If you’re both a comics fan and also a parent, you’ve probably given at least some thought about how to introduce your child to comics.
For some people this is as easy as introducing your kid to an age-appropriate Batman comic, but that might not work for very young readers or for kids who aren’t drawn to superheroes.
Fortunately, there is more than one way to introduce your little one to the comic world. For example, lots of comic creators have a side gig writing and illustrating children’s books, which makes so much sense to me—comics have a lot in common with children’s literature. Both genres use art and dialogue to tell a story.
Below are ten books for young readers (ages 6–10, technically, but I think you can read all of them to younger kids) by some of the comic world’s favorite creators. Some are children’s books, some are comics aimed at kids, and some are a combination of the two. These are all great ways to introduce your child to some of comics’ talents, and also for you to see another side of your favorite creator.
Tinka by Rainy Dohaney
Fun fact: Rainy Dohaney is the pen name of Renée French, the comics writer and illustrator behind comics and graphic novels like The Ticking and H-Day. Although French’s graphic novel work is often unsettling, Tinka is a sweet, funny book about a sheep the size of a teacup who acutely feels how different she is from the other sheep, and must come to grips with her strengths as well as her weaknesses. It’s one of a couple children’s books by French.
Dino-Mike and the T. Rex Attack by Franco
Although he’s worked on more grown-up titles like Batman ’66, Franco Aureliani has spent a good chunk of his career working on comic books for younger readers, like DC’s Tiny Titans, Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam!, and Itty Bitty Hellboy. So if you’re looking to get comics into kids’ hands, he’s a good starting point for children. His Dino-Mike series is for younger readers who might be more into dinosaurs and less into capes, and might serve as a transition into comic books for young readers.
How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder
My kid has this book and I love it so much. It’s the charming story of a little girl who is determined to find and photograph a fox. There’s just one problem: foxes are tricksy. Known for her webcomic M.F.K., Magruder also wrote the adventure Marvel Rising: Heroes Of The Round Table last year, which featured Squirrel Girl, Miss Marvel and Spider-Man on a college tour gone wrong. (That one’s also kid-friendly if you have older kids.)
The Ordinary People Change the World series by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos
If you have kids who are part of the PBS programming crowd, you probably noticed that a new show joined the public broadcasting line-up last year: Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum. That show is based on the Ordinary People Change the World series, which features titles like I am Rosa Parks, I am Lucille Ball, and I am Walt Disney. Meltzer wrote Identity Crisis for DC, and has also written Green Arrow and Justice League of America. Eliopoulos is a prolific letterer who’s worked for Marvel, and DC. He’s also drawn some Star Wars comics. His drawings here and on the PBS show remind me a lot of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts work.
Jack and the Box by Art Spiegelman
Art Spiegelman is best known for Maus, but did you know that he and his wife founded a comic company aimed at kids? Toon Books makes some of my child’s favorite books and the art—usually by artists who more often work in grown-up forums, is often incredible. This book, about a bunny who opens a box to find sillier and sillier things, is part of the Toon Books line for the youngest readers.
Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan
This book is also from Toon Books, and it’s aimed at slightly older kids. Maya makes a mess at dinner and her parents tell her “if you eat like that, you’ll never get invited to dinner with the queen.” (I swear, it’s like someone has a camera in my house.) Except…there’s a knock and the door and what do you know, it’s an invite from the queen. That’s not a spoiler, the rest of the book focuses on that royal meal. Rutu Modan an Israeli comic creator and the co-founder of the Israel’s comics group Actus Tragicus. She’s known for her critically acclaimed graphic novels Exit Wounds and The Property.
Ana and the Cosmic Race by Amy Chu and Kata Kane
Amy Chu might be known for Red Sonja, Vampirella, Poison Ivy, and the like, but she’s also the author behind this sci-fi space adventure for young readers. Ana and the Cosmic Race is a comic series about 13-year-old Ana, who takes part in a cosmic scavenger hunt to help her struggling family. (The prize is the business empire of megaquadrillionaire Dr. Laslo.) Ana teams up with a classmate and competes against students from their rival schools. This series is best for slightly older kids, 10 and up.
Barbie: Big Dreams, Best Friends by Sarah Kuhn and Alitha E. Martinez
Bet you’re surprised to see a Barbie book on this list. I was surprised to include it, honestly. But this book is a comic aimed at kids 6–10 and it’s from two comic powerhouses: Kuhn, the talent between the excellent Shadow of the Batgirl (which will be released this March), and Martinez, who has worked on titles from World of Wakanda to Batgirl to Iron Man. In this series, Barbie is working as a fashion designer for a rock star, but then her designs go missing.
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
Neil Gaiman got his first big break when he took over writing duties for Sandman in 1989. Since then he’s gone on to write all sorts of books, including kids’ books. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish—a book I haven’t introduced to my kid for fear he’ll get ideas—is one of his first children’s books. The art for this book is by Dave McKean, who provided all the covers for Gaiman’s Sandman run.
Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson
Jill Thompson has worked on Sandman, Swamp Thing, and Wonder Woman, but she also writes children’s books, including Scary Godmother and the Magic Trixie series. Magic Trixie is a children’s book/comic hybrid about a little witch who has just about had it. She’s not allowed to do anything fun, while her baby sister gets away with everything. Also, no one ever takes her seriously. The first book in the series follows Trixie as she hatches a plan to impress her friends.