Introducing an early reader to comics -- recommendations?

My son is almost 4½ years old, he knows his letters and numbers cold, and is starting to put together those letters into written words.

I want to introduce him to quality comics as a way to get him reading early.

Initially I was thinking classics like Elfquest and Bone and Groo. But those might be a little over his head at 4½.

So I’d like advice in two parts:

  1. What are some good comic series for very young beginning readers?
  2. For the future reference of this parent, and any other parent, what are some great, classic comic series that every 5 - 8 year old should experience? Anything aimed at kids age 10+ or teens would be too far in the future for me to think about right now. But I am going to start the hoarding for the next 5 years, so I can hand my son a preloaded Pad 6 or Nexus 12 in a few years and watch his brain explode with the awesome.

Where better to ask this question than Boing Boing?

And please, for the love of all that’s holy, no Archie or Jughead. Not even in jest. I can’t do that to my progeny.


Books for children his age and reading ability are pretty close to being comics already, with often a sentence per page with a large accompanying illustration. I’m not sure what comics really bring to the table. I guess most comics tend to focus on dialog more than kids books do. I wonder if that’s because young children would have a harder time following dialog? I’m not sure.

Also, I guess comics often tell a longer story than the average children’s book.

My Son (now 9) loves reading. Whether that’s down to me as a parent or a predisposition on his part, I couldn’t say. However, I’ve spent about 20 minutes reading to him every night before bed since he was about 2 years old.

Wow. That’s 850 hours of reading.

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Well, as long as you get him started on Groo eventually.


And Asterix. And Tin Tin.


I found for my son (6 now) starting with ones he was familiar with from other media (e.g. TV, film) was the way to get him interested. Once that happened he was willing to try other things.

So, the classic Disney Duck/Mouse, the superheroes from The Avengers and Super Hero Squad, Adventure Time (current favourite, too hard for 4.5 - probably needs to be 6 at least), Cars, Fraggle Rock, Ninjago, Teen Titans. Some of these might not be the greatest comics ever written, but were very good for the getting/keeping interested in reading and exposing to comics aims.

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For the first, let me throw to you OWLY. OWLY OWLY OWLY. Sweet, cute, smart, touching, adorable. I can not recommend this enough. Check out the author’s page at for more info.


Some people on Twitter recommended Seuss and Sendak and Silverstein, and although those are obviously classic, and generally fit the 4 - 8 age range in question, I do not think of them as “comic books” per se.

Some other Twitter recs which are actually comic books:

We do watch the Teen Titans cartoon, which is incredibly off-kilter and amazing. Almost as big a fan of this I am of the Aquabats show.

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Don’t have anything for 1, but for 2:

And, as others have suggested:

  • Asterix & Oblelix
  • Tin Tin

if Tin Tin goes down well, try The Rainbow Orchid by Garen Ewing.

Actually, you should buy Mouse Guard and read it yourself anyway - it’s sooo good.


Definitely will look into Asterix, Tin Tin. We have the Tin Tin cartoons and the CGI movie, which are excellent.

The strongest emerging recommendation is for the Carl Barks Donald Duck stories. Heck, it was even covered right here on Boing Boing by our very own @frauenfelder!

I’ve written about the great cartoonist Carl Barks before. If I were forced to get rid of all comic books and comic book anthologies except for the works of one artist, I would save Carl Barks and (tearfully) toss everything else.

Strong praise indeed. There are a ton of volumes available on Amazon now, but filtering to the “Complete Carl Barks Disney Library” and sorting by release date…

The first is, as Mark noted, Lost in the Andes – but it’s confusingly marked “Vol. 7”.

The second is Only a Poor Old Man, again, confusingly marked “Vol. 12” (?)

I’m sure they’re all great, and I’ll order these two to start and see how my son responds to them. But is there some particular order here that I should consider, or does it not matter?


Asterix is a MUST. And I think Bone can be perfectly enjoyable at 4-5.


Another rec, not strictly a comic book series, but enjoyable nonetheless: Marvel’s Wizard of Oz series by Eric Shanower.

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Hero Petz

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Seconding Asterix and Tintin for 4 1/2! I’m a huge fan of Elfquest, Bone and Groo, too. Four years old might be a little early, but selected excerpts can’t hurt.


I really like the cartoon.

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Great! The easiest way to express that is by pressing the :heart: button under the post. :wink:

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Haven’t read the comic, but to add some variety, boingboing wrote nice stuff about “Akissi: kids’ comic about a mischievous girl in Cote D’Ivoire”. BTW there are also contemporary original childerns’ books with lots of pictures. I find this children’s book lovely - “Wave” by Suzy Lee (no text). Artsy and girly maybe. “The Tree House” by Marije Tolman & Ronald Tolman also nice, children’s book, only drawings, no text You might look into children’s illustrated books in general, like the ones they present at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. If someone you know is in Bologna, Italy next March it’s definitely worth it. Or check out the websites of the editors who partecipate - some are very interesting. Comics, comics, comics, … but for such young children nothing comes to mind. Yet.

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Donald Duck is a great idea. The ones Mark is writing about are re-releases of the original series, so it makes sense that the first one there could be volume 7. They’re not exactly going in order. From what I’ve heard from Mark, these are gorgeous reprints.

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Read them to your kids, even! My mom read my brother and me The Hobbit when we were kids. It was way too complicated for us at the time, but an animated storyteller can certainly make it accessible.


BTW I like Leo Espinosa style of illustration, also in children’s books Check out the whole blog, very inspiring.

BTW when I was about that age I actually read the Prince Valiant comics That is for the classics.

For the non comics books, I appreciated The Nevernding Story later on.

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I grew up on Asterix, so I’d definitely suggest that too - but stay away from the ones written after Goscinny died, they’re not a patch on the earlier stuff, Uderzo is nowhere near the writer he was.

The only comics I remember buying for myself were just the toy cash in-ones, mostly Transformers - but despite the crappiness of the TV series and the current film series, the comics were actually quite good - at least Bob Budiansky’s early stuff, and then Simon Furman’s. I have no idea if it’s possible to find the old comics anywhere, though - but this site offers scans - and one that’s on there now - ‘Wanted Galvatron!’ is particularly good (yay Death’s Head!)

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