As students return to school amidst a resurgent pandemic and varied approaches to public health and safety, it is both more challenging and important than ever for educators to be as mindful of their mental health needs as their educational needs. Forging authentic connections at the beginning of the school year is difficult even in the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Stories are a great way to build connections and develop empathy, and comics offer a diverse variety to choose from, for every age level and interest.
At their best, the people we meet and places we visit in comics can help young readers develop empathy for themselves and others by providing immersive perspectives of relatable experiences, or introducing them to new perspectives. To help facilitate connections with your students, we’ve developed new programming packages for Mental Health Matters, featuring resources and specific title recommendations for every Comics Plus package and age tier.
- Teaching Suggestions
- Publisher Teaching Guides
- Bingo Activity
- Book Club Resources
- Book Report Template
- Reading Challenge
- Marketing Resources
Fostering Connections with Comics
Our Graphic Medicine for Fostering Connections mini-list was curated to be a handy and impactful teaching tool that aligns with our Mental Health Matters programming packages. It features a mix of titles perfect for leisure reading and curricular alignment, presenting difficult topics in accessible stories for students to engage with, enjoy, and realize they are not alone. It also overlaps with our featured Graphic Medicine and All the Feels lists, which offer a wider range of related titles for further reading.
Description: What does it mean to be anxious? It’s an emotion everyone has. Children will learn how to recognize when they are feeling anxious and examples of good ways to manage their emotion. A mindfulness activity will give kids the opportunity to practice managing their feelings.
Read It: This nonfiction book is perfect for early readers thanks to its use of large print and simple words, plus a glossary for learning new words. Young readers will get a definition of anxiety, along with how it feels to experience it, both physically and mentally. It also includes explanations of the body’s response to anxiety, and helpful tips for talking about it with grown-ups. Similar to picture books, readers will relate to the photographs of real children experiencing emotions, and offering clear examples of concepts that support the text.
Teach it: A mindfulness activity is included which could easily be incorporated as-is by educators or parents.
Description: Tells the story of Jonas Salk’s involvement in the development of a polio vaccine. Written in graphic-novel format.
Read it: In the history of modern education, it has probably never been more important to educate students (and their parents) about the history and importance of vaccines. Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine is a straightforward read that will demystify how vaccines are actually developed, tested and distributed, while also showing how the polio vaccine enabled society to eventually return to normal. The unexpectedly timely story is brought even closer to home for readers as it offers the perspective of a child getting the vaccine.
Teach it: Back matter includes a timeline of the story’s events, a glossary, and many resources to guide further reading. These also provide good starting points for young readers to learn about researching important topics and evaluating their sources.
Description:Stories about Marie Curie, Emmy Noether, Lise Meitner, Rosalind Franklin, Barbara McClintock, Birute Galdikas, and Hedy Lamarr. Yes, that Hedy Lamarr.
Read it: Dignifying Science is a collection of biographies spotlighting seven female scientists teen readers may have heard of but not know much about. Each one made significant contributions to the scientific community and readers will learn about them via inspiring, humanizing portrayals.
Teach it: Extensive back matter includes notes and references about each scientist, making it a prime starting point for a book report or more in-depth research on any of them.
Read it: Filled with short stories and touching poetry about parenthood, Another Chance to Get It Right first debuted on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1993, and this updated version includes previously unpublished stories. It’s not a traditional graphic novel, but it is beautifully and sparsely illustrated throughout, ideal for older readers who think they don’t like comics.
Teach it: An exemplary title for any English literature course, and it offers much to discuss for a book club or community read. The clean black and white illustrations can also be utilized for art and coloring activities.
Read it: Sex can be a complex and difficult topic in the best of circumstances, and conversations around it in modern culture are shifting every day. Stuff About Sex is about more than just sex, it also focuses on health and hygiene for young men (as it relates to dating, of course). Black and white illustrations are slightly difficult to decipher among the text-dense pages, but it works somewhat like being inside a teenager’s brain. This is graphic medicine at its best: accessible, readable, and highly educational.
Teach it: The book itself is educational, and if delicate topics are too controversial for book clubs or community reads, it can stand on its own as an invaluable resource for mature young adults.
NOTE: This title is only available in our All-Access for Public Libraries collection.
Engage, Excite, Circulate!
With Comics Plus, students and library patrons can have access to thousands of age-appropriate digital comics, graphic novels, and manga. Learn more at comicsplusapp.com and sign for a free demo account.