Who doesn’t want their students to feel like superheroes? We all want to empower our kiddos to feel like they can do ANYTHING…even when that “anything” is a little scary. This book sets that scene perfectly! Written in quasi-comic book style, Superhero vs School, by Ethan Long, tells the take of Scotty, our caped hero! The book opens with Scotty bravely facing off against a giant evil robot. He is interrupted to deal with, what he calls “the real danger” of getting ready for the first day of school. As Scotty’s mom coaxes him along in his morning routine, Scotty imagines all of the dangers awaiting him, such as a school building with a menacing mouth full of teeth and an army of angry, wicked school supplies.
Fortunately for Scotty, as he reluctantly nears school on the first morning, he is greeting with a gang of new friends. Scotty realizes that he is stronger with these new friends by his side and that they are a team of heroes that can take on even the toughest opponents…and that maybe school isn’t such a scary place.
When I first looked at this book, I was drawn in by the bright, comic style illustrations and the message of teamwork. I knew I wanted to share it with students at school, but I tried it on my own kiddos first, to get their reactions. My daughter, a 5th grader, found the illustrations to be her favorite part. Throughout the story, many normal objects are personified as Scotty pictures them so ferociously. It actually prompted her to draw a few everyday objects with people-like qualities. However, the real impact was on my son, who is entering pre-kindergarten this year. Like many 4 year olds, he is enamored with superheroes and the idea of “defeating the villain”. He had previously mentioned that he was nervous about school and didn’t know if he would like it. After we read the story, we started using the language from the book to empower him to be brave and to show him that school was a place where friends come together and with friends its easy to “defeat” scary things. On his first day, he included his favorite Spiderman mask in his backpack, “just in case”. This got me thinking about how powerful this book could be for some of our littlest readers who would also have anxiety about the first day of school and might find power in the idea of being a “school superhero”. I also really like how the story ends with Scotty relying on his “team of heroes” to get through the days at school. Building that community within a classroom, while empowering our students to be a” superhero” was really appealing to me as a teacher and as a mom. This book has a permanent spot on my bookshelf and in my “Back to School” repertoire.