers and promote comprehension and memory, and inference skills.
How to Read Comics: A Guide for Kids
If your kids have never read a comic before, they may need a quick guide on how to follow the action.
Western (including American) comics are read from left to right, top to bottom. Show your child how they need to start with the panel in the upper left-hand corner. Dialogue bubbles within each panel should also be read from left to right, starting with those at the top of the panel and moving down. The bottom right-hand panel is the final one of each page.
Any panels that are stacked on top of each other should be read together—they are arranged like this to show that they depict interconnected actions and/or dialogue. Start with the panel on top, and work down in this case.
This may all sound a little complicated, but, in practice, it’s super easy: assure your young reader that they’ll get the hang of it within minutes! And if they’re interested, explain how in Japan, comics and graphic novels are read the opposite way around.
Best Comic Books for Different Ages
For your child to get the most out of a comic book and to ensure that it features appropriate content, different titles are aimed at different ages. The list below rounds up our recommended reads according to age to help you choose the best publication for your child.
Best Comic Books for 6–8-Year-Olds
CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington
Age rating: 6+
Major Meowser is the brave commander of the CatStronauts, a band of space cats chosen to set up a solar power plant on the moon! Young kids will love the fun story, cute (yet fearless!) characters, and charming cartoons as they follow the CatStronauts on their mission.
This comic book is the first in a series by author and illustrator Drew Brockington, so if your child enjoys Mission to the Moon, there are plenty more space cat adventures for them to enjoy!
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! by Ben Clanton
Age rating: 6+
This adorable, short comic book is all about the importance of friendship and working as a team. Narwhal and his pal Jelly, a straight-talking jellyfish, are very different characters but share a love of waffles, parties, and adventures!
At once funny and full of warmth, boys and girls alike are sure to be enchanted with this story of a most unlikely friendship.
The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton III
Age rating 6+
Any 6 to 8 year old will appreciate the silliness and storyline of this popular comic book series. The striking three-color palette used by the author and illustrator helps make the action clear and easy to follow, while the puns and visual humor will keep little readers laughing and thoroughly engaged.
Age rating: 6+
The Madrigals live in a magical house, in a magical town—they’re a magical family, too… apart from Mirabel, the only one of the clan who doesn’t have any special powers at all. Or does she?
This full-color, beautiful graphic novel is a wonderful way to instill in kids that there really is magic in all of us.
Best Comic Books for 8–10-Year-Olds
Diana: Princess of the Amazons by Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, and Victoria Ying
Age rating: 8+
New York Times best-selling authors and husband and wife team Dean and Shannon Hale have teamed up with illustrator Victoria Ying to create a superhero comic with a difference.
Eleven-year-old Diana has a seemingly perfect life, growing up on the island of Themyscira—but even a future Wonder Woman makes mistakes and finds herself longing for someone her own age to talk to.
Wallace the Brave by Will Henry
Age rating: 8+
Particularly popular with third and fourth graders, the Wallace the Brave comic strip is reminiscent of the classic comics of the past. Wallace and his friend Spud live in pretty Snug Harbor, along with Wallace’s feral little brother Sterling, his fisherman father, and plant-loving mom.
Gentle, humorous, and full of heart, the Wallace stories are sure to become much-loved by your child.
Charlie Brown and Friends: A Peanuts Collection by Charles M. Shultz
Age rating: 9+
No list of kid’s comic books would be complete without the original Peanuts characters, curated here in a collection that’s perfect for middle-graders.
Each image is rendered in full color, and the whole team is here: Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, and—of course, the title character, Charlie Brown himself.
Primer by Thomas Trajewski, Jennifer Muro, and Gretel Lusky
Age rating: 8+
Ashley Rayburn is thirteen, upbeat, and has an amazing array of superpowers!
Kids will love the vibrant graphics and the larger-than-life, yet totally relatable, heroine. Things aren’t easy in Ashley’s world: she’s growing up in foster care and struggling to fit in and find her place in the world. Primer is a thought-provoking read in comic form.
Best Comic Books for 10–12-Year-Olds
Big Nate: From the Joy by Lincoln Peirce
Age rating: 10+
Originally a newspaper comic strip and now an animated series, Big Nate is sure to be a hit in your household! Nate believes himself to be a genius, and he’s not shy about letting his teachers and schoolmates know it. The real appeal of the Big Nate comic books is their sharply hilarious insight into everyday school life, which older kids will really appreciate.
