Friday, February 1, 2013

A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics: A Review

 Every time I clean up the junk that accumulates around my computer desk I find a good book that I meant to review ages ago.  This time around I have uncovered A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics, “Choosing titles your children will love”.

The reason I started this website in the first place seven years ago was that comics (under the name Graphic Novels) were gaining a fair bit of respectability in education but there was little information to guide adults who had never picked up a comic before.  There was a growing list of titles to choose from but few voices giving their opinion on what was appropriate or quality.  Soon after I started Comics in the Classroom a number of comic sites popped up which centered on comics for kids, which was a great help for parents, teachers and librarians (not to mention those who are trying to make a living at making comics for kids).  Lots of people had the same good idea at the same time.

I say all that to say this, Scott Robins (a former kids' comics blogger from way back) and Snow Wildsmith have recently published a guide to comics that makes the choosing of titles easier than ever.  They have reviewed 100 of the best in-print comics available for young readers from pre-K through Grade 8 (plus a list of 750 titles at the end of the book).  The sections (Pre-K-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-8) are colour coded by grade level, there are “Educational Tie-Ins” and “Heads Up” sections in each entry.  I like that Robins and Wildsmith recognized that pointing out any questionable parts of the book was important.  Some adults want all comics to be sanitized and others figure that all comics are fine even when they are not (comics=kids).  Here is a Heads Up example: “Explores the concept of death through metaphor”, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs.

My first reaction when I went through the book was “Hey, I wouldn’t have put that comic in that grade level section!” (or something to that effect), but that doesn’t diminish the book at all.  For one thing, the book does usually err on the side of caution. Bone is in the grade 6-8 section, and although I have books 1-3 in my own grade 4 classroom there is smoking and minor use of alcohol, and, as the series goes on the tone gets darker and may be too much for some readers (sort of like how the Harry Potter books start out sort of light and get darker and darker as the series reaches the end).  Also, If I wanted to complain about where some of the books are places I should keep it too myself and write my own book.

A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics is a good resource for librarians, comic shops and parents.  It is attractive, well organized and on sale now. 

 ·        Paperback: 256 pages
·         Publisher: Krause Publications (May 31, 2012)
·         ISBN-10: 1440229945
·         ISBN-13: 978-1440229947
·         $16.99 (us), $17.99 (can)

-Scott Tingley

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