— This post was double-checked and freshened up in September of 2018. Happy reading! —
Here’s a set of happy, fun comics and comic/picture book blends appropriate for even the youngest kiddos. They’re all books I enjoy even as an adult, with high quality art and engaging stories. Older kids will find plenty to adore here too.
Before we jump in:
- All comics listed here can be bought as graphic novels/collections, not only as single issues. Your library may own many of these!
- Amazon links are affiliate links.
- Need more recs? All my kids’ comics recommendations are here.
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The Adventures of Polo by Régis Faller. A wordless comic about a little dog who leaves his house (in a tree in the middle of the ocean) and a grand adventure. The way off his island is by tightrope, which then turns into a staircase, and then a slide, which drops him onto a cloud, which he rides to his friend’s house which is also on a cloud… if you’re getting a Harold and the Purple Crayon vibe here, you’re not wrong. It’s the same kind of magical wonderland kind of story and I just loved it. Polo visits all kinds of islands and then eventually ends up on the moon before arriving back home where all his new friends can now come to visit. Very fun!
Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas by Philippe Coudray. Each page is one cartoon, with a visual gag playing off the short dialogue – more like reading cartoons in the newspaper than a graphic novel. 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 we read, Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, contains some pages where one character hurts another on purpose to make the joke work. A big departure from this one, which we adored, and my kid still re-reads at age 10.
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! Satoshi Kitamura’s art is extremely expressive. I had no idea that cartoon cat faces could convey so many different emotions. A real winner with my cat-loving son.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye, written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue. We checked this out from the library thinking it was just for my son, but the adults in the house cracked up as much, if not more, than the intended seven year old audience.
The main character is a bookworm guinea pig named Sasspants. Her best friend is a mouse named Hamisher who thought he was a koala but later wants to be a dragon. They 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. You won’t be sorry. Six slim volumes, every one is comedy gold.
Diversity notes: (1) Yue is Asian-American. (2) I read the pet shop owner as being neurodivergent in some way, and that is never ever a bad thing to the animals or his friends. They love and admire him exactly as he is.
The Hello Kitty: Here We Go! series, with stories and art by Jacob Chabot, Jorge Monlongo, and Susie Ghahremani. I almost goofed up and let us miss out on this delightful series. You see, I would never have ordered the first book if my son 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! But how was it supposed to have words when Hello Kitty has no mouth? When it arrived, I immediately handed it to the kid with a gentle message of “look at it with Grandma.”
Then kiddo 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. I had a good time, and we ended up buying the whole rest of the six-book series and loving it, especially the bit where Hello Kitty and her friends play D&D.
Hello Kitty: Hello 40, an anthology of comics by various creators, edited by Traci N. Todd and Elizabeth Kawasaki. If the kiddo in your life liked the above, check this out. 41 short stories, in various art styles, ranging from comedy to science fiction. It’s a neat project for seeing how different people can interpret the same character in a variety of ways while keeping the distinctive essence.
The Hole by Øyvind Torseter, translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson. That white dot in the center of the book cover? That’s an actual hole. It goes all the way through the book. The main character moves into a new apartment only to discover this hole. As he’s trying to figure out what it is, the hole moves! He makes a phone call for help, which results in a request to catch the hole and bring it across town. This book has very little dialogue, but tons of visual interest, and the hole is used shockingly well on every page. So glad this showed up at our local library!
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 my son at four years old thought it was hilarious. For those familiar with Bone, this is the same Jeff Smith, doing something light and fun. I think this would make a perfect first preschooler graphic novel.
Long Tail Kitty by Lark Pien. I was familiar with Lark Pien’s awesomeness through some of her previous work in 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, then we get all kinds of wacky fun as Long Tail Kitty:(1) gets a bee sting and meets some cranky flowers who like cookies, (2) learns to ice skate, (3) makes dinner with friends, and (4) plays with visiting aliens. It’s great! Lots of laughter with this one.
Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss. A sweet, funny little story about a young child’s big adventure chasing pigeons through the city. We read this when my son 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 little kids’ comics even moreso!
Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson. We heart the Magic Trixie series! We read them with my son 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 not-too-spooky 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. Jill Thompson is the best.
Scary Godmother and the Boo Flu, also by Jill Thompson. If you like Magic Trixie, here’s something else to check out. 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 my son was fine with that and stayed interested. The Boo Flu is more accessible for younger kids, 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! Perfect for kids who love that Halloween spirit.
Max & Milo Go To Sleep! by Heather and Ethan Long. Poor Max! It’s not easy sharing a room with your energetic always-busy brother, especially at bedtime. The Longs have done a great job pairing Ethan’s cartoon art with a story “inspired by real family events” that my son cracks up over every time.
Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan. Most kids LOVE a good story about a kid proving adults wrong, and this is a cute one. Maya’s parents implore her to use good table manners. After all, what if she got invited to dinner with the queen?! Well, that actually happens… and the results left my son cracking up and looking for all the funny details in the pictures of that night’s historic dinner.
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 pretty well with the years. We got this when my son was five, and he loves jokes and absurd antics, so Pippi’s zany behavior and outlook on life were perfect for him. The followup volume, Pippi Fixes Everything, was more of the same amusement.
Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest, by John Lechner. I never thought I would read a story about anthropomorphized burrs. That’s why John Lechner has published books and I have not, he has way more imagination! Sticky Burr usually spends his time playing the ukulele and painting, but when trouble arises, he’s the one the other burrs look to for good ideas. This book combines graphic novel storytelling with pages describing life in the village, the forest, etc. Rich fictional world, cute talking burrs, what’s not to love? (One caution: there’s a mean-spirited burr who does spend a lot of time spewing negativity, but I still think this is fine for even little kids. It’s so funny how the jerk burr always loses and gets so frustrated.)
The sequel, Sticky Burr: The Prickly Peril, is also quite lovely.
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?! My husband and son 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.
Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carré. I love this little book! The art style is so unique. It feels vintage without feeling dated. And I love how Tippy explains how she could have ended up with a bedroom full of animals and a bird on her head… even though all she remembers is falling asleep! My son grabbed this out of the library shelf and read it before I woke up one morning, then brought it to me in the dark whispering “Mom, you HAVE to read this!” He was not wrong.
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. My son was six right when we read this, but we could have read it when he was much younger. He read it to himself repeatedly and still asked for someone to read it to him.
And that’s the list of good comics for kids! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!