Studies have found that boys are much more avid readers of comics than girls (Krashen 1998) and the comic book
industry responds by publishing many more comics that involve boys’ interests. Middle school boys who buy comic book and read it, read more in general than boys who did not read comics, read more books, and enjoyed reading more. Comics have been a valuable tool for teachers who have reluctant readers, most of whom are boys. These children appear capable of reading, but have such low interest they don’t read enough material to continually increase their reading skills.
There are also compelling case histories of children who were reluctant readers until they discovered comics. Haugaard, (1973, p. 85) writes that her sons were “notoriously unmotivated to read and had to be urged, coaxed, cajoled, threatened and drilled in order even to stay in super slow group in reading” until they discovered comics.
The popularity of comics continues to grow. According to the International Association of Media Tie-In Professionals, there were over 1 billion dollars spent on media tie-in products in 2006 alone. That number will continue to rise as new titles come out each year. As long as this trend continues, we should expect to see even greater numbers of comic books being published every year.
Comic books are not sub-quality reading material. The more pleasurable your child finds reading material, the more he reads and the more his reading skills improve (Wahlberg 1984). Do not be put off by the fact that your son doesn’t read books. He’s getting the same literacy exercise by reading comics, the sports section, or a paper airplane manual.
Comics can be used as an effective teaching aid when students are struggling with comprehension or vocabulary. The use of comics has also proven successful at helping students learn about history and geography. Comic strips like “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County” help teach kids about American History through humor. In addition, these cartoons provide information on current events which is important for young people today. For example, Bloom County provides information on environmental issues while Doonesbury deals with political topics.
The use of comics has become increasingly popular among educators because of its ability to engage students. Many schools now offer classes where students create their own comic strips. Students may choose from a variety of subjects including science, math, social studies, art, music, etc. They then write scripts, draw pictures, color them, add sound effects, and publish their work online. This allows students to express themselves creatively without having to worry about grammar or spelling mistakes. It also gives them practice writing stories and learning how to tell a story using words and images.
Comics teach children to think critically about their world
The best way for kids to learn is through play. When they have fun with something, it sticks in their brains better than when they just sit there listening to you talk about it. Comic book stories can help develop critical thinking because of how much information is packed into each page. Kids will notice things like: “Why does this character look different from everyone else? What makes him special? Why do I care what happens next? How did this happen? Who made these characters? Where was this story set?” These questions lead them down paths where they begin to ask themselves similar questions about other aspects of life. They start asking why people act certain ways, why some people get along while others don’t, and so on. This helps prepare them for real-life situations later on. It also teaches them empathy – being able to understand someone who has been treated differently from yourself.
Comics make learning fun!
Learning should never feel boring. If anything, it should be exciting. Learning new concepts is hard work, but if we enjoy doing it then our minds won’t shut out as easily. We want to keep learning all day long, even though sometimes we may find ourselves bored at school. But if we were having fun during class time, would we still complain about boredom? Probably not. So let’s try making learning fun again. Let’s use comics to bring back the joy of learning.
Comics give us heroes
We love superheroes. Whether it’s Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine, Thor…the list goes on. And most importantly, we know that those superheroes aren’t perfect. They struggle too. Sometimes they fail. That’s part of growing up. As adults, we need role models to show us that we can overcome obstacles and succeed. Superheroes provide us with examples of perseverance and strength. In addition, they inspire us to become stronger versions of ourselves.
Comics encourage creativity
Creativity isn’t always easy. Some days it feels impossible. However, if we practice enough, eventually we’ll see results. Creativity comes naturally to many people. For example, artists draw pictures without ever trying. Writers write novels without any idea of whether anyone will actually read them. Musicians compose songs without knowing if anyone will listen. All three of these activities require great amounts of imagination. Imagination allows us to create worlds within our own minds. By practicing creative acts over and over, we build up an arsenal of ideas and techniques which allow us to produce amazing works of art.
Comics promote self-expression
When we express ourselves creatively, we gain confidence. Confidence leads to success. Success leads to happiness. Happiness leads to health. Health leads to longevity.