CBG’s latest project, A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics, came out of a brainstorming session. We are often asked these days what’s out there for children who would like to start reading comics. Even people who have been reading comics since their own childhood may not be aware of the incredible variety of comics available to today’s young readers. We discussed the fact that, while there have been a few books that have showcased and reviewed graphic novels, we had not seen a full-color, illustrated volume specifically aimed at parents, teachers, librarians, and educators who were looking for comics for kids. So it was that we began a search outside the collectors’ field for the experts who would write this volume. Library professionals and children’s literature experts Snow Wildsmith and Scott Robins succeeded beyond our wildest expectations and even introduced us to many comics we’d never read, despite our decades of reading — and writing about — comic art.
• Comic books were stereotyped for decades as being only for kids. That was even despite their beginnings as reprints of strips that had originally run in newspapers for adults. These days, though, comic books aimed at younger readers can be hard to find. “Comics aren’t just for kids any more” has become a catchphrase — but the catch to that catchphrase is that adults looking for comics stories for young readers can find it challenging.
• Nevertheless, Jim Trelease, in his bestselling guide to developing avid readers, The Read-Aloud Handbook, for more than a decade has made frequent comments promoting the importance and usefulness of series reading and comic books in developing readers. He cited, for example, the case of Sustained Silent Reading Guinness world record-holder Dr. Robert Allen, whose motivating reading at age 7 included Donald Duck comics. Trelease responded to the question “My son loves comic books — Is that good or bad?” by strongly recommending comics, concluding: “On the basis of my personal experiences and the research available, I would go so far as to say if you have a child who is struggling with reading, connect him or her with comics. If an interest appears, feed it with more comics.”
• We designed A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics to be an introduction to our vast field. There are many excellent comics for young readers — and for those who enjoy sharing reading comics with those young readers. Many comics are, in fact, truly for “all ages” — and we just couldn’t cram them all into our single volume. And comics magazines themselves go on and off sale too quickly for a trade paperback designed as an ongoing reference. The goal, then, was to come up with a handbook that wouldn’t overwhelm people who are looking for a quick survey of some of the terrific comic books they could find in comics shops, bookstores, and libraries.
So Snow and Scott came up with a list of 100 of the best — and then provided more, more, more.
• Kids’ reading abilities differ. So what comics are best for what reading level? Scott and Snow sorted their recommendations by grade. Of course, all such suggestions are just that: If the reader is an eager, easy reader before beginning school, it’s a simple matter to look at the next level. If the reader is still having trouble with word recognition or phonics, adults may choose to begin with choices in the first chapter — including those with little or no text.
• Some adults appreciate content cautions. Snow and Scott alert readers to content of possible concern in a “Heads Up” advisory where it’s appropriate.
• It may be hard to find the wide variety of recommendations, even in a many-shelved Barnes & Noble. Our information includes ISBN numbers for quick location and publisher websites for more information, and we’ve included pricing current as of today, since that, too, is a concern for any buyer.
• In many cases, a recommendation is for a series that contains several volumes. Snow and Scott identify their titles and sequence of publication so that readers who want to begin at the beginning can do so.
• Oh, and when it comes to more … Snow and Scott recommend “What’s Next …” options.
Take a look.
By Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith
Full-color trade paperback, 256 pages, $16.99
Also available as an ebook