I'd suggest you start by reading the chapter on life insurance in Jane Bryant Quinn's Making the Most of Your Money. Buy it or get it out of the library.
One of the things you should do, in my opinion, after picking the amount of life insurance you feel you would need, is to price a term policy for that amount and price a whole life policy for that amount. The whole life policy is likely to cost 5 or 6 times as much as the term policy.
The slogan is "buy term and invest the difference." To do that, you need to find out the difference in prices, as I've suggested above. Then you need to invest/save (at least) 5 or 6 times your term premium through an IRA or other savings/investment vehicle, probably in a stock mutual fund that would provide you with growth.