What are the best graphic novels for kids in K-5? – The 74

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If you’re a parent, you’ve probably noticed that comics are once again for kids. For decades, the mainstream comics industry has churned out a succession of darker, grittier versions of their most beloved characters, designed for so-called mature readers. But somewhere in the early years, comics for all ages began to flourish, published by independent pioneers like Papercutz and Toon Books, as well as traditional children’s book publishers like Scholastic. In the years that followed, the quantity and quality of children’s graphic novels only increased. Marvel may dominate at the box office, but it’s Dog Man who dominates at the bookstore — every time Dav Pilkey releases a new volume, it instantly becomes a bestseller.

But which graphic novels should your kids choose when they’re ready to graduate from Dog Man (or maybe they’re not even at that reading level yet?). The choices are dizzying and without any recognizable characters from your own childhood to guide you, it can be hard to know where to start. This is where we come in. During the pandemic, my then 6-year-old son and I found ourselves reading tons of children’s graphic novels together, and we set up a small table outside a local playground to sell select volumes. to neighborhood families. under the name Hey Kids Comics! We then launched a subscription service, sending picks for the best children’s graphic novel of the month as well as a zine that we publish to children across the United States, and last October we opened a small store physics in Brooklyn.

Our entire selection is carefully curated. We divide it into categories such as Funny Ha Ha, Life on Planet Earth, Early Readers, Superheroes, True Stories, Adventure & Mystery, Fantasy, and Gamer Comics. To serve customers beyond New York, we have a virtual version on Bookshop.org, an alternative to Amazon that supports independent bookstores across the country.

Since we love to make both lists and recommendations, we’ve rounded up a few picks for your favorite young K-5 readers:


pizza my heart
By Mika Song

The latest book in Mika Song’s Norma and Belly series is an utter delight. Virtually every panel of her playful watercolor and ink drawings will put a smile on your face, and the writing is perfect for first-time readers.


Barb the Last Berzerker
By Dan and Jason

A feisty, comedic sword-and-sandal adventure starring a precocious girl named Barb and a yeti named porkchop. Do you like action? Do you like fantasy? Like laughing? You will love Barb. Created by the fertile minds of Dan & Jason (Blue, Barry and Pancakes).


Frankie’s world
By Aoife Dooley

This somewhat autobio-but-not-quite-autobio comic from Irish comedian Aoife Doolie, who has autism, is hugely entertaining and incredibly illuminating about what it’s like to be a kid who doesn’t know they’re on the spectrum. It’s a fresh and welcome take on the “graphic novel about a child who doesn’t fit in” genre that’s both heartfelt and funny like everyone else.


scared red
By Liam Walsh

If we told you that this is an amazing sci-fi adventure set against the backdrop of 1950s America and the polio epidemic, you might think that sounds a little too… exhilarating. So instead we’ll describe it as Tintin meets The Iron Giant. New York cartoonist Liam Walsh brings his A game to this book, using vivid visual storytelling to bring a compelling cast of characters to life.


Stig & Tilde: Island of the Vanishers
By Max De Radègues

The first graphic novel for young readers by Belgian cartoonist Max De Radegués is a perilous adventure full of mystery and youthful antics. Twin siblings Stig and Tilde are about to take part in a local tradition that sees 14-year-olds surviving together on an island for a full year – but an accident leaves them stranded on the wrong island. A page-turning survival story ensues.


fighting boy
By Paul Pope

Perhaps one of the best graphic novels ever made for young readers is this 2013 hidden gem from acclaimed artist Paul Pope. If you like a good boy vs. monster tale and are ready to have your eyeballs blasted, give this a try.

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