Using Comics To Promote Healthy Reading Habits
Promoting healthy reading habits in kids is not easy. For children, reading is associated with going to school, homework, and learning. The last thing they want to do after coming home from school is to start reading again. And the last thing you want to do, as a parent, is fight with your child. But in a world dominated by TV, video games and the Internet, you don’t want to be a lazy parent and just give up.
Kids today will more likely prefer to play video games, listen to music, watch movies and the TV. Ask any child about reading and they will tell you that reading is boring.
Children should be encouraged to turn off the TV and sit down with a good book, but asking them to do so will always be difficult. This is where a comic book can play the role to introduce your child to reading.
According to Suzanne Stauffer, a professor at Louisiana State University, developing the habit of reading at a young age is critical to forming adult reading practices. Whether your child is reading traditional novels or comic books, both contribute to this essential healthy reading habit. Comic books are a great way to trick your kids into having fun while reading. As comic books are primarily picture-driven with text only to supplement the action within the pictures, kids are less likely to associate this type of reading with what they are forced to do in school.
For reluctant readers, comic books are especially helpful for developing an interest in learning to read. A comic does not seem as dense or daunting as a normal book. For boys, comics can be a good arena to find stories with the action they crave and male-driven plot lines that they can relate to.
Benefits of Reading Comics
- Develops Visual Literacy: Comics can help children develop their visual literacy, which is the ability to interpret and analyze visual information. Comics use a combination of pictures and words to convey meaning, so readers must learn to interpret visual cues in addition to reading the text. This skill is becoming increasingly important in our visually-driven world, as children need to be able to interpret and analyze visual information in various media formats.
- Builds Reading Confidence: Comics can also build reading confidence in children who may be struggling readers. The visual aspect of comics can help children understand the text more easily, and the format can make reading seem less intimidating. And because comics are often serialized, children can feel a sense of accomplishment as they read through multiple issues or volumes.
- Encourages Active Reading: Comics require active reading, as readers must constantly interpret and analyze the visuals and text. This can help children become more engaged and attentive readers, as they must actively participate in the reading process.
- Diverse Representation: Comics can provide diverse representation and expose children to different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives. For example, the Black Panther comics feature a predominantly African cast of characters and explore African culture and mythology. Reading comics with diverse representation can help children develop empathy and understanding for people who may be different from themselves.
- Cultivates Imagination: Comics can cultivate children’s imagination by providing rich and detailed visual worlds that they can explore. The vivid illustrations and colors can help bring the story to life and inspire children to imagine their own stories and scenarios.
Parents should not dismiss comics as being less educational than traditional books, but instead view them as a unique and valuable addition to their children’s reading repertoire. By encouraging their children to read comics, parents can help their children develop important literacy skills and become engaged and active readers.
Introducing Your Child To Comics
One key to starting your child’s reading of comics is not to approach the matter like a chore or piece of homework. Instead of asking your child to “read” the comic, show them how interesting the comic is by looking through it together. Focus your child’s interest in the pictures and plot of the comic instead of asking them to read the words aloud. This will allow your child to engage with the piece without feeling like they are “learning.”
It is likely that your child enjoys watching cartoons, even if you would prefer that they didn’t. There are many crossover characters and storylines from comic books to children’s cartoons that may help you when initially introducing your child to comic books. If your kids are fans of the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk or Spider-man on TV, they are sure to enjoy the comics these characters stemmed from. Marvel offers comic books featuring Spider-man or the Avengers, most of which are suitable for children.
Here’s How You Can Introduce Your Child To Reading
A better way to introduce them to comics is through movies. Particularly now when superheroes movies are dominating the box office.
To explain it better I will use the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie and comics from Marvel. Spider-Man: Homecoming will be released in July 2017. If you have taken your child to Spider-Man 3, I am sure he will love (and waiting) for the next.
