May 30, 2023
Even as a child, I loved reading about history. However, I was an outlier among my peers. Unfortunately, history as a subject is something that young people often find hard to relate to. Of course, the emphasis in school on dry information like dates and places might be partly to blame. The fact that history books can be very boring if not written in an engaging way also doesn’t help.
The Summer Library Program has once again come upon us. Sadly, when children are looking for books to read during the next couple of months, there probably won’t be many searching for a story set in the past. After all, school is out and who wants to feel like they are still learning? But what if there was a way to get kids excited about reading a history book?
This is where historical graphic novels come into play. While a dull recitation of places and people may not delight children, a story told through vibrant pictures might just do the trick. Nowadays, there are many graphic novels that tell true tales set in the past, and these can be perfect to introduce children to how exciting the subject of history can be.
Below are some great choices to put in front of a reluctant history reader this summer:
- Flying Machine: How the Wright Brothers Soared by Benjamin A. Wilgus and Molly Brooks chronicles the story of the Wright Brothers and the competition to be the first to fly a machine-powered craft.
- Black Heroes of the Wild West by James Otis Smith features untold stories of Black Americans who were written out of the history of the Old West, such as Bass Reeves, whom many believe the Lone Ranger character was based on.
- The History of Western Art in Comics by Marion Augustin is a colorful and entertaining trip through the story of Western Art, from primitive cave paintings to Picasso masterworks.
- The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and the Fight for Workers’ Rights by Julie Gilbert – This tells the story of the tragic fire that killed 146 workers and how it impacted workers’ rights.
- Shackleton and the Lost Antarctic Expedition by B. A. Hoena – The true adventure on the famous explorer’s doomed expedition to the southernmost part of the planet
- Lost in the Amazon: Juliane Koepcke’s Story by Betsy Rathburn – The amazing story of a girl who fell 10,000 feet from an airplane without a parachute and survived
- Video Games: A Graphic History by Sean Tulien – We all play them, but how did they come to be? Perfect for any child with a passion for gaming
As you can see in the above examples, graphic novels cover all different types of events from the past. And doing so through pictures and exciting illustrations might just be the spark a child needs to become a true lover of history.
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