Reading a graphic novel of the Scrameustache, a comic book series I spent my summers reading at the local public library, I was reminded of all the good European comic books that I read as a kid and prepared me for more contemporary and mature material much later. I can definitely say that the first comic book series I ever read – before I could read was Boule and Bill. Boule is a red-hair kid and his obnoxious dog. It was as much fun as the Scrameustache, which is a about a cat-like alien and his human friend.
Much of the early European comic book material was published for kids and much of it has not aged much and is still relevant for readers these days. A lot of popular series, like the Smurfs, Astérix and Tintin have been translated in many languages and adapted for film and cartoon series. Many of these series are considered classics by European comic book fans and unlike much of what is created in the modern European comic books, American comics, and Japanese mangas, parents have no need to vet the material in advance. It’s usually quite safe and doesn't talk down to readers. Perhaps that’s why I can be immersed in the simplicity of a Spirou story.
A full list of European comic books suitable for kids would be long. I’ll just mention a few that might interest younger readers. Lucky Luke is always popular. Gaston Lagaffe, a slow-witted features tons of short gags that will remind readers of a sanitized Simpsons' strip. If the child is learning a second language, like French or Spanish, the comic books will be quite suitable aids too. Some like Boule and Bill are slangier, and others like Titeuf are edgier, while remaining in children’s territory. Most series mentioned above will have equal appeal to girls and boys, and will be good reads from five to twelve.