The GeekMoms and GeekDads would like to thank everyone who came out to our Geeky Parenting NY ComicCon panel. We had a lively discussion with our audience about raising our geeklets in our own geeky image. During the panel I talked about the booming world of graphic novels for kids.
The impetus for my deep dig into graphic novels for young readers came one day when Raina Telgemeier’s Smile was sitting out on my desk. My daughter gravitated toward the big smiley face on the cover and asked, “What’s this?” I explained it was a graphic novel that I was going to start reading, and she asked if we could read it together. All I knew about the book was that it was about a girl getting braces. Seemed fine, so why not? We got about halfway through and an earthquake in the book made me stop for the night (my daughter is terrified of natural disasters). While my daughter slept, I read ahead in the book and decided it wasn’t for her. The earthquake wasn’t so dramatic, but it was so full of the issues surrounding puberty that I thought it would be much better for her in a couple years. I mean, she’s only 6.
I searched bookstores and comic book stores finding more that were age appropriate for her. We already knew Captain Underpants and the entire Dav Pilkey oeuvre as well as some of the Babymouse series. These are like the gateway drugs into graphic novels, with their broad appeal to the elementary school set. But what else is out there?
There are some books that my little avid reader has already outgrown, like the adorable Toon Books. With leveled titles like Benny and Penny and Otto’s Orange Day, these are amazing books for young readers. Then there’s the brilliant new Nursery Rhyme Comics. You can share these with toddlers, but the art from over 50 comic book illustrators will keep anyone older interested in reading them. (Read my full review here and GeekMom Melissa’s review here.)
There are a bunch of graphic novels that are overloaded with appeal for younger kids, with fantasy characters like Sidekicks, Magic Pickle, The Secret Science Alliance, and Zita the Spacegirl. One of my favorite recent books is Sara Varon’s Bake Sale about a Cupcake who owns a bakery and is in a band with his friend, Eggplant (Read Rebecca’s review.) My daughter devoured this book. And the Amelia Rules! series is a great substitute for Smile for the early elementary set.
After a good dose of lighthearted fun, kids can eventually graduate into darker territory with dead or missing parents, alternate universes, monsters, and battles, with titles like The New Brighton Archeological Society, Mouse Guard, and Amulet. I wish I could tell you that we waited another year or two to read Amulet, but when Scholastic sent me a package with the first two books my daughter saw the pink bunny and the robots and read the first book cover to cover before I had a chance to take a look. In the first few pages it’s got both a parent killed and parent in need of rescue, but it also has a very capable girl and her younger brother.
There are tons of graphic novels that feature great role models for boys and for girls. The list above just scratches the surface and doesn’t include the giant stack that I found while at ComicCon, so stay tuned for more. In other exciting news, Stan Lee is launching a kids’ imprint called Stan Lee’s Kids Universe. I’ll be keeping an eye out for those!
Got any graphic novel favorites to recommend?