Graphic novels for kids and comic books are excellent ways to introduce your children to interesting and complex topics, get them asking questions, improve their reading, and have a laugh!
There are differences between graphic novels and comic books, but in terms of structure, they are very similar. Both opt for the same story-telling technique, using comic strips and visual images as the main writing method.
However, while comic book series are almost always fictionalized, graphic novels are less genre-specific, often delving into historical fiction, non-fiction, and memoir.
Comic books are an excellent way to introduce your child to reading. They predominantly rely on pictures, allowing your child to enjoy the visual aid and get used to the concept of storytelling without diving straight into the more complicated books that use lots of words and are harder to follow.
Comic books can also be educational, allowing children to develop an understanding of basic but crucial themes, such as emotional control, forgiveness, behavioral standards, and even intense topics such as love and grief.
Introducing your child to these basic things can be super beneficial in the long run, as they encounter social interaction, familial relationships, and friendships, and begin experiencing unfamiliar emotions.
Big Nate is a simple comic book series, tailored to children aged 8+ and includes many of these topics, allowing children to learn how to appropriately deal with certain situations.
The Big Nate book series was written by Lincoln Peirce beginning in 1991 and has since been made into an animated television series, bringing to life Nate and his friends who experience sixth grade and all the things that go with it.
The series, both on paper and on-screen, explore topics such as friendships, academic hardships, crushes, bullying, and emotional strain.
If your child loves the Big Nate books and you want to find something similar, or if you’re just doing some research with the intention of introducing your child to reading, here are 20 recommendations of comic books similar to Big Nate.
Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke
The Mighty Jack series was released between 2016 and 2019 and is aimed at children between the ages of 6 and 10. It’s an imaginative tale set in a back garden that grows into a wild jungle filled with magical creatures and strange plants.
Mighty Jack and his autistic sister Maddy get up to a variety of things and go on numerous adventures. The original story is a spin on the iconic children’s tale Jack and the Beanstalk and incorporates many familiar themes, as well as providing an easy way of teaching children about autism and learning difficulties.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
El Deafo is a brilliantly innovative way of introducing children to deafness and living without hearing.
The story follows Cece, a deaf bunny who struggles with social interaction because of her hearing impairments. She is self-conscious about her Phonic Ear, leading her to create El Deafo, a superhero persona that allows her to gain confidence and interact more with other people in school.
When Stars Are Scattered by Omar Muhammed and Victoria Jamieson
This brilliant story is set in Africa, following two young boys who are living in a refugee camp in Kenya after fleeing their war-torn home in Somalia.
When Stars Are Scattered emphasizes the importance of dedication and perseverance and allows children to understand how other children across the world live. Although this story tells of the devastating circumstances these two boys endure and represent a generation of children who experience similar things in real life, the story still maintains a light-hearted and uplifting spirit.
CatStronauts by Drew Brockington
This wonderfully silly book follows a group of cats living as astronauts, circulating the solar system and going on adventures across different planets.
CatStronauts is a series of comic books that features the thrill of an action-packed story alongside a light-hearted humorous tone. This is a great book to read before bed and a brilliant book to introduce your little one to outer space!
Click! by Kayla Miller
This series is set in middle school and will most likely be enjoyed by readers of a similar age. Click! follows Olive and her best friends as they navigate school life, teachers, friends, crushes, and family life.
This series is jam-packed with funny, emotional, and frustrating stories that your middle schooler will relate to. It tells of the importance of friendship and the facade of popularity all the while following these lovable characters.
Sonic the Hedgehog by Ian Flynn
Sonic the Hedgehog, which was originally a character used in video games, is a popular comic book series following a super fast anthropomorphic blue hedgehog named Sonic who fights an evil scientist called Dr. Eggman.
These books have been loved for years and the character has been adored for even longer – they are funny, interesting, and gripping must-read books for young children.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins
This exceptionally funny book is silly and explores the life of Dave, who lives on a mysterious island where everyone is clean-shaven. Dave typically keeps himself to himself until he starts growing an uncontrollable beard.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil shows what life is like under strict conformity and follows Dave as he battles social embarrassment and living as an outcast.
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
This comic series was originally a YA novel written by the same author, covering the classic ‘Romeo and Juliet’ storyline, but adding a racial twist.
Noughts and Crosses is set in a divided society in which ‘Noughts’ and ‘Crosses’ do not mix. Sephy is a Cross, belonging to the division that runs society and is deemed socially ‘superior’ and Callum is a Nought, deemed as nothing more than an inferior servant.
They’ve been friends since they were children but now they are getting older and their feelings grow for each other in different ways. They must navigate their feelings, learn about their society, and realize how much threat they pose to society by loving each other.
A brilliant twist on racism and segregation, Noughts and Crosses is a must-read for an older child who should learn about racial history and differences.
