When my son was four he was obsessed with superheroes. If you dig through our archives from May through September 2011 you will see he is almost always in a Batman tee-shirt. This was more than just a little love of a hero it was about strength and security. We were selling our house, moving to a new one , and in his life there were a lot of changes. Kids aren’t impervious to big life changes even if they are resilient. That tee-shirt was his security along with this shield and a sword fashioned from a broken toy. This is why I LOVE books about superheroes, they help our children tap into their inner strength, feel invincible, and eventually face and work through their fears.
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Super Duck (Duck in the Truck) by Jez Albourough was ok, I liked it but my little man didn’t. The book is part of a series and we haven’t read the other books, we grabbed this one because of the superhero theme and Super Duck was only kinda super . I liked the rhyming text because it flowed well, the rhymes were never forced but it was just too young for my son who was 4.5 when we reviewed it. He didn’t find Duck funny, but I am sure other kids would. It’s a fun silly book, just don’t grab it for a kid who is expecting body armor, x-ray vision, and golden lassos.
Supersister by Beth Cedena wasn’t full of x-ray vision or super powers either but my son adored it. Kids are unpredictable. This story though is sweet and also has a little but of mystery to it , which upon reflection could be one reason why my son liked it so much. Supersister is a little girl who is brave and helpful demonstrated by how she lovingly ties her moms shoes for her before zooming off to school. Okay so I preach about pre-reading books, but rarely do it and reading this I was so worried the mom was going to be in hospital bed and that’s why she needs her daughter to tie her shoes. I lean towards the dramatic so I doubt you’d even be thinking that and my son didn’t either. No nothing tragic has happened to mom , she is just very very pregnant. Supersister is practicing her role as a caregiver and older sister! My son loved that since he takes his still fairly new role of big brother very seriously. Cute book for new siblings especially!
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon is a fun book with a little secret twist to keep readers engaged. I won’t ruin the twist but I will say that if you read this book you MUST read it with a silly announcer voice, it makes it so much more fun. In the book Awesome Man and Moskowitz the Awesome Dog fight off over the top villains and save the day more than once in this witty and surprisingly lengthy book. My children liked the book and it’s funny tone. It is not a scary superhero book at all and I love the vocabulary used throughout. The retro feel to the illustrations by Jake Parker were my favorite part !
Batman: The Story of the Dark Knight by Ralph Cosentino is rare a book about a comic book character that is in a picture book format. I am telling you it’s hard to find books about Batman that I feel is not too violent for my 4 year old. This one is great , and the illustrations will leave you breathless. It explains the gist of the Batman story without going into too many dark details and the text is the right length for preschooler’s attention spans. My son loves it and had it memorized in just a few days. The author illustrator also has Superman and Wonder Woman in the series.
Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Alex Cottringer was exactly the kind of superhero book both my son and I were looking for. Eliot is just a calm quiet boy by day but by night he saves the world! It tapped into my son’s imagination right from the start and he was hooked. He loved the action and I loved that unlike the more character driven superhero books the plot is high on action and saving and low on violence and aggression. My son loved that scientists were working with Eliot, and that he had to travel to the Himalayas as part of this mission to save the world. I loved it to because it totally promotes and makes science and geography extra cool! All in all a great book although the text would have been too long for my son a year ago at 3. I’d keep this one for the 4 and up crowd.
Ladybug Girl Dresses Up! by Jacky Davis is one positive girl book that my daughter adores. In this board book Lulu dresses up in a handful of different costumes including both “girl” ones and “boy” ones. She is equally happy in a princess dress as she is as a pirate. The one costume she loves above all the rest is her Ladybug Girl one, because as Ladybug Girl she can do anything. The message I want to send to my daughter more than any other, she can do anything even if she may have to work as hard as a superhero.
The Day I Lost My Superpowers by Michael Escoffier is a sweet look at a child’s imagination and how she sees the world and her place in it. I love the how the super powers include things like “going back in time” at nap time and flying… off the slide. The best part though is when all the super powers disappear. All kids have rough days and this book recognizes that and tells them it’s OK not to have super powers every day.
Awesome Dawson by Chris Gall was an instant hit with both my children. Dawson is an amazing little boy who invents new things from other people’s trash. Dawson is just like other children who try to find ways to get out of their chores so he can get back to the important work of play. He’s one step ahead of most kids though and invents a robot to take care of this chores, but things don’t go as awesome as he hoped. That’s when he must re-invent himself into a superhero to save the day. I really love this book and how inspiring it is for kids exploring the idea of invention and tinkering.
Traction Man Is Here! by Mini Grey tickled me. I loved this slightly absurd book about Traction Man an action figure superhero. The excitement begins with Christmas when Traction Man is given to a little boy and they immediately dive into action. He saves the day over and over until the day includes a hand knit outfit made by Granny. The page where Traction Man puts on the outfit and matching bonnet made me snort I laughed so hard, but my daughter only smiled. While she liked the book much of the humor was above her head at 4. The very end is hilarious and everyone at the lunch table was giggling as I read it. The story is fresh and fun and in the end Traction Man saves the day.
My First Batman Book: Touch and Feel by David Katz. This is a rare find. A board book , a touch and feel no less, about Batman. Trust me it’s rare, I squealed when I found it at the library and could not believe what a treat it was to read with both my kids. It’s not secret my son ( the one in the improvised Batman mask above) is into superheroes, he is also into books and I want to encourage that. However some of the books are so violent and I don’t want to expose him to all that at 4.5 , he is just too young for my comfort zone. For beginning readers there are some great I Can Read books but for even younger children pickings are super slim. Luckily there is this book. It’s sturdy, it’s age appropriate and it even glows in the dark
Princess Super Kitty by Antoinette Portis is fun little book about a little girl playing pretend. She starts out as a kitty and as the play continues she evolves into superhero and finally adds princess to her title before playing with her siblings. This book captures pretend play and how so much of it is about trying on powerful roles. For my daughter this was a very familiar tale because her pretend play often includes a princess ballerina superhero. We read the book three times in one sitting and have yet to return it to the library because “It’s just so fun Mama!”
Batman Classic: Meet the Super Heroes: With Superman and Wonder Woman by Micheal Teitelbaum is another Batman book that both my son and I really liked. It’s an easy read for independent readers and not too long for kids not yet reading alone. What I really appreciated about this book was that the super heroes used teamwork to defeat a dragon. Here is why I liked this, because it wasn’t person on person violence , no guns, and all the heroes pitched in. It’s hard finding books that satisfy your child’s love of a character while still fitting your comfort zones. This book does it.