Manga is a great way to introduce your kids to the world of comics. But the manga section of your local Barnes and Nobles can be a confusing place for a parent, especially if your little one has older siblings or friends who are manga fans. I’ll confess, when I was a kid, I got my parents to buy a lot of comics for me that were probably WAY age-inappropriate just because they looked like they were meant for kids. Oops.
To help you avoid that quagmire of awkward questions, I’ve compiled a list of some G-rated manga that even 9-year-old me would’ve loved.
Nearly every manga fan I polled during my quest for the kid-friendly cream of the crop immediately answered, “OH! Yotsuba!” Yotsuba’s titular character is an adopted five-year-old learning about the new world around her. This one is great for younger readers– no continuing plot, but lots of explanations about things like air conditioners, playgrounds, and making friends. Yotsuba’s an adorably optimistic slice-of-life with the motto, “Enjoy everything!”
Gon is the last dinosaur alive which means he must be the best at everything: eating, stomping, running, and living. Another choice for younger kids, Gon has no words but the simple plots and wonderfully illustrated pictures are easy to follow. If you’ve got a little animal lover in your home, they’ll love the almost National Geographic level of detail the artist Masashi Tanaka gives to the other creatures in Gon’s world.
Kyuma is training to be a ninja with his dog up in the mountains when he mistakes a local baseball coach for his ninja master. Thinking that he’s going into the war he’s been training for all of his life, Kyuma gives his all hilariously to this underdog baseball team. And his team, while bemused by his intensity, supports him all the way.
Kanon and her friends meet a magical fairy who helps them to become famous singers. Think of it like Hannah Montana but cuter. Like Ninja Baseball Kyuma! Fairy Idol Kanon teaches kids about the importance of teamwork, responsibility and the importance of following your dreams. Also like Kyuma, Kanon is translated into English for manga company UDON’s kid’s line (http://www.mangaforkids.com/), which specifically aims to foster a love of reading in kids ages 7-12.
As a super book nerd, I love this one and so will your fantasy fan. Kiichi is cast out of his village after his mother dies. Why? Well, he has a horn growing out of his forehead and everyone thinks that’s super weird. He meets a man with a magical, traveling library and finds a book about people like himself, but unfortunately he can’t read. Kiichi decides to join the librarian on his journeys, learns to read, and hangs out with a girl named Hanako who escaped from a book and is made of ink.