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Comic Books Are Great For Reluctant Readers!

Those of you have heard me speak at conferences or read my previous posts, now that I’m a passionate fan of comic books. As a reader, there is no doubt in my mind that reading comics as a child not only fostered my love of reading, but helped me improve my vocabulary and gave my vivid imagination a launching pad. As a writer, I still read comics because the best comics writers today are great not only at story telling but at using dialogue to move a story along. You can always learn something by reading other writers.

Lately, I’ve been on a crusade to encourage kids to read more comics. I’ve also been trying to inspire teachers, librarians and parents to let kids read more comics. I think we now have a tremendous opportunity with Hollywood cranky out so many movies based on comics and graphic novels, to use this medium as a tool to help reluctant readers, especially boys, get hooked on reading.

If you’re a parent who loved comics as a kid, why not start reading them again ? After all kids pay more attention to what you do, than what you say. Rediscover the love of Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wonder Woman or Supergirl that you had as a kid. If  you start reading comics, I’ll bet your kids will too. And I’ll be willing to bet, once they start reading comics, they’ll start reading other things. Like, you know, books. Take them to a comic shop and let them look around. Tell them they can’t have an action figure, but they can have a comic book! (You can come back later and get them the action figure!) Note: If your community doesn’t have a comic shop, there are a ton of online comic sellers, so let your child browse their selection and find one they like.

I really believe we have a golden opportunity now to use the power of popular culture to inspire our kids to read more. And don’t just take my word for it. There is a ton of research showing that comics are a great way to get reluctant readers hooked on reading. Here is just one article.

And to encourage more kids, parents, teachers and librarians I’m going to do my part by reviewing comics on a regular basis. And trying to give you some of my recommendations of what I think you or your young reader might like. I think it’s a worthwhile experiment. Trust me. Reading comics as a kid, made me want to read other things. And I know a lot of my writer friends say the same thing.

So to kick things off, this week, I’m recommending FLASHPOINT #1. In brief, the original Flash, Barry Allan was killed a long time ago and replaced by the original Kid Flash, Wally West. But now Barry Allan is back from the dead. And as usual, when someone comes back from the dead, things have a tendency to go wrong. Way wrong. Like Universe altering wrong. And this story is a suspenseful page-turner as ‘back from the dead Barry’ is trying to figure out what the heck is going on and why the world is upside down. Things really get weird when Barry discovers that all of a sudden the world he knew is completely changed. There is no Superman. There is no Justice League. There is a Batman, but he is not the Batman you think he is. Intrigued? I was. And I think you will be. Flashpoint #1 is on sale now and I believe this is a good way for you and your child to connect over a book. It might not be a traditional book, but remember this:

Reading is reading.

More later

Your authorness

10 Comments

  1. I second this, Michael.

    One of my smartest friends says he learned more about science from comic books than from school. I’m not knocking school, and he may be exaggerating, but the point is clear: comics have value.

    With DC starting all titles over at #1 in September, it’s might be easier than ever for new readers to hop on board. (Though, of course, we can’t speak yet to the quality of these relaunches.)

    Teachers should also check out Graphic Classroom, which gives suggestions on how to incorporate comics into curriculum: http://tinyurl.com/3hgojs6.

    1. Thanks for the great post and info Marc. While I’d have to say a lot of the science in most comic books is exaggerated, it certainly sparked my interest in science as a kid. I’m remember a teacher not wanting to let me read comics during ‘free reading time’ until I showed her a list of vocabulary words I’d learned from the X-men comic I was reading. Luckily she was open minded and the topic never came up again.

  2. Mike,
    I homeschooled my son from Kindergarten through 9th grade.
    I wanted to foster in him the same love for reading that I have. One of the ways I did that was READ to him. However, when it came time to get him to read on his own ~ I brought in comic books. The response was immediate. He devoured them.
    I am pleased to tell you that he always read above his grade level. His vocabulary was, also, above grade level.
    Kids have an amazing ability to thrive if we give them the tools that work for them.
    The hardest adjustment I had this year letting him attend public school was the cookie cutter mentality. It saddened me that his geometry teacher had the chance to greatly impact his ability to grasp math…but missed the mark by a mile because of that cookie cutter mentality. If you can show kids that learning if fun (i.e. comic books being a fun way to learn to love to read)they can DO anything!
    ps. I still love comic books.

  3. My first job as a kid was to buy the comic books that my dad used in his barber shop. That was back in the 60’s and it was impossible to find the ‘next issue’ from week to week at Kitty’s Sweet Shop – the only place in town to buy comics. I remember that it took a few tries to figure out in what order to read the speech bubbles. But once I cracked the code I was hooked for life. They ignited my imagination. But today’s graphic novels are so much more than comic books about super heroes – they are truly novels with awesome stories to tell. And now, almost 50 years later I’m buying them again, and while it’s part of my ‘job’, it’s my favorite part. So a big shout out to all you GN creators – keep ’em comin’! There is no bigger thrill than to see a young boy reading Captain Underpants on a plane or a girl reading Baby Mouse on a subway.

    1. Ed thanks so much for your comment. Though it wasn’t my official job, the barber in the small town I grew up would give me a dollar and send me next door to the drug store to buy comics for his shop. They cost $.10 a piece then. I always felt like I was getting special treatment because I got to read Spider-Man and Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos first.

  4. I teach a graphic novel first thing in my technical commmunications course at the high school. I love them, and I’ll never forget Josh’s comment, “I can actually read this!” Talk about validation. I buy them for my library, also. My students come to look for them. What ever it takes to help them read is my motto.

    1. Thanks Stacy for the great post. And it’s good to have an educator validate what I’ve been telling people for a long time. And you’re 100% right when you say “Reading is Reading”. Thanks for taking the time to join the discussion.

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