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Comic Books and Literacy

Written By: Evan Ehrenberg on July 30, 2008 1 Comment

Literacy, like most skills in life, is developed through practice. When one sees a talented basketball player, they assume he amassed his skills via practice. It is the same concept with reading, the more you practice, the better you get. Yet, when someone sees an avid reader, they assume he is just good at reading, as if he was born a good reader. Parents and schools often think that their duty stops after they have taught the student to read. But as I said before, reading is established through practice, it is not a skill that once learned, is automatically perfected. And as we know, practicing basketball does not revolve around quality, it revolves around quantity. The same is true for reading. Many parents and teachers try to steer their children away from comic books, graphic novels and and other “fun” readings, and instead try to make the kid read chapter-books and the classics.. While this may be good material for a student that already enjoys reading , it fails when applied to students who find reading to be a chore, not a pleasure. If however, we give these kids comic books and they read them, they will enjoy reading. And since reading revolves around quantity, they will learn to read at the same pace as a child who enjoyed reading from the start. After the children have been introduced to reading through comic books, they can transition to novels on their own, only now they will have a better vocabulary, reading fluency, and overall enjoyment of reading. Ask any student in an honors english class and chances are they have a stack of graphic novels and comic books at home. On my bookshelf you will find a plethora of Star Wars graphic novels, DC comics, Marvel comics, Foxtrot, Calvin and Hobbes, and some Garfield.

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One Response to “Comic Books and Literacy”

  1. Youki on: 6 February 2009 at 2:02 am

    just saw this great video on ted.com. I really like his concept of the “infinite canvas” (13:10), that the structure of a digital text doesn’t have to correspond to the structure of traditional, left-right/top-bottom print comics.

    Scott McCloud: Understanding comics

    and here is a link to “Pup ponders the heat death of the universe”


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