After some extensive and very fun research, I’ve compiled a list of generic, non-commercial character books that subtly address the topic of superheroes where the main character saves the day or uses his or her imagination to create an alter ego. These books are powerful in the sense the reader is able to internalize the idea that helping others and being confident and brave can make you, yourself, a superhero. These books are important in the social and emotional development of young boys and girls as they are developing their sense of self, experimenting with emotions and beginning to form and build relationships with people outside of their family.
The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy is a fun and sweet story about brothers and some fun imaginative superhero adventures. Bumbleebee Boy has a fun tag line of “Bum ba bum bumm” that everyone in our house has started spouting out at random times during the day. This story hit close to home as we have two boys and the younger one just wants to be a part of his big brother’s play all the time. After declaring a number of times that he wants to save the day by himself, Bumblebee boy comes to realize by that he could use the help of his brother and that working together will get the job done.
Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue is a sweet and beautifully illustrated story of a misplaced polar bear who needs to find his way home to his family. Red Knit Cap Girl finds the polar bear, feels compassion for him and without pause figures out how to help him get back to his family. They embark on their journey and are faced with challenges but eventually they arrive in the North and the polar bear is reunited with his mama.
Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom is a funny but poignant book where the main character and his friends think that their long hair gives them superpowers. After they are all whisked away to the barber they feel deflated and powerless until they come across someone who needs help. They realize that their powers to help others are still there, even with short hair.
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man is a thrilling tale of a superhero that is saving the day from Professor Von Evil. The story takes an interesting turn when Awesome Man becomes angry that he has failed to capture the professor. He acknowledges his feelings of anger and decides that in order to control himself he needs to take a break. Awesome man has some great strategies for dealing with his emotions including laying in his bed, in the quiet and taking deep breaths. He also gets himself into a “ginormous Awesome Power Grip” that calms him down. The social emotional and sensory components are subtle but powerful.
Ladybug Girl is a simple story about a confident and strong little girl who is left to keep herself busy and entertained. Her bravery, ingenuity and independence are seen as she faces fears, conquers challenges and even builds herself up after being discouraged by her older brother.
Princess Super Kitty is a super cute book about a little girl who adds layer upon layer to her powerful dress up wardrobe throughout the day. It’s nice to see a confident young female character who can be both a princess and superhero at the same time.
Mighty Max was an interesting book, we didn’t love this one but I wanted to explain the reasoning. The little boy is brave and courageous but his father is constantly telling him to get down, be safe, sit still, etc… My Oldest questioned the father’s words from the very first page. “Why is he telling him that? That’s not nice, he just pretending to fly.” It seemed he felt that the father was stifling the little boys imagination. While Max always listened to his father initially, it never stopped him from attempting another creative play scenario. They finally ended up at the beach and it seemed that Max enjoyed his day despite his father’s helicopter parenting style.
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