Batgirls, Boy Wonders, and Beyond: A Parent’s Saga
Though often thought of as the domain of kids, many comics these days are written and marketed to adults. As I’ve said before on the blog, assuming a genre or medium is automatically kid-friendly or mindless fluff is where many parents go wrong. It’s also how many things that expect a level of maturity of their young readers, or were never intended for young readers to begin with, get banned. Or how you end up like that mom who accidentally bought her son a pornographic pop-up book because she assumed Game of Thrones was like Narnia.
However, it’s not always easy to know what is or isn’t appropriate for your child. The comic book industry does not make it easy on new fans or outsiders attempting to purchase a gift. And somehow the tween demographic, despite being what may come to mind when you picture comic book readers, is the hardest of all to buy for. All-ages or kids’ comics can run the risk of being too simplistic or talking down to their readers. However, just because a kid is too old for Li’l Gotham or even Teen Titans, doesn’t mean they’re prepared for Arkham Asylum. The quest for a comic your child or teen will actually like (and that you’re okay with them liking) gets even harder if the comic book industry’s admittedly questionable and colorful track record with depicting women and minorities is a concern for you.
And, of course, every child is different and every parent has a different idea of what is appropriate. While some parents may seek to avoid violent content, others might love to hand their child Maus, Persepolis, or Magneto: Testament to expose them to important historical events in a more vivid, arresting way than a textbook might offer. Maybe you’d rather stick to graphic novelizations of classic literature. Maybe you want comics used in the classroom or classic graphic novels that got the medium to be taken seriously. Maybe you’re a die-hard DC fan and want your child to read some classic Green Lantern or Green Arrow before seeing their recent screen adaptations. Maybe your kid isn’t into superheroes and you don’t know what else the wide world of comic books and graphic novels has to offer. Maybe you have no idea what a graphic novel is. Whatever the case, I offer these resources to help make your next comic book purchase as a parent a little easier.
Top Graphic Novels Starring Mighty Girls – For those parents out there with daughters, who want to raise all of their children to have a healthy view of 51% of the population, or who just want recommendations for good books, educational resource A Mighty Girl is here to save the day. The great folks over at A Mighty Girl have compiled over 100 graphic novels with awesome girl lead characters. You can also search their collection by age-group and price or check out their top picks.
Using Graphic Novels in Education – For teachers and parents alike, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has this useful feature on some popular graphic novels and how they might be used in the classroom.
Geek Parenting: Comics for your Teen Titans – My friendly neighborhood comic book expert over at Reviews by Lantern’s Light offers his suggestions for the 9-15 crowd, as well as what content parents can expect from each.
Geek Parenting: Comics for your Teen Titans #2 – Back by popular demand, this helpful geekparent feature returns with more suggestions for your nerdlings.
If you’re really stuck or need new recommendations, an actual real live person at your local bookstore or comic book store may be of more help. To locate a comic book store near you, try this handy locator. If there aren’t any nearby, many bookstores have a graphic novel section.