Top 10 Manga for Early Readers: A Parent’s Guide to Choosing Age-Appropriate Content

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers: A Parent's Guide to Choosing Age-Appropriate Content

These are my top 10 manga for early readers. If you’re a parent new to the genre or a teacher trying to expand their library, you need to check out these manga.

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers: A Parent's Guide to Choosing Age-Appropriate Content

Why Should You Have Manga Available?

Many of you know that I lived in Japan for a long time. I ran an internationals school in Tokyo and Nagoya, then opened a kindergarten in Honolulu. I’ve spent much of my career teaching children how to read in English.

An interesting thing I learned was the idea of Singapore math. Singapore math is based on the idea that we take children from learning using concrete numbers to abstract numbers too quickly. When we move them from physical objects to numbers on the page, we lose a lot of kids and they never fully catch up.

I think of reading this way. We often move kids from picture books read by adults to complex novels without giving children the chance to fully grasp plot lines and complex characters. Once reading becomes a chore, it becomes more and more difficult to change their mindset.

Reading manga is a great way for kids to learn about stories and characters with pictures to help them muddle through the complexity of language. And while this may seem like a crutch, manga for early readers, and manga in general, is becoming an increasingly important genre on it’s own.

Understanding Manga for Early Readers

Manga for early readers offers an immersive and enriching literary experience, combining captivating visuals with compelling storytelling. This unique medium not only promotes visual literacy but also cultivates a love for reading among children.

With age-appropriate content tailored to engage middle schoolers and younger kids, manga serves as a gateway to the world of literature, sparking imagination and creativity in early readers.

Find out why I consider manga literature.

Selecting Age-Appropriate Manga for Early Readers

When choosing manga for early readers, it’s crucial to consider age-appropriate themes and content. Japan has different cultural norms than America, so finding the right content is important. Stories should be relatable and engaging for young readers, with themes that resonate with their experiences and interests.

1 What is Age Appropriate Manga for Early Readers?

Manga for early readers, children under the age of 7, are building friendships and experiencing personal growth. Look for manga that explores friendship, adventure, and personal growth while avoiding mature or complex subject matter that may not be suitable for young readers.

2 Recommendations for Selecting Manga for Early Readers

There are several ways to scout out manga for kids.

  • Join community parent groups online – These groups are often filled with members who swap books with each other and provide recommendations. Facebook (is for old people!), but they are really great at promoting local groups.
  • Ask a librarian – Libraries carry many types of manga now. If they don’t have a title, they can order it for you. The library is a great resource for recommendations.
  • Visit a local bookstore – Bookstores have great selections. I worked at a bookstore in college, and I learned you can order books from bookstores, too!
  • Talk to your child’s teacher – I love manga for early readers because it is fun to read. The stories are filled with great emotions and teach us about life and friendships.
Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

3 Understand Content Ratings

Understanding content ratings is also essential in ensuring the appropriateness of manga for early readers. Familiarize yourself with content ratings and parental guidelines provided by publishers or reputable sources.

This holds true for all genre’s of books, but especially with international literature. Cultural differences make impact your decision to allow students to read certain books.

4 How is Manga Rated?

Manga is rated A for all ages, T for teens, OT/T+ for older teens, and M for mature. Publishers rate manga themselves, but Japanese ratings are fairly standardized.

This is how ratings are categorized:

A for all ages – I would choose “A” for young children. Anything higher than this may be too mature for early readers. Manga like “Pokemon” are rated A, but keep in mind they may be too violent for children under age 5. Having lived in Japan though, I know children were reading Pokemon in kindergarten.

T for teens – These manga are for teenagers. They are geared towards children aged 12-14/15. “Bleach” would fall into this category. These are usually graphic but funny. People don’t usually die in these manga. If they do die, it’s a big deal in the story.

OT/T+ for older teens – These manga are for teenagers 16/17+ and adults. You might find manga like “Death Note” in this category. More violence, and possibly some sexual or mature content.

