I thought I wrote this piece a few years ago. I realized that literacy and comic books are topics that I discuss at least twice a day as a parent, sometime educator, and mentor. I talk about it so much, I believed that I must have written about it at some point. Every week, a teacher or parent asks me how to get children to read. Comic books is my first answer. Reading comic books are a great and easy way to get a child to read. Ask any librarian in the United States and they can recommend several comic books and graphic novels.
I have to point out that comic books are expensive. Even digital comics can put a huge dent in any one's budget. Most comic shops have dollar bins where they sell back issues for $1. I give away comic books to children I teach and mentor so dollar bins are a blessing. So for you educators, finding a dollar bin will help you tremendously.
Below are some comics I highly recommend to parents, educators, coaches, mentors, and other people who work with children:
Note: I am a Marvel head. So the small list is strictly Marvel. Both DC and Marvel publish children friendly versions of their flagship titles such as the Avengers, Justice League, Captain America, Batman, etc. I let some children and my own read them and they weren't too excited about them. The ones listed below are fast hits. Also, I don't read Manga and I know many teenagers who are into them. My list does not have any Manga either.
- Ultimate Comics Spider Man – This series has ended and the story of the Afro Latino web slinger continues in Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider Man and the All New Ultimates where Morales is now the leader of. The thing is if you just jump into the latter two series you will be confused. Ultimate Comics Spider Man written by Brian Michael Bendis can be found on trade paper back (TPB) now. You might still be able to find some old copies in the dollar bins.
That being said, this is was an amazing run by Bendis with Sara Pichelli on the breakdowns. Bendis deals with race, class, and school inequities. It is a serious book that deals with middle schoolers. All of the children I gave these issues to never complained about the adult themes. At the same time Miles Morales seemed to have a good time being Spider Man right up until the end of the run where he realized he had to step up to the plate as a leader. (See also the Spider Men story where Miles Morales meets Peter Parker of Earth 616)
- Ms. Marvel
This is another series I enjoy. Written by G. Willow Wilson and penciled by Adrian Alphona, it is about Kamala Khan, a Pakistani teenager who lives in New Jersey. Her parents are liberal. That part is my favorite but Khan is a teenage girl and it comes with so much baggage. As a parent of a teenager, I can only imagine what her parents go through. Add to the idea that she gains super powers during the events of the Inhumanity crossover after the Infinity situation where Thanos invaded Earth.
The best part of the story is that everyone thinks that the blonde haired Avenger named Captain Marvel is fighting crime in their small NJ town when in actuality its Khan. No matter what she does, she doesn't get the props she deserves. Yup, its a true teenage story.
- NovaDan Abnett breathed new life into Nova aka Richard Rider. Before Abnett, I got tired of Nova. Abnett did his thing with this character. When we thought he was killed off, I was not happy. When I heard there was going to be a new character taking up the Nova mantle, I wasn't too happy. It took me a minute to cop issue #1. I was very satisfied.
Sam has taken the mantle that was previously held by his father, Jesse Alexander, who he assumed was a crazed drunk. Once he wears the Nova helmet, he goes on some huge adventures. Its the stuff of dreams. I forget that Sam is only 15. Really none of the characters discussed in this post are over that age.
Again, I am a Marvel head and these are the titles that speak to me and the children I mentor and teach. I hope this list helps anyone out. Feel free to suggest any other ones in the comments section.