Literacy Through Comics

We’re big comic book fans at our household, so naturally, my son reaps the reward of our large comic book collection. He’s read all the classics–The Peanuts, Calvin And Hobbes, Donald Duck and more, but you don’t need me to tell you about the brilliance of Charles Schulz and The Peanuts. Instead, here are some newer titles my son and I discovered together!
Owly by Andy Runton
Owly is a sweet comic about a little owl. With only a tiny amount of text, even early readers can enjoy this comic. Owly is a friend to all living things. He helps lost animals find their way home. He gardens and welcomes hummingbirds to his tree every spring. The fourth book, Time To Be Brave, helped my son not be afraid of the dark when he woke up in the middle of the night. Owly‘s stories are comforting and heartwarming. Creator Andy Runton’s gentle, nurturing worldview shine through his art and storytelling.
In addition to the books, you can download free PDF stories of Owly from Andy Runton’s site:
Amulet by Kazuo Kibuishi
Amulet transports you to another world and takes you on a swashbuckling fantasy adventure. There is magic, talking robots and animals, mythical creatures, and trouble is brewing. If you love Harry Potter and Miyazaki films like Castle In The Sky and Spirited Away, give this series a try.
Our hero is Emily, who suffers a tragic loss as the story opens. This tragedy turns her life upside down–especially after she comes in possession her grandfather’s magical amulet. The amulet triggers a chain of events that traps in Emily, her younger brother Navin and their mother Karen in a different world. Emily must learn to harness the power of the amulet to become a stonekeeper.
The series is ongoing. I can’t wait to see where Emily will end up!
Bone by Jeff Smith
Bone is a classic. Don’t let the cute creature on the cover fool you–this is an epic fantasy. Think Lord of The Rings.
Exiled from Boneville, three cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bones are separated during their getaway. Fone Bone is nearly killed by two rat monsters. A mysterious dragon steps in to save him, then disappears. After the winter, the cousins reunite and meet a girl, Thorn, who lives in a forest with her burly, cow-racing grandmother. Besides Fone Bone, Thorn seems to be the only person who can see the dragon that saved him. The rat monsters are planning a war, with dark powers compelling them. When war breaks out, Thorn discovers she and her grandmother aren’t what they’ve been pretending to be…
Like Lord of The Rings, the story takes a dark turn in the middle, but never loses its sense of humor. Also, both Amulet and Bone feature strong female characters that break convention. Highly recommended!
Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks
Learn all about the human body with this comic! The information is presented a show-and-tell style by a skeleton who hams it up for your entertainment. It covers the entire body–opening with a short introduction to cells, then the skeleton, muscle, various internal organs, and other subjects like how the immune system works. Yes, that’s a ton of information to cover, but the book’s chapters are well organized, and its cute, stylized art keeps the book from becoming gory or boring.
Note: this book discusses reproductive organs and what happens during puberty. There is no mention of sex.
World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky and Frank Stockton
Here’s another one for nonfiction lovers. We picked this one up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
As the title suggests, it’s about our oceans in trouble. It goes into detail about overfishing, pollution, climate change, and how to help. This book is a mix of beautifully designed text and comics.
Have a wonderful summer full of great books! Feel free to share your favorite comics to read with kids in the comment section.
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