The Eisner Award nominations were announced this week, which is huge news in the comic book world—these awards are basically the Oscars of comic books. So if you’re looking to get into comics, checking out the nominees isn’t a bad place to start—they run the gamut from single issues of superhero comics to books aimed at younger readers to books about comics to collections of classic material (like the Prince Valiant collections or MAD Magazine Fold-In collection that are nominated this year. I haven’t seen that MAD one yet, but gosh, that sounds cool). 

And there are a few nominations I’m really excited about—Zita the Spacegirl, which I talked about recently, is up for best kids’ publication for ages 8-12, and Anya’s Ghost, one of my favorite books of 2011, is up for best Young Adult work. 20th Century Boys, which I recommended just last week, is up for best continuing series, a couple of my other favorite ongoing series, Unwritten and Locke and Key, both had issues singled out for the best single issue/one-shot category, and Life with Archie (which I have talked about a few times) is up for best Young Adult publication (apparently those more-serious stories are really hitting the mark). If my recommendations haven’t been enough to convince you, maybe the Oscars of comics will be!

And if you’re looking for reading material for little kids beyond the Eisner nominees (though those are all excellent places to start), I have a few more suggestions for you. I often talk to people who are slightly amazed at how many great comics there are for kids—but really, there have always been great comics for kids! I think superhero movies just overshadow them in our cultural imagination sometimes, which is a shame, because there’s so much more out there. Frankly, there are a lot of great superhero stories aimed at kids. Marvel does little digests featuring their regular characters, but in much tamer/sillier storylines, and DC has a couple of really great series aimed at kids. Batman: Brave and the Bold was nominated for an Eisner this year (and also is a cartoon on the Cartoon Network), but I actually like Tiny Titans best. Like other books aimed at younger readers, it features superhero sidekicks, but unlike a lot of other superhero stories written for kids, it’s not drawn like a traditional superhero book—but is instead adorable. This may be off-putting for slightly older children who could consider it babyish, but it’s perfect for little ones—and for grownups who like cute things! The stories are charming as well—in one crossover rife with hilarity, the gang from L’il Archie ends up with the Tiny Titans’ costumes after a laundromat snafu. Such hijinks! (I do actually think the series is great, despite how sarcastic that sounded.)

If superheroes aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other series for kids—several of my favorites are actually manga, but they translate really well. The first, Chi’s Sweet Home, is about an extremely adorable kitten adopted by a family living in a building that doesn’t allow pets (spoiler alert: they move to a pet-friendly building in one of  the later volumes). The first couple of books have maybe a little too much baby talk, but this gets toned down pretty quickly and settles into a story that isn’t overly cutesy. But it is VERY cute. Perfect for any kids who love animals—and the trouble they can get into.

I also really like a series called Yotsuba&! (not a typo), about a slightly odd little green-haired girl who moves to a new neighborhood with her adoptive father and sets about making friends with the neighbors and conquering her new territory. Nothing too eventful happens, but her adventures are completely delightful—I actually think I know more adults than kids who read this one, but that just speaks to its all-ages appeal.