Reading List for Teachers
Other comics with content
Chester the Crab’s series matches many state standards, but teachers interested in finding other non-fiction comic books for their students should look for the following titles at a bookstore, Amazon.com or your local comic book shop (found in the yellow pages under “comic”).
Each comic below has a description and label based on title (period of the book) / color, and / publisher.
Elementary School and Up
1602 (Elizabethan) / color / Marvel Comics
What if the Fantastic Four hit a weird storm in the Atlantic instead of cosmic rays in space? This series of stories is great alternative history, putting Peter Parker, Tony Stark and other characters you recognize into Elizabethan lives.
When Virginia Was the Wild West (1600s) / color / Colonial Williamsburg
This look at the way people lived in early Virginia even has some 3-D pages!
Sons of Liberty (American Revolution) / Marshall Poe / B&W / Aladdin
Sketchy drawings don’t show much historical detail but book is small for small hands.
Epic Battles of the Civil War (Civil War) / color / Historical Souvenir
Wording is stiff and coloring is as flat and silly as a 1950s comic. But these cover a lot.
Graphic Battles of the Civil War / (Civil War) / color / Rosen Book Works
Too wordy, but these books do have good historical detail for any Civil War buffs.
Explore Black History with Wee Pals / Morrie Turner / B&W / Just Us Books
Dr. Seuss Goes to War (World War II) / Richard Minear / New Press
See if you can find Horton the elephant or Yertle the Turtle in his newspaper cartoons.
Time Warp Trio graphic novels / Jon Scieszka / color / Harper Trophy
These comix just take images from the TV cartoon of the Trio. Simple but fun.
Middle School and Up
Cartoon History of the Universe (natural science) / Larry Gonick / B&W / Harper Perennial
Gonick’s books have underground style and humor and cover a lot of ground quickly.
Horrible Histories / Terry Deary / B&W / Scholastic
More chapter books than a comic, but comic illustrations get the history to the funny bone
Journey into Mohawk Country (1600s NY) / George O’Connor / color / First Second Books
Fun! MAJOR POINTS for using the real words of a journal written by Dutch trader in 1634!!
Four Immigrants Manga (Victorian era) / Henry Kiyama / B&W / Stone Bridge Press
Not a modern manga but a historic document of drawings by a real immigrant to U.S.
9-11, vol. 1 and vol. 2 (2001) / Various / DC Comics
Many 1- or 2-page essays by cartoonists about the terrorist attacks. Moving and solemn.
Cartoon History of the U.S. / Larry Gonick / B&W / Harper Perennial
You get one panel on Boston Tea Party or Texas founding, but there is good humor.
High School and Up
The Jew of New York (early 1800s NY) / Ben Katchor / B&W / Pantheon Books
An offbeat look at an offbeat – and often forgotten – period of American history.
Berlin (Germany in 1920s, 30s) / Jason Lutes / B&W / Black Eye Productions
Some nudity but a gripping, educational look at German society between the world wars.
Maus (Holocaust and survivor’s guilt) / Art Spiegelman / B&W
A comic so powerful it was given its own Pulitzer Prize. Provocative.
Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow / James Sturm / B&W / Hyperion
Cartoons are drawn very simply, but they convey action and athleticism well. A man is shown hanging, but the B&W style keeps graphic imagery to a minimum for the topic.
Enemy Ace (World War I/Vietnam) / George Pratt / color / DC Comics
Fully painted look at war, for those who like the movies “Apocalypse Now” or “Platoon.”
Last Day in Vietnam (Vietnam) / Will Eisner / B&W / Dark Horse Comics
Accessible first-person account of military scenes by one of the giants of comic history.
KING (Civil Rights movement) / Ho Che Anderson / B&W / Fantagraphic Books
Graphic scenes of MLK’s life based on the latest research and debates on his life.
Ronald Reagan: A Graphic Biography / Andrew Helfer / B&W / Hill and Wang
Very wordy, and the very cartoonist drawing of Reagan doesn’t look much like him.
Persepolis (Iranian Revolution) / Marjane Satrapi / B&W / Pantheon
Political, personal, and vital. Some drug use shown, but a great coming-of-age story.
Fax from Sarajevo (1990s Balkans conflict) / Joe Kubert / color / Dark Horse Comics
Great mix of cartoons and real faxes to a family caught by sniper fire in this conflict.
Notes for a War Story (1990s Balkans conflict) / Gipi / color / First Second Books
A Lord of the Flies story about teens fumbling their way into a European war zone.
9/11 Report (2001) / Sid Jacobson / color / Hill and Wang
A great way to understand what happened before and during the terrorist attacks.
Pyongyang (North Korea) / Guy Delisle / B&W / Drawn & Quarterly
Subtle and funny look behind one of the world’s last iron curtains of Communism. (Read more thoughts)
Latino USA (Hispanic-American history) / Lalo Alcaraz / B&W / Basic Books
Lalo’s energetic art mirrors popular Mexican cartoons. A challenging viewpoint.
Still I Rise (African-American history) / Roland Laird Jr. / B&W / Norton
Drawings are sloppy and simple, and there is some graphic violence shown.
U.S. (alternative US history) / Alex Ross / color / Vertigo Comics
Great thought-provoking look at history left out of the textbooks.