This title is also an Amazon Teachers’ Pick, too, which is always a good sign of a great read!
Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A.Reynolds
Age rating: 10+
Starring one of the most famous Marvel superheroes of all, Shock Waves is an undoubtedly cool graphic novel that follows Brooklyn’s Spider-Man in his search for a fellow student’s missing father.
School Library Journal rates this graphic novel highly, praising its balanced story and focus on Miles’s relationships with those close to him and his wider community.
DC Graphic Novels for Kids Box Set 1 by Various Authors
Age rating: 8–12 years
This collection of DC graphic novels for kids features four publications: Dear Justice League, Superman of Smallville, Black Canary: Ignite, and The Secret Spiral of Swamp.
Many parents have mentioned in their reviews of this collection that it’s helped encourage their child to read and promoted a general love of books.
Graphic Novels for Girls
Comics and graphic novels have something of a reputation for being a boys’ club. Things have changed, however, and whether you’re buying for a little girl aged eight or an older teen, you’ll find a huge range of titles that are designed to appeal to a much wider readership.
Here’s our pick of the very best graphic novels that may be particularly appealing to girls. Each promotes concepts of equality and diversity and is designed to reiterate to girls that they really can do anything they set their minds to.
The Courageous Princess: Beyond the Hundred Kingdoms by Rod Espinosa
Age rating: 4+
Perfect for preschoolers and kids in early elementary school, The Courageous Princess tells the story of Mabelrose, whose parents reign over the tiny kingdom of New Tinsley. Witty, resourceful, and with impeccable manners, this is a princess that your little girl will love.
There are two more books in this series, too, so if your little one has enjoyed joining Mabelrose on her journey, there are more adventures to read!
Anti/Hero by Kate Karyus Quinn, Demitria Lunetta, and Maca Gil
Age rating: 8+
A DC comic aimed at kids in elementary school, Anti/Hero features two new characters that lots of young girls will be able to identify with. Piper is sunny and outgoing, while Sloane is a super-intelligent loner—but this isn’t a story that neatly segregates its protagonists into ‘good’ and ‘evil.’
This graphic novel is concerned with how two very different characters need to work out where they fit and the paths they each should take.
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
Age rating: 12+
Almost American is an illustrated memoir suitable for children in middle school and is about the challenges of growing up somewhere new. It’s a challenging but satisfying read and is a perfect example of how graphic novels can also be great pieces of literature, too.
The story relates the author’s own experience in moving from Korea to the USA with her mother and her difficulties in fitting into her new home and culture. Ultimately, it’s uplifting and provides much food for thought for readers ready to take on a new challenge.
Age rating: 10+
What a great idea: a comic that introduces the idea of periods and puberty in an accessible, fun way. The Period Comic gives girls all the information they need to know about the changes happening to their bodies and what to expect as they approach and go through puberty.
The underlying concept of this comic is to help girls feel empowered, informed, and comfortable in their bodies.
If you’re looking for a way to engage a reluctant reader, then a cartoon comic is a great option to see results fast! Here are some of the top rated cartoon comics for a range of ages that your kids won’t be able to put down.
Tom and Jerry: The Purr-fect Getaway by Christopher Harbo and Scott Jeralds
Age rating: 5+
The Tom and Jerry cartoon comics remain as firm a favorite with kids today as they have been for decades past. This comic features virtually no text, so it’s easy for even very young children to follow the action and appreciate the innate humor and mischief.
The Purr-fect Getaway is the purr-fect way to get little kids interested in books and engaged in a story. Try looking through the pages together and talking about what’s happening in the story.
Age rating: 9+
Garfield has been a huge hit with kids and adults alike for years, and this collection of comics in one bumper volume will have the whole household laughing!
Garfield is the most widely-read comic strip in the world, currently appearing in over 2,000 newspapers around the globe and read by 200 million people. The zany graphics, side-splitting comedy, and easy-to-follow action make this compilation a wonderful way to get kids more interested in reading.
Age rating: 9+
As well as making for a perfect gift, this high-quality 76-page comic is a reminder that the important things in life can’t be bought with cash and that piles of gold aren’t worth much if you’ve got no one to share it with!
With easy-to-read text and vivid colors that kids will enjoy, Disney’s take on the Dickens seasonal classic offers a high apr in the fun stakes!
