comic books for young children?

Question on behalf of friends:

They are looking for comic books suitable for their five-year-old daughter to read. She reads at the level of an eight- or nine-year-old, in terms of vocabulary and comprehension; however, she does not have the emotional or psychological development of a kid that age. In particular, she has recently started to grok what death means, and is deeply upset by it; ergo stories that involve death are (at present) Right Out. (Even in a therapeutic, coming-to-terms-with-it way. The parents are handling the issue, but for now they don’t want to give her stories that will trigger a meltdown.) Ergo, they’re looking for lighthearted things with content suitable for a five-year-old, even if the language is more sophisticated than that.

Suggestions? My own knowledge of comic books is pretty narrow, and in terms of age suitability doesn’t go any younger than, oh, Elfquest. They want comic books because although their daughter’s reading comprehension is great, she’s much more interested in stories that have pictures than those without. And, y’know. The parents are geeks, too, and it’s never too early to indoctrinate your child!

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0 Responses to “comic books for young children?”

  1. houseboatonstyx

    Some vintage Superman, Wonder Woman?

  2. mrissa

    Ursula Vernon’s Nurk and Dragonbreath.

  3. teleidoplex

    I have the new My Little Pony on my shelf. I can give an update after I’ve read it if I think it is good indoctrination material?

    Otherwise, they do comic book versions of a lot of the classics. Alice in Wonderland, frex.

  4. wshaffer

    When I was six or seven or so, I adored the Asterix comics. There are a lot of volumes in the series, and I can’t swear that none of them involve death, but most of them are pretty lighthearted and goofy, so they might work with a little parental vetting.

    (Any child who reads enough of these will probably grow up to be a history buff and an ardent Gaulish sympathizer. To the bemusement of any future Latin teachers of theirs. But as you said, it’s never too early to indoctrinate your child!)

    Actually, while we’re on the subject of French comics, Tintin might be suitable as well, but I’m a bit embarrassed that I haven’t read any of those.

    • green_knight

      I was going to suggest Asterix, too – it’s mostly people getting knocked down and seeing stars.

      Tintin can be very racist in places, so might need more careful vetting. But other French comics of that school might work – there’s Lucky Luke (Westerns.. can’t vouch for suitability offhand). I was going to reccommend the Marsupilami, that fabled animal with its ridiculously long tail, but it appears not to have been translated into English.

    • maladaptive

      To the bemusement of any future Latin teachers of theirs

      I dunno, my first Latin teacher had Asterix in Latin and that’s the first place I saw the comic….

  5. novalis

    I really enjoyed _The Arrival_. I don’t recall if there’s any explicit death — I don’t think so, but please check.

  6. Anonymous

    Calvin and Hobbes

    Calvin and Hobbes is popular with many six year olds I know.

    • green_knight

      Re: Calvin and Hobbes

      Yeah, but Calvin can be absolutely gruesome, so if she’s in a triggery phase, Calvin and his smash-all-the-snowmen attitude might not be the right thing.

  7. vcmw

    I second the recommendation for Owly – I like that series a lot.
    I also really really like the Jill Thompson Magic Trixie series, which have beautiful watercolor painting pics and fun stories at an age level I think would be appropriate. There are little “kids” in the stories who are vampires, mummies, and ghosts though, so I don’t know if that would trigger a death thing – they don’t die, so I suspect not? They’re just part of a supernatural elementary school that meets in a park in the city. I’d still recommend that the parents do a glance through to make their own call, which is true for everything on this list except for Owly and Babymouse.

    I enjoy the Babymouse series, but I admit their pinkness does not work for everyone. They are lively and topically ok for a 5 yr old though.

    You could take a look at the Flight: Explorer thing. It’s a version of the Flight indie comics anthology series, but for kids. You’d have to carefully vet the books to check whether any individual stories have death elements.

    I think Ted Naifeh’s Polly and the Pirates could be good – if the parents flip through and like it – it’s visually dark but actiony, Oni press rates it 7+, I just flipped through my copy and there’s no death. His Courtney Crumrin series is a few years older though, and does have death in it.

    There’s a very good collection of Nursery Rhyme Comics, by various indie artists, but Mike Mignola did the creepy adaptation of the Solomon Grundy rhyme, and Solomon Grundy, of course, dies, so that could be a read with of specific ones, but not a read on her own.

  8. rachelmanija

    Indian comics!

    In general, “Tinkle” should be OK.

    Some of the “Fables” are too, but the parents should check individually. Some might have animal death or threatened animal death:

  9. lindenfoxcub

    I really enjoyed the Cosgrove Serendipity books (Serendipity, Flutterby, Morgan the unicorn, Leo the Lop, etc). They have some lovely themes, text on one page, opposite beautiful illustrations on the other. I don’t recall any of them ever dealing with death. I read them at around 5 or 6, but I had a somewhat older reading level. It’s a little above a typical picture book – it was my transition from picture books to chapter books.

    Another one I started reading a bit older, but that still has very young subject matter, was the Thornton Burgess chapter books. They’ve been around forever – stories of anthropomorphic animals.

  10. anialove

    I’m going to third Ursula Vernon’s Dragonbreath.

    Either of the series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Babymouse, Squish) would be good. Along those same lines is the Lunch Lady series by Jarret J. Krosoczka and The Flying Beaver Brothers by Maxwell Eaton III.

    Cat comics for kids are classics. There are the Binky Adventures by Ashley Spires, Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata, and Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamonroll by Yumi Tsukirino. For other animals there’s the Pet Shop Private Eye series by Colleen AF Venable. When she’s ready for stories about death, I’d recommend Miss Annie by Frank Le Gall.

    The Hilda books (two so far) by Luke Pearson are wonderful, very similar to Miyazaki’s works. Bit expensive, but worth it.

    The Toon Books line from Candlewick is excellent, but might not be advanced enough for her. The Shark King by R. Kikuo Johnson is an interesting take on a Hawaiian tale. The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra is the imprint’s first longer work, a sweet little book released last year that’s very reminiscent of classic comic books like Nemo.

    Raina Telgemeier’s stuff might be too old, but she writes excellent stories about junior high school age kids. Very funny. Same goes for the Lou! series by Julian Neel.

    I recommend poking around this blog: She’s a youth services librarian who frequently writes about graphic novels. And you might ask your local librarian for ideas – a good one will have lots.

  11. houseboatonstyx

    Dunno if there are comics, but the Oz books often state that no one ever dies in Oz! Parents better skim first, though, as the movie got pretty scary.

  12. temporaryworlds

    The Babymouse and Squish series seem like pretty good options. Also, their local comic book shop might be a good place to look for advice. My shop has a section on comics for kids, and the guy that works there is always very helpful and knowledgeable.

  13. edgyauthor

    Archie Comics would be a safe bet, I think. I was obsessed with them at that age and still read some now. Lines like Sabrina the Teenage Witch might need to be avoided, since some of those stories feature ghosts, which could trigger the death issue. In general, though, I can’t recall death ever coming up in these comics. Plus, they’re just plain, ol’ fun!

  14. Anonymous


    Yotsuba is a manga in which the main character is a 5-yo, which I read and enjoyed as an adult but which is kept in the children’s section at my library. Other than the fact that she’s an orphan (not a big plot point), I can’t remember if death or dying are ever brought up, though, so the parents should probably preview. It’s an incredibly charming series of stories about everyday discoveries.

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