Comic books have a long history of teaching social issues. Yet, they often come under fire at schools and with parents because some are intended for more mature audiences due to their graphic content and sexualized themes.
Don’t let a few series ruin an entire genre. If you’ve shied away from introducing your child to comic books, now is the time for a proper introduction. Comics are true representations of life. The diversity of characters, the way they tackle current issues, and how they serve as a time capsule are all reasons to add this genre to your child’s library.
To get started, these comic books will teach your kids important life lessons:
by Eleanor Davis
“Stinky” is a fun beginner’s comic book meant for emerging readers. Stinky the monster loves his home in the smelly swamp, where he lives with his pet toad, Wartbelly, and countless other creatures including the devious possums and slimy slugs. One day a little boy from a nearby town wanders into the area. Stinky is afraid because humans are so different. They like to take baths and eat apples and candy, while he loves splashing in the mud and eating sour pickles. Then he discovers the boy loves toads, too. Can he overcome his fear and make a new friend? “The engaging plot shows young readers that it’s possible to make friends with those who may seem very different from themselves,” says School Library Journal.
by Amy Reeder
Finding a place to belong in the face of change can be scary and overwhelming. Preteen genius, Lunella Lafayette’s world changes in the blink of an eye when a red-scaled beast is teleported from the prehistoric past. But they quickly become best friends and team up to form Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur – she with inhuman genes lingering inside and him with the might of a great lizard. Now, it’s time for them to take on the other “things” that also traveled through time, while navigating tremendous changes.
by Gene Luen Yang
“American Born Chinese” tells three stories that weave together at the end. One features Monkey Dragon, an animal from Chinese folklore. Another follows Chin-Kee, who has just arrived from China to visit his cousin Danny. He is a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype and makes Danny’s life difficult. The final story is about Jim Wang, who moves with his family to a new neighborhood. Soon after, he realizes he is the only Chinese-American student at his new school. To some extent, each character must navigate racial indifferences and a need to fit in.
by Kate Leth
Patsy Walker is a feminist superhero who has confronted extreme dangers and conniving villains. Yet, none compare to job hunting in New York City! As she struggles to find work and figure out what she wants to do in life, she also learns that throwing punches is not always the best way to solve problems. The story addresses living in the real world, while trying to make ends meet and achieving your dreams.
by Stan Lee
It doesn’t matter which adjective is used to describe this web slinger – Amazing, Ultimate, Spectacular – Spider-Man, also known as Peter Parker, is one of the most influential and motivational characters in the comics universe. He’s real, has suffered significant losses, yet always finds a way to push on. His signature message, “With great power comes great responsibility,” teaches children that they are responsible for their actions – much in the same way Peter must use his super powers wisely.
by Jody Houser
Orphaned when she was little, Faith Herbert, a gifted “psiot,” has always aspired to greatness despite her struggles. “Faith” is one of the newer comics that follows the adventures of a strong female super hero who doesn’t have the typical superhero body. A body positive message flows through every page, as readers learn self-acceptance and that the heart is always bigger than anything else. “This is a modern twist on the classic superhero tale. Faith doesn’t have the typical superheroine body type, dismantling stereotypes about what it means to be superpowered,” says “School Library Journal.
by G. Wilson
Ms. Marvel can make herself bigger, smaller, and sometimes change her appearance. If only she could disappear. As a Pakistani-American and Muslim, she often reflects on her culture, religion, and family life, while navigating the harshness and cruelty of the human world. Despite the darkness, she rises above with great strength and optimism. The message is that good isn’t a thing you are, it’s a thing you do.
Which comic books with important messages have you read with your kids? Share in the comments!