In order to do our job the best, we watch kid’s TV, kid’s videos, visit toy stores, play video games, read comics, buy toys and order happy meals. (tough job, we know) In addition to talking and listening to kids about what they like, we also do our homework, and this includes reading tons of publications, for kids and about kids.
This book stood out to me, and left me wondering what took me so long to find it and read it. It is called ‘Killing Monsters, Why Children Need Fantasy, Make-Believe and Super Heroes’ by Gerard Jones, a writer for DC and Marvel comics. I picked this book up in my research on super-heroes for one of our upcoming projects. Jones writes about his experiences holding interactive comic book workshops with kids. When I signed up for a super-hero project, my initial fears about violence and guns bubbled up, and I was already thinking up villain friendly contraptions, and then I read this book. It not only gave me the information I was looking for- why kids like superheroes, what they like about them and even at what age they most identify with which part of the superhero- but it also completely changed my views on violence in the media.
Jones shows the reader that children often see something entirely different than adults. He shows that children use the media for different ends, such as overcoming powerlessness and learning to deal with reality. This book will make you see Pokemon, Barbie and the Power Rangers through children’s eyes, and actually find many positive qualities about them. It is a provocative but refreshing book, and I encourage every educator to pick it up.