Comic strips are a great way to get kids interested in reading. The combination of art, humor, and storytelling can capture children’s attention and inspire a lifelong love of reading.
When choosing comic strips for kids, it’s important to find options that are age-appropriate, entertaining, and even educational. This article explores some of the best comic strip options to engage young readers that span both ongoing strips and compiled collections.
What Makes a Good Comic Strip for Children?
When evaluating comic strips for children, there are a few key criteria to consider that set good options apart from the rest:
Age-Appropriate Content and Humor
First and foremost, the content and humor should be appropriate for the intended age group. Comic strips geared towards 4-year-olds will look very different than those for tweens in terms of complexity. The jokes should not go over kids’ heads or include anything scary or inappropriate that could upset or confuse them.
Relatable Characters and Stories
Children need to see themselves reflected in the media they consume to connect with it. Having relatable child characters and storylines allows kids to connect with and learn from the comic strips. The problems encountered should be issues a child could realistically face themselves in their daily lives.
Positive Messages and Morals
Look for comic strips that promote positive behavior and include moral lessons. Kids pick up on messages quickly, so make sure they emphasize values like honesty, kindness, determination, and respect.
Engaging Art and Dialogue
The illustration style and dialogue should capture children’s attention. Seek out expressive art with bright colors that will appeal to kids’ visual sensibilities. The dialogue should use natural, child-friendly language that is fun for them to read.
Best Ongoing Comic Strips for Children
Here are some of the most popular, long-running comic strips that are perfect for young readers even today:
|Friendship, school, and imagination
|Calvin and Hobbes
|Imagination, nature, and family
|Middle school, sports, friendship
- Premiered: 1950
- Best for: Ages 5–12
- Key characters: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and more
- Key themes: Friendship, school, imagination, positivity
With its simple art style and thoughtful storylines that resonate with children, Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts has endured for over 60 years. Relatable child characters deal with issues like insecurity, unrequited crushes, friendship troubles, and school anxieties that kids also face.
There’s also lots of silly imagination and adventure courtesy of Snoopy to engage readers. Sweet at its core, peanuts promote empathy and resilience.
Calvin and Hobbes
- Premiered: 1985
- Best for Ages 8–12
- Key characters: Calvin, Hobbes, Mom, and Dad
- Key themes: Imagination, friendship, nature, family
This comic masterpiece by Bill Watterson follows a young boy and his stuffed tiger on their zany adventures. Calvin has a unique perspective on the world for a child, and his wild imagination often gets him into trouble.
Through it all, Hobbes is his loyal companion, dishing out wisdom and humor as Calvin’s best friend. Calvin and Hobbes celebrate creativity, friendship, and childhood wonder.
- Premiered: 1991
- Best for: Ages 8–12
- Key characters: Nate, Francis, Teddy, Dee Dee, and Coach John
- Key themes: Middle school, sports, friendship drama
Created by Lincoln Peirce, Big Nate centers on sixth-grader Nate Wright. He’s messy, rebellious, sarcastic, and always in detention. He battles with teachers, principals, and sometimes friends and family too.
But he means well and tries to do better, showing gradual growth. With lots of humor and “diary entries,” Big Nate tackles the challenges of middle school life.
Best Comic Strip Collections for Kids
Along with ongoing strips, there are also fantastic comic strip compilation books to engage young readers. Here are some standouts:
The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
This hefty tome collects every Calvin and Hobbes strip from 1985 to 1995. It follows Calvin from age 6 to 8, chronicling his adventures, imagination, and evolving friendship with Hobbes over the years. Bill Watterson’s art and storytelling are unmatched, making this a treasured collection.
Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays
Winsor McCay’s fantastical Little Nemo in Slumberland ran as a weekly Sunday comic strip from 1905–1914. This oversized book compiles the gorgeous full-page Sunday comics that follow young Nemo through wondrous dreamscapes. The art and colors are breathtaking for readers of all ages to enjoy.
The Essential Peanuts
While The Complete Peanuts spans over 20 volumes, this book collects key story arcs of Charles M. Schulz’s classic strip from 1950–1999. All the beloved characters are included as Charlie Brown tries to fly a kite, Snoopy imagines himself as a World War I flying ace, and the gang plays endless games of baseball over the years.
Big Nate: From the Top
Lincoln Peirce’s Big Nate has spawned dozens of compilation books. Big Nate: From the Top collects full-color Sunday comics from 2014–2016. Nate’s misadventures tackle subjects like time management, social status, and unrequited crushes that middle schoolers will relate to.
Tips for Parents on Using Comic Strips to Engage Young Readers
Comic strips can play a valuable role in developing children’s literacy skills. Here are some tips for parents:
- Read comic strips together. Take time to read side-by-side, discuss the story and characters, and define new words together. This builds comprehension, vocabulary, and parent-child bonding.
- Connect comic themes to your child’s life. Relate comic strip themes to things your child encounters in their daily life. This helps develop critical thinking abilities by making connections.
- Encourage comic strip creation. Provide art supplies and space to allow your child to create their comic strips. This boosts creative writing and art skills through hands-on imagination and storytelling.
- Use comic strips to inspire more reading. Allow comic strip collections to count toward reading time and goals. They can be a gateway into reading more traditional books as children’s skills grow.
- Set a good reading example. Model reading comic strips, books, and other materials yourself to demonstrate the joy of reading for your child to follow.
The Best in Classic Fun
Comic strips offer timeless, engaging storytelling that speaks to children’s sensibilities in an impactful way. For kids, they provide humor along with opportunities to learn positive social skills and values.
Immersing children in beloved comic strips fosters a lifelong appreciation for reading and art. From Peanuts to Calvin and Hobbes to Big Nate and beyond, these classics are sure to inspire smiles and imagination for generations to come by engaging young readers.
Look Here: Best Punisher Comics