Primates by Jim Ottaviani
This comic series is dedicated to teaching children about basic science through funny stories and wild characters.
Primates follows three women, all fantastic researchers in their own right, who take a closer look at primatology, teaching readers where humans came from and the basic scientific principles that support human existence.
Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson
This comic book has been made into a popular Netflix animated series that follows adventurer Hilda.
Hilda and the Troll explores numerous places, people, and animals throughout Hilda’s adventures and incorporates silly fantastical characters that spice up the stories and are guaranteed to excite young readers.
Cat Kid Comic Club by Dav Pilkey
From the creator of Dog Man comes this new comic series Cat Kid Comic Club which follows a group of baby frogs navigating childhood and going on different adventures.
These stories are made using various textures, allowing children to feel the page and tune into their sense of touch. Emotional, funny, and perfect for young children!
Minecraft by Sfé R. Monster
When Tyler moves out of his hometown his life changes immediately but he stays in contact with his friends through Minecraft.
This comic series cleverly dives into the popular game and tells of the online adventures these friends go on together.
Minecraft will be relatable to many readers and allows children to learn about the game and the world of online communication.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Victoria Jamieson, the brilliant graphic novelist, brings readers another best-seller through her Roller Girl series.
This story tells of the conflict between friendship and individuality. Astrid is forced to part with her childhood best friend in order to pursue her passion and this story teaches children the balance that should be met between pursuing interests and maintaining friendships.
Roy of the Rovers by Rob Williams
Perhaps tailored to older children, this comic series follows 16-year-old Roy who pursues his dream of playing football professionally.
Roy of the Rovers tells of his training, games, chances, and teammates and encourages children to get involved with team sports.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
If your child gets spooked easily, it may be an idea to miss this one out. Coraline is a brilliant but creepy story about a girl that steps into an alternate life and must fight to get back to her ordinary family.
Based on the original novel by the same author, this brilliant story has now been transformed into a graphic novel by the artistic talents of Craig Russell.
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
This comic series is based in the war-torn Nameless City which has numerous unusual and unfair regulations and social standards.
The Nameless City is a story of friendship, difference, and adventure – a must-read for children over the age of 10!
Avatar: The Last Airbender by Gene Luen Yang
This is a long series of comic books that incorporates traditional Chinese culture into an action-packed story of war, power, and turmoil.
Avatar is written by award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and is the perfect choice if your child is looking for a large series to keep themselves busy.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Ghosts follows Catrina and her family who move to the California coast in order to help her sister, Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis.
It doesn’t take long for Catrina to realize that they’ve moved somewhere spooky. Neighbors tell them of the ghost stories that haunt the town and Catrina is determined to find out the truth for herself.
Queer: A Graphic History by Meg-John Barker
This graphic novel has a slightly different flavor – it’s brilliant for introducing your child to the world of queer theory, but may be a little intense for many child readers.
Queer: A Graphic History is an accessible way of understanding the basics of homosexuality and gender identification topics.
Paper Girls by Brian Vaughan
Paper Girls is great for Stranger Things fans, as it also follows the lives of children in the 1980s.
Filled with mystery and drama, these stories combine the relatable with the fantastical, making for a brilliant and enjoyable read for many children.
This selection of graphic novels and comic books is varied in terms of appropriate age, theme, and tone. There are some fantastic funny comic books available for those wanting light-hearted reading before bed but also some educational and harder-hitting novels that will help your child develop and think.
Bonus: The most popular graphic novels for kids
- Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas by Dav Pilkey
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Graphic Novel by JK Rowling and Jim Kay
- Smile by Raina Telgemeier
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search by Gene Luen Yang
- Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce
- Adventures of Tintin: Tintin in America by Herge
- Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
- Captain Underpants: Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey
- The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
- Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley
- Drama by Raina Telgemeier
- Smile and Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
- Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
- Big Nate: Great Minds Think Alike by Lincoln Peirce
- Bone: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith
- The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby by Dav Pilkey
- Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang
- Smile and Sisters Two by Raina Telgemeier
- Babymouse: Queen of the World by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
- Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Frequently Asked Questions
What age group is Big Nate tailored to?
The series is appropriate for any child over the age of 8.
Is Big Nate funny?
Yes – alongside some of the more important themes included, the stories are guaranteed to make your child laugh out loud.
What are some children’s books that are similar to Big Nate?
If you’re not looking for a comic book, children’s novels such as The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, The Beano, and Captain Underpants are all similar to Big Nate in theme and tone.
At what age should children begin reading comic books?
This depends on the child and their level of development, but a benchmark age would be around 6 years old.
Are all comic books for kids?
No – there are some comic books out there written for adults and include very adult themes. You should be cautious when buying certain comic books and make sure they are age appropriate before purchasing.
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