Manga Classics: A New Reason To Give Your Kids Comic Books

Not that you should need new reasons to buy your kids comic books. Comics are one of the most amazing forms of storytelling ever. I didn’t grow up on them, but I wish I had. The form has limitations, like anything else, but the visual nature of telling stories in comics, the way even the arrangement of the frames can communicate and move the action along, can give kids an instinctual feel for the structure of storytelling. Sometimes we worry so much about our kids becoming good readers that we dismiss things like comics as fluff that isn’t “real reading.” But learning to love story, well-told tales in any form, is the true foundation for being a good reader.

How was that? Did I convince you that there’s an adequately intellectual reason to sit down with a good comic book?

If not, try these on for size. UDON Entertainment and Morpheus Publishing Limited has a new line of books which adapts classic literature into manga editions. (If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, manga is a Japanese style of comics.)  Right now they have Pride and Prejudice and Les Miserables available for purchase, but I understand more are in the pipeline. Which we will be buying as soon as they are out. Because they are awesome.


My husband picked these up a couple of weeks ago when he was working the ALA conference, and my 9-year-old devoured them both in two days. Then my 7-year-old picked up Pride and Prejudice. Then the next thing you knew, we were watching the BBC mini-series and my children were quoting a hysterical Mrs. Bennet in hilariously atrocious British accents. Then my English teacher heart swelled up and burst.

They love these stories, you guys. Because, come on, these are some of the best stories ever told. And the simplicity and beautiful artwork in these books gave them access to something that would otherwise have been years away (if they ever read them at all because, be honest, how many of you have actually READ Les Miserables?)

If you care about such things, these are also a great intro to manga as an art form. They are beautiful. And they each come with a fun little “how to read manga” page that walks them through the dizzying nature of reading right to left. That aspect of the whole thing was also really fun for them.

So what do you think? Classic literature definitely makes comic books intellectual enough, wouldn’t you say? If not, we can call them “graphic novels.” I’ve heard that helps.


Quick note for parents: These are kid safe. Even the desperate Fantine portions of Les Miserables are handled nicely, which is to say that it shows her desperation and is gut-wrenching, but when she sells herself, there is nothing remotely explicit. In fact, it’s handled so obliquely that I’m pretty sure my kids didn’t even know what had happened.

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