It's difficult not to be impressed by the lengths to which The Amazing Spider-Man 2 star Andrew Garfield and the film's supporting cast have gone to make themselves available to kids since rebooting the Spider-Man franchise two years ago. Whether they're showing up in costume at children's charity events, schools and hospitals, or simply staying in character when approached by pint-size fans, they've done an admirable job of pairing the usual promotional tour with real-world superhero moments that kids aren't likely to forget.
Still, it's worth noting that even though the upcoming PG-13 sequel to The Amazing Spider-Man features Marvel's friendliest neighborhood wall crawler, that doesn't mean it's an all-ages adventure. So what's a parent to do when your child loves big-screen superheroes but is too young to actually see the movies?
Well, you can start by looking over the following list we've compiled of all-ages comics, picture books and other stories featuring Spider-Man and his pals. Along with offering age-appropriate adventures, some of them are even (gasp!) educational – but don't worry, we won't tell the kids if you don't.
The Amazing Spider-Man (Little Golden Book)
The line of Little Golden Books have been around for ages and helped teach more than a few of today's parents how to read when they were kids themselves. For children who are just starting to show an interest in books but already have an interest in Spider-Man, you can't go wrong with this simple, bedtime-friendly story aimed at kids ages two to five years old.
World of Reading: This Is Spider-Man (Level 1)
For kids who are still learning to read, World of Reading's “Marvel Heroes of Reading” line includes three levels of books that encourage kids to develop their reading skills using stories featuring Spider-Man. The “Level 1” books are aimed at kids five to six years old and feature simple, short sentences and bright illustrations of Spider-Man and his supporting cast of characters.
World of Reading: The Story of Spider-Man (Level 2)
Kids whose reading level is a little higher than the Level 1 book will likely enjoy the next installment of the line, which caters to readers around six to seven years old and tells the story of how Peter Parker became the spectacular Spider-Man.
World of Reading: Becoming Spider-Man (Level 2)
For kids who would appreciate a more obvious link to the The Amazing Spider-Man movie universe, this book aimed at early readers around six to eight years old features a toned-down, child-friendly retelling of the story from the 2012 film. Instead of comic book illustrations, it uses images from the movie, which should prevent little Spider-fans from feeling like they're missing out.
The Amazing Spider-Man Storybook Collection
Disney published this collection of all-ages stories featuring Spider-Man just a few years ago, and it does a nice job of bringing classic Spider-Man adventures down to a more age-appropriate level for young readers. (It's recommended for ages three and up.) It's a pretty thick book at over 300 pages, but it's positively packed with fun stories and impressive art that will keep kids entertained for a long time.
5-Minute Spider-Man Stories
The perfect book for bedtime reading, this hardcover collection includes 12 Spider-Man stories that can each be read aloud in less than five minutes. How's that for efficiency in superhero storytelling?
Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man
This all-ages comic book series retold classic Spider-Man stories with a modern update, and kept the action mild and the humor hilarious for young readers. The 61-issue series is collected in several volumes that would make great gifts for kids who might not be ready for the live-action movie or mainstream Spider-Man comics, but can handle reading stories in the standard paperback format.
Marvel Universe Ultimate Spider-Man (Digital Comic)
For the more tech-savvy kids, Marvel's recently launched digital comic series is not only free (yes, you read that correctly), but it's actually quite good, too. The series is set within the universe of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series on Disney XD, so it's a nice tie-in for any young fans of Spider-Man's cartoon adventures.
And there you go! Next time your little Spider fans ask you about Spider-Man, just bring out one of the books on this list for some web-slinging, wall-crawling adventures you can feel good about sharing with them.
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