Comic Books to Inspire a Love of Reading in All Ages

As we enter back-to-school season, many parents and teachers are once again faced with the challenge of convincing kids who won’t touch a book with a 10-foot pole to read. Instead of forcing another copy of “Little House on the Prairie” down their throats, why not try a different approach? Maybe a comic book?

Before you scoff at the idea that pictures and panels make for good reading, remember comics aren’t the childish medium many perceive them to be. In 1992, “Maus,” by Art Spiegelman, became the first graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize; Time magazine’s list of best 100 novels includes the comic “Watchmen;” and countless other comics have won literary awards around the world. It’s not all muscle men in tights — though you shouldn't disregard superhero stories because of questionable costume choices.

Traditional books often take the highest praise, but there are equally compelling, challenging, and imaginative tales in the pages of a comic. These stories can inspire a love of reading in everyone, from early elementary school readers to parents waiting in the after school pick-up line. Start your comic experience with a few of these titles that are so good, you might even call them “literature.”

“Ghosts” by Raina Telgemeier
Ages 8–13
Cat’s family is moving to the California coast, where the ocean air will help the health of her sister, Maya, who suffers from cystic fibrosis. Leaving her friends behind was bad enough, but Cat soon discovers her new town is haunted by ghosts! Maya is eager to meet one, but Cat is more concerned with fears that her little sister might soon join them. Eisner Award-winning author Raina Telgemeier presents a story about death, family, and what it takes to overcome our fears for ourselves and the people we love.

“Ms. Marvel” from Marvel Comics
Ages 12+
Nicknamed “Spider-Man for the 21st century,” “Ms. Marvel” follows Pakistani-American geek girl Kamala Khan, who unexpectedly develops shapeshifting powers. Taking the mantel of her favorite superhero, the new Ms. Marvel struggles to balance school, friends, and protecting her hometown of Jersey City. Since its stunning debut in 2014, “Ms. Marvel” has won several awards with a story about facing despair with hope and staying true to yourself, reminding readers that “good isn’t a thing you are; it’s a thing you do.”

“Maus” by Art Spiegelman
Ages 14+
The aforementioned “Maus” shocked the literary world when it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, though that wasn’t the first or last award the chilling series has claimed. Spiegelman stepped into the darkest part of history to interview his father, a Polish Jew and Holocaust survivor, and record his story. Depicting Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, “Maus” is an account of unspeakable horrors, and the struggle survivors, and their families, faced long after World War II.

These are just a few of the countless incredible titles waiting to be read. Whether you’re a fan of history, mystery, horror, or slice-of-life stories, your new favorite comic is waiting for you!