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Religion and spirituality are usually two incredibly complex ideas, and much of the literature explaining various beliefs goes way over the head of kids and teens. I mean, seriously, it goes way over my head most of the time, and I’m twenty-five. One solution to this? Religious graphic novels!
Whether you are a devout service attendee or simply a follower of The Force (in which case Lucas has got ya covered), there may be something interesting in here for you. If anything, I was fascinated by the sheer wealth of illustrated novels about religions that exists.
The Story of the Jews : A 4,000-Year Adventure
Summary: This book is exactly what it sounds like: a fast-paced introduction to 4,000 years of Judaism, and it’s awesome. Author Stan Mack pays special attention to the women of the Torah, including those who aren’t usually mentioned, like Queen Alexandra. The book is sometimes compared to Larry Gonick’s comic series, but Mack’s book is much more fact-based and historically accurate. Sidenote — any political parents looking for a stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict will need to move along, as Mack barely delves into the issue.
Target ages: 9 and up. I’m sure there are plenty of precocious young ones who would love this book, so that judgement call is ultimately up to you. I’m also positive that many adults would dig on it (I did!).
Buddha, Volume 1: Kapilavastu
<img src="http://offbeathome.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/buddha1-200×200.jpg" alt="" title="buddha" width="200" height="200" class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-9710" /
Summary: Kapilavastu is part of the eight volume Buddha series by author and illustrator Osamu Tezuka. The first installment both follows the birth and life of Siddhartha and also introduces readers to various characters. Some of these are historically accurate, but others were simply invented for the purpose of the series.
We both agree that we want our children to be able to choose what works for them as far as a religion and beliefs go...... Read more
See also: Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters, Devadatta (Buddha, Vol. 3), Buddha, Volume 4: The Forest of Uruvela (Buddha), Buddha, Volume 5: Deer Park (Buddha), Buddha: Volume 6: Ananda, Buddha: Volume 7: Prince Ajatasattu, Buddha: Volume 8: Jetavana
Target age: 8 and up.
Hudhayfa Learns About Allah
Summary: Muslims frown upon depicting prophets, but there are a few books that can give insight into the religion of Islam. Since it’s the fastest growing religion in the WORLD, I’d say it’s one to be mindful of. Hudhayfa Learns About Allah is a sweet little illustrated number (read: not a graphic novel), that teaches children basic Islamic lessons.
See also: While not directly about Islam, Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return (you can also get The Complete Persepolis.) are beautiful coming-of-age portrayals of the life of a girl’s life under the Islamic Revolution. The books were also turned into a film.
Target age: Hudhayfa — birth-5, Persepolis I & II — 9 and up.
The Manga Bible: From Genesis to Revelation
<img src="http://offbeathome.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/manga-bible-200×289.jpg" alt="" title="manga-bible" width="200" height="289" class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-9734" /
Author Siku was actually an artist for Judge Dredd, which was on blood-filled comic book, so it might be a little surprising that he also illustrated The Manga Bible. The book doesn’t cover every single little story, which means it leaves out a bit, so if you’re looking for word-for-word interpretation of the Bible, you might just want to … get your kids a new Bible.
See also: Manga Jesus: v. 1 and Manga Jesus: v. 2 — both are re-tellings of the life of Jesus by Siku.
Target age: 10 and up (question mark). Like the real thing, there’s plenty of violence in here.
This list is by NO means comprehensive or complete — I know there are plenty of religions, not to mention spiritual beliefs, that I didn’t even begin to touch on, and finding a graphic novel about atheism was a challenge. I’d love to know what kind of offbeat lit you guys are using to explain faith (or the lack thereof) to your kids!
Comments on Graphic novels about religion and spirituality for kids
I’m not religious, but even still I think that these would be a cool thing to have in the home so kids could learn about different points of view
I definitely agree! We have The Story of the Jews, and I’m planning on getting the rest soonish. I especially am interested in the Buddha series!
Definitely agree! Even though I am now Buddhist, I was raised Christian and had always hoped to let my kids decide for themselves the way I eventually did.
This is a great way to introduce religion to kids, but also lets them decide on their own.
Great list! My only word of caution is that the two Persepolis books (two of my favorite books) are so not for 9 (10 or 11) year olds. There are sex and drugs references and illustrations that I, personally, wouldn’t be comfortable with my nine year reading/looking at. But definitely recommended for 12 and up. (Totally just my opinion here- they are graphic novels so give them a look first and make your own parenting decisions of course – looking back I didn’t mean to sound snooty)
Yeah, I was thinking… if the books are anything like the film, maybe not super kid-appropriate! (Amazing film, though. I need to pick up the novels!)
This is pretty much the awesomest list ever. My husband and I are agnostic/atheist, but I’d definitely want to expose and educate my kid to all religions. Rock on 🙂
Love this! As an Interfaith minister, it’s so important to me that kids know enough about the stories and principles that they can make their own decisions about what’s really important. Love this!!
Thanks for this list; I will definitely check some of these out! If you ever find that illusive atheist graphic novel (or children’s book), be sure to let us know, because that would be an insta-buy for me.
In our atheistic/agnostic household, we plan to introduce our children to the worlds’ religions, both current and no longer practiced, as a series of interrelated mythologies. I think the graphic novel approach helps to contextualize religious myths as interesting and valuable stories, without necessarily lending them the weight of factual tales to be literally believed.
I am a huge fan of “Big Mama Makes the World” it is a mixing pot of different creation stories suitable for any age any beautifully illustrated.
One of my favorite bloggers, Barry Deutsch, just published a graphic novel called “Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword” which is about a troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl. I haven’t read it, but I hear that it’s pretty awesome. The purpose isn’t to teach about religion, I don’t think, but rather to tell a story set in a religious culture that’s not typically represented in fantasy.
I am 28 now, but when I was 8-12 years old, my parents attended Vedanta services (sort of a new age eastern-western form of Hinduism). I would sit through services reading Babysitters’ Club Books, but afterward, we would go to the gift shop and i would buy graphic novels about Hindu lore. These were really entertaining. The artwork was really cool, and it was more interesting to me than the lectures by the monks.