Way back when I was around ten years old, I used to ride my bike to my town’s comic book store once or twice a week to see if any of my favorites had a new issue out. There wasn’t much that could make me as happy as when I’d get back home with a bag full of new comics to read. So for me as a librarian, to watch comics for kids taking off has been super exciting. The quality of the stories, the diversity of representation, the sheer variety of books for all age ranges is good news for literacy, libraries, and you! So let’s talk about comics! Oh, and if you prefer to call them “graphic novels,” that’s fine, too! I am sure that there are opinions out there about which term is better or more “correct,” but for me they amount to the same thing.
I like to think of certain comics as being so good, such instant classics with wide-ranging appeal, that they serve as entrance points into a lifetime of comics-reading for many a kiddo. Let’s look at these as pathways through the world of comics – from around Kindergarten level up to upper elementary, starting with…
The Elephant & Piggie Path
Wait, what? Elephant and Piggie? Yes! These delightful books (if you’ve never read one, I strongly urge you to do so! Here’s a link to a list of them in our catalog so you can place some holds right now) are the perfect bridge from picture books to comic books. There aren’t any panels, which some would say is a hallmark of the comic book, but with stories told entirely through speech-bubble dialogue and pictures, the framework is there. Early readers who eat these books up will be learning the visual literacy skills they need for moving on to slightly longer and more structurally complex comics, like the following!
The Dog Man Path
Truly a titan among comics for kids, Dog Man is well loved all over the world. The books in this series are overflowing with kid-appeal humor that just so happens to veer quite often into the potty category. They are also well-crafted stories with excellent characters, dramatic tension, and Flip-O-Rama. Never heard of Flip-O-Rama? Check out this amazing Dav Pilkey music video from the Library of Congress!
So if you or your kiddo have read every Dog Man book in the series seventy or eighty thousand times and want to try out something new, here you go!
The Baby-Sitters Club Path
The ups and downs of friendship, family drama, finding your way in the world – the stuff that makes the Baby-Sitters Club comic series so good is that there’s so much in it that we can relate to. Assuming that you’ve read the rest of the comics by Raina Telgemeier (who did the first four books), here are some more titles to make your day.
The Amulet Path
This epic fantasy adventure about a brother and sister pulled into another dimension has been a longtime favorite for comics readers who like an intense journey. With each book in the series presenting new challenges along their way, including the ever-present threat of the elves (yes, elves are pretty scary in this world), Amulet just keeps raising the stakes for its young heroes. If you enjoyed this masterpiece of visual storytelling, here are some more comics you’ll find satisfying.