11 Good Comics for Kids (Even Little Ones!)
We read a lot of comics and graphic novels at our house. A LOT. Other parents keep asking me to recommend comics for their kids, so I thought a series of blog posts was in order. (Actually, I thought ONE post was in order, but then I realized I had at least 80 books to recommend. So, series!)
The "all ages" label in the comics world is often misleading. Books with lots of mean namecalling, bullying, romance themes, violence, extremely scary or sad events, and potty or gross-out humor can get labeled "all ages" but they're completely unworkable for reading aloud with most three and four year olds.
So here's a set of happy, fun comics or comic/picture book blends appropriate for even the youngest kiddos. They're all good books, with high quality art and engaging stories. Older ones will find plenty to enjoy here too. I'd hand almost any of these to my ten year old nephew as well as a three year old.
Your local library system may have a lot of these. If they don't, they should!
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Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss. It's a sweet, funny little story about a young child's big adventure chasing pigeons through the city. We read this when Boy Detective was five, and I thought he might find the story too simple, but he paid a lot more attention to the pictures than I initially did and ended up laughing at all of Luke's antics. I think I was also distracted by empathizing with Luke's frantic parents!
I especially loved finding this because children's books are sadly lacking in diversity of characters, and kids' comics even moreso!
Zoe and Robot: Let's Pretend. This is fun to read aloud, especially if you're willing to do a robot voice. Zoe's friend Robot just can't seem to get the hang of her pretend mountain-climbing expedition! What can she do? Just keep trying, Zoe, it's all going to work out. After digging through the Austin Public Library catalog for awesome picture books about robots and coming up with very little that interested me, and NO female characters in sight, I really appreciated this one. Boy Detective is six right now and we just read this, but we could have read it when he was much younger. He's read it to himself repeatedly and still is asking for someone to read it to him.
Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas by Philippe Coudray. Each page is one cartoon, with a visual gag playing off the short dialogue. It's more like reading cartoons in the newspaper than reading a story, Go slow with younger children, because they'll need time to process the visuals and combine them with the wordplay. Once they start to catch on, it's a lot of fun. (Unfortunately, the next volume, Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking contains some pages that are one character hurting another on purpose to make the joke work. No thanks!)
Hello Kitty: Here We Go! with stories and art by Jacob Chabot, Jorge Monlongo, and Susie Ghahremani. I would never have ordered this if Boy Detective didn't love Hello Kitty with a passion, or if I'd realized it would be wordless. Wordless comics are hard. You can't just read what's on the page in a stupor at 8pm. You have to look at it and be creative and discuss. How it was supposed to have words when Hello Kitty has no mouth, I don't know. So I immediately handed it to the kid with a gentle "get this away from me or look at it with Grandma" message.
Then he suckered me into looking at it with him one morning before school. You know what? It's really cute and funny. I was surprised by how much expression they manage with this little stylized cat. Also, there were kitty ninjas. (All they do is look menacing.) I had a good time, and I would buy another one for him.
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith. I could not figure out the point of this book... until we got to the joke at the end. Then I laughed, and Boy Detective at four years old thought it was hilarious. For those familiar with Bone, this is the same Jeff Smith, doing something light and fun.
Pippi Moves In, in which Ingrid Vang Nyman adapted Astrid Lindgren's Pippi stories into comics at roughly the same time that the Pippi books were published. The comics are now being reprinted and they have held up just fine with the years. We got this when Boy Detective was five, and he loves jokes and funny stuff, so Pippi's zany behavior and outlook on life were perfect for him. The followup volume, Pippi Fixes Everything, is waiting in our "to read" pile and I expect more of the same amusement.
Comic Adventures of Boots by Satoshi Kitamura. We LOVE Satoshi Kitamura. This book of comic stories about Boots the cat is at times surreal, and very often funny. Please watch 20-30 cats try to make a pyramid to get treats off the roof of a building and tell me you aren't chuckling a little, at least in your mind.
C-Man and I would buy this one for our own collection. Satoshi Kitamura's art is extremely expressive. I had no idea that cartoon cat faces could convey so many different emotions.
Stinky by Eleanor Davis. I did not want to bring this book home because of the title. Why would I want to read about stinky things?! C-Man and Boy Detective overruled me. I'm glad they did. It's a nice little story about learning to overcome your fear of people who are different, and it doesn't hit the readers repeatedly on the head with the lesson stick. If you don't like toads, though, I'd give it a pass.
Long Tail Kitty by Lark Pien. I was familiar with Lark Pien through some of her previous work on comics, as well as the picture book Mr. Elephanter, so we checked out Long Tail Kitty from the library. The first chapter serves as a bit of introduction and prologue, before the chapters of wacky fun as Long Tail Kitty gets a bee sting (and meets some cranky flowers who like cookies), learns to ice skate, makes dinner with friends, and plays with visiting aliens. I'm going to buy this one and pretend Boy Detective asked me to. He'll cover for me as long as I share it with him.
There may be one mention of someone needing to "wee" in this one, and I think someone mentions their "bum" so depending on your kiddo's propensity for repeating words ad nauseum you may want to pre-screen it and see what you think.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye, written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue. There are five books in this series, and they are all hysterical. If we buy this for Boy Detective, I'm going to end up stealing it. Often. We may need a rule about who gets which books on which days.
A bookworm guinea pig named Sasspants and her best friend, a mouse named Hamisher who wants to be a dragon, live in a pet shop where the owner can't remember what to label the cages... and there's always a mystery afoot. The fish are all named Steve. The chinchillas have a pet mouse they carry around like a tiny dog, and they dress him up. Trust me on this one.
Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson. We heart the Magic Trixie series! We read them with Boy Detective really young, maybe starting when he was three? This is another set I'd buy even if I did not live with a child.
Magic Trixie's world is full of spells, adventure, and spooky-but-not-really monster stuff. Plus, grownups who love Trixie even when she's made a bad decision. The first and third books deal with "I have a baby sister" drama, so I don't always bust them out on families with multiple kids if I don't know their kids' rivalry/jealousy dynamics. The second one, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over, is great for Halloween. Which we observe all year at our house.
Scary Godmother and the Boo Flu, also by Jill Thompson. There are quite a few different Scary Godmother books by Jill Thompson, as well as some produced when the character was under license to a large company. Stick with Jill's. The one we started with was a big black and white compendium that took forever to get through, though Boy Detective was fine with that and stayed interested.
The Boo Flu is more accessible, and in color, focused on Scary Godmother's friend Hannah. S.G. gets sick and little girl Hannah tries to take over her Halloween duties, only to realize that it's a LOT of work. If your kiddo likes this one, you can look for more.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave any suggestions in the comments, and if you're on Pinterest, please consider pinning!