As a long-term comic head, I have become enamored of every type of comic book. I have horror, Classics Illustrated, science fiction, traditional superhero, and tons of international comics in more long boxes than I can count. The one comic lane I could never get in to: educational comics. I love the old Civil Rights, How Toons, and history comic books. What I could not stand were the ‘this is how the digestive tract works’ or ‘let’s wind our way through the eyeball’ offerings. This would seem to be in direct opposition of my cheerleading the use of comics in educational settings. Hey, I’m complex. As a parent, my dislike has curdled to disdain.
Attempting to find comics for my daughter, comics that represent her more than just gender (and don’t discount her intelligence) is a nearly impossible task. A black girl or an AAPI girl or a Latina girl or a bi-racial girl starring in an age appropriate comic… hmmm… Princeless… Goldie Vance… Araña… and a host of ‘We are the World’ diversity projects. We go to the shop every Wednesday, and I have the same complaints week after week.
An aside: Let me say this again: Diversity is not a thing. It is an is. It is there, just like climate. It isn’t about making quotas, but about showing the world the way it truly is. If you have humans in your stories, they should be diverse, unless you’re writing about a monoracial culture.
While I still have these same complaints, I’ve discovered a company that has impressed me as a fan of comics, but especially as a parent of a multi-racial daughter who is smart, hyper-literate, hungry for knowledge, and becoming just a much a comics fan as her old man.
Know Yourself is doing it right. They are doing it oh so right. And guess what? They are an educational media company. I have fallen in love with educational comics. Well, this iteration of educational comics.
I discovered them at an art pop up. There was a table littered with stickers and postcards and on these girls of color; Pinky and Shorty Lemonade. And they were skaters. Skater girls of color in a comic book, Time Skaters, who pass the Bechdel test with flying colors? I’ll take one of each, please. If this wasn’t cool enough, there is Mr. Bonyfide.
A skeleton that teaches you about the body (there is a series of books that cover all 206 bones in the human body). As an educator, I was immensely impressed by how the lessons are arranged and the pedagogical frame through which the lessons are delivered: Self Literacy.
At first glance, self-literacy sounds like something a newly-minted M.Ed. would attempt to teach their students. But the folks at Know Yourself approach this concept in a way that isn’t pretentious. I’ll let them explain it, as they can do it better than I can.
Peep their approach here.
Along with comics and workbooks, they have subscription boxes that will keep your kids (and you) occupied. My daughter received the ancient Greece box… admittedly I was hesitant. Was this going to be some Rick Riordan stuff? Nope. The lessons and activities in the box were well thought out and of stellar quality. The best thing is that you can make the box last for a while. There are enough activities to have a good run. It has been raining where I am, and we were able to make the box a great rainy day companion. Coupled with liberal use of Google, my daughter has a very decent working knowledge of ancient Greece.
I’ve done extensive research on the company, and I have one minor quibble: Diversity is on the page, as well as holding the pen. This is easily remedied. I’d love to see, say, Tanna Tucker tackle a Know Yourself property.
I cannot promote this enough. Any kid, any race, any gender, Know Yourself is right for them.
They’ve made a fan out of me.
4.5/5 High Marks!