M for mature – These are for adults. These are manga like “Berserk”. Children shouldn’t read these because they are so graphic. I know one teenager who reads these but every time he mentions them, I remind him they are too graphic for him.

These ratings often provide valuable insights into the level of maturity in the content, helping parents make informed decisions about which manga is suitable for their children. By paying attention to these ratings, parents can confidently select age-appropriate manga that aligns with their child’s developmental stage and values.

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

The Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

With these ratings in mind, I compiled the top 10 manga for early readers. I chose these as a teacher and based on the manga my students and nieces love to read.

Manga for Early Readers: Yotsuba&!

1 “Yotsuba&!” by Kiyohiko Azuma – This delightful series follows the adventures of a curious and energetic young girl named Yotsuba as she explores the world around her. With its charming characters and simple yet engaging stories, “Yotsuba&!” is perfect for early readers. I love this series because it’s so cute.

Manga for Early Readers: Chi's Sweet Home

2 “Chi’s Sweet Home” by Kanata Konami – Follow the adorable misadventures of Chi, a playful kitten who gets into all sorts of trouble while exploring her new home. With its cute illustrations and lighthearted tone, “Chi’s Sweet Home” is sure to captivate young readers. My girly students LOVE reading this manga.

Manga for Early Readers: Doraemon

3 “Doraemon” by Fujiko F. Fujio – This classic manga series follows the adventures of Doraemon, a robotic cat from the future, and his young friend Nobita. With its imaginative storytelling and lovable characters, “Doraemon” has been entertaining readers of all ages for decades. This is a Japanese classic. Every kid in Japan knows this manga.

Manga for Early Readers: Pokemon

4 “Pokémon Adventures” by Hidenori Kusaka – Based on the popular Pokémon video games, this action-packed manga series follows the adventures of Pokémon Trainers as they journey through the world of Pokémon. With its exciting battles and colorful characters, “Pokémon Adventures” is sure to appeal to young fans of the franchise. An modern classic!

Manga for Early Readers: Sailor Moon

5 “Sailor Moon: Short Stories” by Naoko Takeuchi – In this collection of short stories based on the iconic “Sailor Moon” series, readers are treated to bite-sized adventures featuring their favorite characters. From magical transformations to epic battles against evil forces, each story is filled with excitement and wonder. With its captivating artwork and empowering themes of friendship and bravery, “Sailor Moon: Short Stories” offers young readers a delightful introduction to the beloved magical girl series. These manga got my niece – a reluctant reader – to read!

Manga for Early Readers: Chibi Naruto!

6 “Naruto: Chibi Sasuke’s Sharingan Legend” by Kenji Taira – This spin-off of the popular “Naruto” series features chibi versions of the characters in humorous situations. With its comedic tone and cute art style, “Naruto: Chibi Sasuke’s Sharingan Legend” is a fun introduction to the world of ninjas for young readers. This is Naruto light for kids.

Manga for Early Readers: My Neighbor Totoro

7 “My Neighbor Totoro” by Hayao Miyazaki – Based on the beloved Studio Ghibli film, this manga adaptation follows the adventures of two sisters who encounter magical creatures in the countryside. With its enchanting story and beautiful artwork, “My Neighbor Totoro” is sure to captivate readers of all ages. I remember when I read this with my oldest niece. She loved it.

Manga for Early Readers: Kiki's Delivery Service

8 “Kiki’s Delivery Service” by Eiko Kadono and Hayao Miyazaki– Another Studio Ghibli adaptation, this manga follows the story of a young witch named Kiki who starts her own delivery service. With its charming characters and heartwarming story, “Kiki’s Delivery Service” is a delightful read for young readers. Just like the anime, the manga is great for any bookshelf!

