I got an iPad for Christmas and the very first thing my husband said when I unwrapped it was, “Please don’t let the kids play with it.” And I didn’t… for a whole month. But when it comes right down to it, there are just too many fun iPad apps for kids to be ignored! Especially when many of them are educational. This week I downloaded the who? Comics app, which is currently free on iTunes. It came with two free biography comics, one of which was the life story of Bill Gates. I asked my nine-year-old if he knew who Bill Gates was and he replied, “Um, was he in the Revolutionary War?” Oh boy. Clearly, some reading was in order!
After Warren Buffett’s story, my son started checking out the previews of all 29 comic books available for $4.99 each (cheaper if you buy them as collections). He was reading the first chapter of the Walt Disney comic when something occurred to him. “Mom! All of these guys got allowance! Warren Buffett got allowance and Walt Disney got allowance even though his family was POOR and they lived on a FARM!” In his nine-year-old mind, allowance must be the key to success in this world. I guess we’ve been holding him back. We’ll have to think about that one.
One neat feature of the app is that there are several badges available. This makes reading a bit more like a game, where you can earn a badge for something as simple as reading early in the morning or after 8 p.m. at night. But honestly, the comics are enough to keep my son engaged. He came straight home from school today and when his younger brother asked if they could play Wii my nine-year-old said, “Mom, do I have to? I really just want to keep reading.” He then sat down and read about Oprah, before moving on to the story of Stephen Hawking.
My only reservation with these comics is that the content of each story varies in its age appropriateness, so I felt the need to read each one before handing it over to my nine-year-old. But even that plan was not foolproof. When I thought my son was reading about Walt Disney, he had actually skipped over to the preview of the Ho Chi Minh comic. That story begins in 1890, when Vietnam was a French colony, so there are references to “French pigs” and several images of people being beaten by soldiers. I would have saved that one for when he is older. In the Oprah story too, some details were more than I would have shared with an elementary school student.
Overall, having my son read the life stories of prominent figures in our culture has lead to some great discussions. I showed him the cover story on Warren Buffett in the January 23, 2012 issue of TIME. We visited Bill Gates’ blog to read his 2012 Annual Letter. In this letter, Bill Gates says, “In times of tight budgets, we have to pick our priorities. It’s clear that in this particular time, we’re in danger of deciding that aid to the poorest is not one of them. I am confident, however, that if people understand what their aid has already accomplished—and its potential to accomplish so much more—they’ll insist on doing more, not less. That is why I wrote my letter.” He then encourages students to write their own annual letters. Reading these comics turned out to be a perfect segue to talking about the importance of giving back and helping the less fortunate. And, as a parent, those opportunities are always welcome.
Thank you again to who? Comics for sponsoring my post. Please click here to learn more about the app. Visit who? Comics for updates. I was selected for this opportunity by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own. #CleverWhoComics #spon