The first thing you need to do is buy him his first comic book. You can start by getting the latest issue The Amazing Spider-man. This is to build his anticipation for the movie and at the same time, his interest in reading. If you start early, you would have enough time to get a few issues before the movie.
In between the issues, talk to your son about what he’s reading. Ask him to summarize or retell it to you. If Spider-man is battling another supervillain, ask him to explain the details of the supervillain superpowers and how Spider-man defeated him. The more details he includes, the more apparent that he is following the story and engaged in it.
By the time the movie is out, take him to the movie. He will thank you for that and at the same time, you would have taken some time off from his TV and video games time to reading.
Even if it is only for a comic book, it is a start.
Gradually, introduce him to junior novels. Do this during your next family travel trip where he would need more than just comics to keep his time occupied during the trip. Especially when it involves a long drive or a few hours on the plane.
Get the idea?
Why Reading Is Important?
Reading helps your child acquire knowledge. If English is your second language, reading promotes speech and language development and helps to improve pronunciation and vocab. Reading calms the mind and this helps your child to relax.
The world is full of interesting things to learn and do. Don’t let your kids merely sit back and watch TV or play video games. Get them interested in reading, and let comics be the first step.
Which Comic Series To Start With:
There are many comic series that are appropriate for children and can help them develop a love for reading. Here are some suggestions for parents to consider:
- Marvel Adventures – This series features kid-friendly versions of popular Marvel characters like Spider-Man, The Avengers, and The X-Men. The stories are fun and action-packed, but still appropriate for younger readers:
- DC Superhero Girls – This series features female versions of popular DC Comics superheroes like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl. The stories are empowering and feature positive messages about teamwork and friendship.
- Bone – This series is a classic and beloved graphic novel series that follows the adventures of three cousins in a fantasy world. The story is epic and engaging, with humor and heartwarming moments throughout.
- Amulet – This series is another popular graphic novel series that follows the adventures of a young girl named Emily as she discovers a magical amulet that unlocks a new world. The story is exciting and features stunning artwork.
- Babysitters Club – This series is a graphic novel adaptation of the popular book series and follows the adventures of a group of friends who start a babysitting business. The stories are relatable and deal with issues that many kids face, like friendship, school, and family.
Each of these comic series is appropriate for children aged 10 and above, and can help children develop their reading skills while also providing them with entertaining and engaging stories.
Children can be introduced to comics as early as the age of 6 or 7, depending on their reading level and maturity. However, parents should make sure to choose age-appropriate comics for their children, as some comics may contain mature themes or language that may not be suitable for younger readers. It is important for parents to preview the content of the comics and choose titles that are appropriate for their child’s age and reading level. As children grow and develop their reading skills, they can be introduced to more complex comics with more sophisticated themes and storylines.
The best example is X Force Sex And Violence Limited Series which is clearly not suitable for children. Another thing to take note is that you child would definitely be drawn to action figures i.e. Batman or the Green Lantern 🙂
Finally, How To Move From Comics To Books?
Moving from comics to books can be a natural transition for children who are already interested in reading. Here are some tips for parents to help their children make the transition:
- Choose books with similar themes and genres – If your child enjoys superhero comics, consider introducing them to books with similar themes and genres. For example, they may enjoy books about young heroes, like Percy Jackson or Harry Potter.
- Start with graphic novels or illustrated books – If your child is used to reading comics, they may find it easier to transition to books with illustrations or graphic novels. These types of books can provide a visual element that may help them ease into more traditional novels.
- Set aside designated reading time – Setting aside a specific time for reading each day can help children develop a reading habit and make it a regular part of their routine. This can be a time for the whole family to read together or for children to read independently.
- Offer a variety of books – It is important to offer children a variety of books to choose from, so they can find something that interests them. This can include fiction and non-fiction books, books about different cultures and experiences, and books from different genres.
By taking these steps, parents can help their children transition from comics to books and continue to foster a love of reading. It is important to be patient and supportive, and to allow children to explore books at their own pace and according to their own interests.