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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.
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!).
<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.
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.
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.
<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.
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!