As a parent trying to ensure my child has an understanding of how her actions affect the world around her, it’s always helpful to have examples to make an abstract concept more concrete. If those examples can include things she finds relevant or interesting, then it’s even better.
Fortunately, Minnesota publisher Capstone has recently released a series of books aimed at young children that use DC Comics characters to illustrate positive character traits. The books are wonderfully illustrated by Otis Frampton, a local comic artist who has been previously featured on Twin Cities Geek.
In each installment of this six-book series, a different superhero shows how they exemplify a specific trait with their actions: Batman shows trustworthiness, Green Lantern (John Stewart) shows responsibility, Superman shows good citizenship, Aquaman shows fairness, the Flash shows being caring, and Wonder Woman shows respectfulness. At the end of each book, the featured superhero sums up the various examples to help drive home the point.
As the books are aimed at a kindergarten to second-grade audience, the writing is intentionally simplistic but still able to hold the attention of the intended age range. My six-year-old was able to easily read the books to herself and a similarly aged friend, both of them happily either reading or listening to the same book multiple times over the course of a weekend. Kids in this age range tend to like their superheroes on the lighter side of the spectrum, and Aquaman feeding sea turtles or Flash handing out umbrellas to picnickers is about as light as it gets.
Both kids really enjoyed the books, with their favorite parts being seeing the superheroes in action. My tiny Wonder Woman fan was thrilled to see that Wonder Woman had her own book. As a parent, my main quibble is that I wish there had been greater representation within the chosen superheroes, but at the same time, I do realize it makes a certain amount of sense to go with the best-known characters.
While adults will likely find less enjoyment than kids in the repetitive narrative of the books, the bright visual narrative for each concept will make up for it. My personal favorite moment in the series is an illustration in the Batman book. The story mentions that “Alfred trusts Batman to always tell the truth,” and the matching illustration features Batman confessing to Alfred that he spilled a cup of coffee on his computer keyboard while Alfred listens on with a complete lack of surprise, a new keyboard already at the ready. It’s fairly obvious this is a regular occurrence in the Batcave.
There are a few other moments that may provide amusement for the older reader, such as playing “name that hero” or “name that villain” in the illustrations of the various books. If you end up stumped, the summary at the back of the book often gives the answer.
The six books available in this series are written by Christopher Harbo, illustrated by Otis Frampton, and Published by Capstone. Each book has 24 pages and a list price of $4.95.