The Funniest Comic Books for Kids
The clue’s in the name: comic books are meant to be… comic! This is what differentiates them from graphic novels: while Batman books may be gothic and suspenseful, traditional comics are all about getting a laugh. Which is why, of course, kids love them—and adults, too!
Age rating: 6-12
Children have loved the Beano since its first appearance in 1938, and Dennis, Gnasher, Minnie the Minx, and the Bash Street Kids continue to delight a new generation today.
For the ultimate gift for comic-loving kids, why not sign them up for an annual Beano subscription? They’ll be waiting with anticipation for their installment each month, keen to devour it cover to cover!
Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey
Age rating: 7-9
The superheroes in this comic compilation may not be the cool costume wearing type, but they’ve got something even more powerful: heart, and lots of it!
The stories are hilarious, and a lovely way to encourage kids to express their own creativity. The award-winning author and illustrator Dav Pilkey is also the genius behind the Captain Underpants and Dog Man series.
Age rating: 7-9
The Dragonbreath series of comics has proved to be a big hit with parents and kids alike. In terms of the former, moms and dads appreciate the fact that the strips contain more text as compared to many other similar publications, which means that children may well end up reading more ‘traditional’ text than they realize—this title is a stealthy way to incorporate more reading into your kid’s day!
And young readers will adore the rip-roaring humor as they follow the exploits of Danny Dragonbreath and his ongoing attempt to breathe fire!
The Best Short Story Books
Writing a short story is an art form. When done well, a piece of short fiction is a perfect little world in and of itself, able to captivate us and have us racing towards its conclusion. For kids, especially struggling or reluctant readers, a short story can be a great way to make reading an entire tale achievable, giving them the confidence and boost they need to, eventually, take on the challenge of chapter books.
Here’s our selection of the very best collections of short stories for children.
Stories to Turn the World Upside Down by Pol L. Grau and Silvia Roma
Age rating: 7+
Each of the four stories in this charming collection has one thing in common: promoting positive values. Children are the stars of these tales that focus on curiosity, sincerity, and fostering respect for nature and diversity—and, of course, having fun!
The beautiful illustrations and uplifting adventures of the characters are great for getting children started on the next chapter of their reading journey!
Age rating: 5-12
What better way to get kids interested in reading than with a compilation of short tales based in their favorite gaming world? It’s a great book to help kids to transition to longer reads, as each short story is made up of bite-sized mini-chapters. It’s also packed with bright, fun illustrations that young Minecraft fans will love.
Age rating: 7+
If you have a child who loves a scary story, then this collection is sure to hit the spot! From creepy graveyard diggings to Bigfoot sightings, kids will be deliciously creeped out and thoroughly entertained.
Help Your Kids Create Their Own Comic
If your child thoroughly enjoys reading comics, then they’ll probably love creating one of their own, so why not encourage them to have a go?
All you need is a stack of paper, a ruler, and a selection of biros or coloring pens. For younger kids, you may wish to draw out the grids for the strips to help them get started.
Alternatively, how about treating them to one of these books designed to show kids exactly how to design and make a comic filled with fantastic characters from their own imaginations?
As well as 100 pages ready for your child to fill, this book also features a range of templates and will provide hours of entertainment!
As well as providing comic book templates, this book gives budding artists and authors lots of hints and tips regarding creating characters, setting scenes, incorporating emotions, and the best way to add sound effects to the story.
Raising Reading-Loving Kids
While some kids take naturally to reading, for others, it can be more of a struggle. Reluctance to read can have many causes, from a lack of confidence to difficulties reading at the ‘expected’ level to finding it tricky to engage with the characters and story.
While comics and graphic novels can be a great, entertaining, and fun addition to the bookshelves of readers of all ages (and sexes!), they can be particularly useful for helping otherwise reluctant readers to find their way into a love of books and literature.
When choosing a comic book or graphic novel for your child, pay careful attention to its age rating. But also remember that you know your son or daughter better than anyone else and will know their reading capabilities and also the type of content that would be most suitable for them.
For younger readers, try reading a comic together, discussing the pictures and the text as you go. You may be surprised at just how quickly your formerly reluctant reader begins picking up the publication and turning the pages of their own accord!
Share Your Stories!
Why not let us know the comics or graphic novels that most engaged your own kids and got them started on their reading adventure? We’d love to know what inspired your children and worked for you!
The picture on the front page: mundissima/Shutterstock.com
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