Manga for Early Readers: Yokai Watch

9 “Yo-kai Watch” by Noriyuki Konishi – Based on the popular video game and anime series, “Yo-kai Watch” follows the adventures of Nate Adams, a young boy who can see and communicate with mischievous Yo-kai spirits. Together with his Yo-kai friends, Nate solves everyday problems and battles against malevolent spirits. With its colorful characters and humorous stories, “Yo-kai Watch” is sure to entertain young readers. There’s even a whole dance for this one. The kids love it!

Manga for Early Readers: Sazae-San

10 “Sazae-san” by Machiko Hasegawa – This is the longest running manga series. It follows the daily lives of the Sazae family in post-war Japan. With its slice-of-life storytelling and relatable characters, “Sazae-san” offers a charming glimpse into Japanese family life. I had to include this manga for early readers because its a family staple in Japan. Note: This is the Japanese cover because the I couldn’t find the new one. Trust me, its super cute! When I lived in Japan, I lived in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo. That is Sazae-san’s town!

The Benefits of Manga for Early Readers in Developing Empathy

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

1 Promoting Cultural Understanding

Manga for early readers contributes significantly to promoting cultural understanding and empathy among young audiences. Through diverse characters, settings, and narratives, age-appropriate manga introduces children to different cultures, traditions, and perspectives in an engaging and accessible format.

This exposure helps broaden their awareness of the world around them and fosters a sense of empathy towards individuals from diverse backgrounds. By immersing themselves in these stories, young readers can develop a greater appreciation for cultural diversity and learn to embrace differences with respect and understanding.

2 Encouraging Emotional Connection

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

The illustrative storytelling in manga serves as a powerful catalyst for encouraging emotional connections and nurturing empathy in young readers. As children engage with the characters’ experiences and emotions depicted in manga, they develop a deeper understanding of diverse perspectives and the complexities of human feelings.

Through relatable narratives that explore friendship, compassion, and resilience, age-appropriate manga encourages readers to empathize with others while also gaining insights into their own emotions. This emotional engagement not only enriches the reading experience but also cultivates essential social and emotional skills that contribute to well-rounded personal development.

Incorporating Manga for Early Readers

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

1 Enhancing Visual Literacy

Manga for early readers plays a pivotal role in enhancing visual literacy. The combination of vivid illustrations and text prompts children to interpret visual cues, comprehend facial expressions, and follow the sequential flow of the story. This step is crucial for reading more complex material when students get older.

As young readers engage with manga, they learn to decipher non-verbal communication and interpret nuanced visual details, which are valuable skills applicable beyond the realm of literature. By immersing themselves in the visually rich world of manga, children develop a heightened sensitivity to visual narratives, laying a strong foundation for enhanced visual literacy.

2 Manga for Early Readers Encourages Engagement in Reluctant Readers

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

Manga serves as a powerful tool for engaging young readers and igniting a passion for reading. The dynamic visuals coupled with compelling narratives capture the attention of early readers, drawing them into the captivating world of storytelling.

The accessible format of manga, with its blend of images and text, provides an inviting entry point for reluctant readers or those who may find traditional text-heavy books daunting.

As children immerse themselves in manga stories that resonate with their interests and experiences, they naturally develop a sense of reading enjoyment and curiosity. This engagement not only cultivates essential reading habits but also instills a lasting love for exploring diverse literary worlds.

Conclusion: Manga for Early Readers

Top 10 Manga for Early Readers

Manga is a great way for children to bridge the gap between complex storytelling and novels. Manga offers children the chance to engage in visual storytelling promoting creativity and fostering a love of reading.

When selecting manga for early readers, it’s essential to consider parental guidance for manga and ensure that the content aligns with age-appropriate themes and values.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list. If you need more book recommendations, please see these articles:

Sweet Books for Children

Children’s Books by Authors of Color

Best Books for Children Age 5

Meet Gunner – The Child Author!

Happy Reading!

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I am an educator with almost 15 years of experience teaching in Japan, Hawaii, and in Los Angeles. My goal is to change education and the way we view literacy instruction in America.

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