“Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.”
–Art Spiegelman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Maus and TOON Books Series Advisor
Kids need a variety in their reading diet.
Let kids read comic books + chapter books + non-fiction books. It’s like a healthy eating: a little of everything from each food plate category adds up to the essential nutrients for a healthy life. So let’s talk about comics for kids.
Comic Books for Kids
The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke (ages 8 – 12)
The Zita books rock — they’re full of adventure, humor, and fantastic characters!! Zita is an awesome, courageous problem-solving heroine who accidentally gets stuck in space. In this third book of the trilogy, our beloved Zita is in jail. (Gasp!) Not only does she need to escape because of course, she didn’t do it, she must stop her evil jailer from taking over the world.
Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack (ages 8 – 12)
Cleopatra is transported to the future on a different planet where she learns she’s destined to save the world. To prepare, she attends school (sort of) and trains with a wise old cat. She’s sent on her first mission before she is fully ready. Can she do it or will her lack of preparation ruin the mission? Difficult to follow at first but overall entertaining.
The Croc Ate My Homework by Stephan Pastis (ages 8 – 12)
This book is so funny I can hardly stand it. My kids LOVED this book, as did I. It’s from the author of the Timmy Failure books and the Pearls Before Swine comic strip which curated especially for younger readers. The crocs are not the smartest and their stupidity will keep you th thoroughly entertained. You’ll be sharing page after page with your family, friends, and neighbors.
Mr. Pants It’s Go Time! by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R.H. Lazzell (ages 6 – 9)
Mr. Pants really wants to go to laser tag but since he didn’t clean his room, his mom lets his sister (who cleaned her room) pick. Now he’s stuck going to Fairy Princess Dream Factory and when he does get to go play laser tag, it’s not exactly like he imagined. I love the drawing style — simple, bright, and cute — but even better, the story is fun and entertaining. My 9-year old has read this book at least 3 times already.
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Big Birthday Bash by Frank Cammuso (ages 7 – 9)
In this Salem adventure, Salem predictably makes disasters happen everywhere she goes. She has some trouble with making things (herself) gigantic and other things (the birthday party kids) small. Hilarious, wacky, and totally enjoyable.
Cast Away on the Letter A by Fred (ages 8 – 12)
This wacky adventure is like Alice in Wonderland but as a comic book starring a French lad named Philemon who falls down a well and ends up in another land (the island of A) where things are quite bizarre. Really bizarre. I’m still deciding if I like it.
In Real Life by Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang (Young Adult)
This is a most interesting graphic novel that contrasts teen Anda’s real life and her gaming life and raises big issues about poverty, culture, and fitting in. I found it very thought-provoking and suggest this for a book club since it has rich discussion possibilities.
Reading with Pictures: Comics that Teach Core Concepts in Science, Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts by Josh Elder (ages 7 – 12)
Meant for a classroom or homeschool instruction, I think this book would be better split up into small comics, as opposed to a large book. As it is now, it’s a huge tome filled with comics by various creators on different, seemingly random educational topics such as figures of speech, force & motion, George Washington, and Roman Numerals. I think it has possibilities.
** ALL these titles I’ve added to my bigger lists of recommended books by age.
Book Lists By Age