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These Graphic Novels Will Make the World a Kinder Place

These Graphic Novels Will Make the World a Kinder Place

The world of graphic novels has grown immensely in recent years, and is no longer dominated by superheroes. Among these many intriguing tales told with stunning imagery are stories that we can all learn from. We at Kinder Beauty are always lit up by any and all forms of media that can help propel our overall goal of being a part of creating a Kinder world. So we have collected four graphic novels that inspire us to take action to help others. From the life story of civil rights leader Mohandas Gandhi to the bittersweet tale of a nurse caring for a woman with dementia, these compelling graphic novels offer visually told tales about the kinds of kindness that can change the world for the better.

A visiting nurse changes the life of a woman suffering from Alzheimer’s in Little Josephine

When visiting nurse Valérie Villieu first meets Josephine, an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s, the caregiver is bewildered by the lack of support for her patient from those who are supposed to be helping. Villieu is not frustrated by Josephine’s confusion, but upset by the neglect of other caregivers who had been hired to help Josephine—and infuriated by the irresponsibility and apathy of her patient’s conservator. It’s not a visiting nurse’s job to take charge of a patient’s life, but seeing Josephine’s suffering, that’s exactly what Villieu does. Kindly and compassionately she steers Josephine through the haze of dementia, advocates for her, and helps her, regardless of the parameters of her professional responsibilities. Throughout Little Josephine (by Valérie Villieu and Raphaël Sarfati), we feel Villieu’s empathy, adoration, frustration, and determination. Her mission is selfless and disregards the rules. And she succeeds in changing Josephine’s final days for the better.

George Takei shares his tale of incarceration as a Japanese-American in They Called Us Enemy

During World War II, every American of Japanese descent on the west coast was forced from their home and taken to “relocation centers.” 120,000 Japanese Americans were imprisoned in American concentration camps. One of those incarcerated was a very young George Takei, who eventually became known as a celebrated Star Trek actor and acclaimed public speaker. They Called Us Enemy (written by Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, with art by Harmony Becker) is the harrowing visual tale of his family’s time in these camps. Despite having to give up their lives and freedom, Takei's father's gentle wisdom prevails. The family suffers immeasurably in the camps and faces severe racism when they return to Los Angeles following their release. But George Takei emerges without hatred in his heart, as does his father. His father inspires the younger Takei to share his story, and work through activism to make a better country. By believing that people have the power to create change, and by taking action, the Takeis rise above the racism that they endured for so long.

One person’s devotion to peace and compassion frees a nation in Gandhi: My Life is My Message

With vivid imagery, Gandhi: My Life is My Message (written by Jason Quinn, with art by Sachin Nagar) takes readers from Gandhi’s days as a youth in India, through his decades in South Africa, and his many years leading movements for social change in his homeland. Throughout his life, Gandhi led numerous campaigns in the interest of justice and equality for all, forfeiting material wealth, and promoting peace. Though in and out of jail a number of times, Gandhi continued his mission, inspiring others with his compassionate and loving example. Devoted to nonviolence, truthfulness, vegetarianism, and renouncing ambition, Gandhi exemplified to the world that great things may be achieved, and injustices undone, without harm to others. He changed the fate of a nation, leading the movement to free India from British rule, by spreading love and kindness. This fast-paced graphic novel offers an in-depth look at his life and beliefs, delivering a compelling overview of his family, teachings, and the leadership that spread kindness to millions of people.

A devoted teacher refuses to give up on a child in Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller

Kindness is not always gentle. When teacher Annie Sullivan begins trying to teach seven-year-old Helen Keller, who is both blind and deaf, she is met by anguished tantrums and the rage of a person unable to communicate with the world. Yet Sullivan persists. Despite the challenges she faces in trying to teach Keller, and many hours when it seems as though she simply cannot get through to her student, she will not give up. Finally, she is able to teach Keller sign language, which leads not only to the student’s ability to communicate with her family and Sullivan, but eventually to read, write, and attend school. Sullivan’s kindness is not easygoing in the beginning. It is firm. It is determined. It is insistent. She must dig in her heels and push forward to help someone who doesn’t realize that they are being helped. Keller fights her and at times Keller’s parents are critical of Sullivan’s methods. But her devotion to teaching Keller is her kindness. She will not abandon her student. 

All of these tales are of kinds of kindness that are not as simple as niceties. These vivid graphic novels tell stories of people who promoted kindness by taking action to make the world a better place, showing a determined compassion for others, being persistent in their efforts, and refusing to give up.

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Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.

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