Comic books have long suffered from a bad reputation. Dismissed by parents as too simplistic to offer the developmental benefits of “real books”, comic books have been viewed as a distraction from learning. But this myth is now being challenged, as research has shown reading about superheroes is not only fun, but it can also raise children to be super-readers at the same time.
1. Comic books can turn even the most reluctant readers into avid readers
For some parents, getting their children to pick up a book can be a struggle; confronted with pages of dense text, children can quickly lose interest and hence prefer online media. But getting children to enjoy books at this young age is crucial.
Research has shown that children who enjoy reading at a young age will likely become avid readers, and enjoy the associated benefits including increased vocabulary and higher levels of concentration, as a bonus.
Unlike traditional books, comic books burst with visual appeal. Their attention-grabbing images, bright colours, and snippets of text do not overwhelm children starting to read, but are instead a familiar sight for children who typically prefer TV.
The action-packed storylines of comic books will also appeal to young children who have shorter attention spans. Children also quickly become hooked on to it, wanting to be up to date with the activities of their favourite superhero protagonist.
2. Comic books can help struggling readers gain confidence
Have you ever been interrupted while reading a book and lost your train of thought, and have had to start all over again? For struggling readers, this can be a constant challenge, as maintaining a visual image of the storyline can be difficult when reading at a slow pace.
Comic books can help young readers overcome this – by providing images of the storyline as it unfolds. Struggling readers can take the time they need, to decipher individual words and sentences without losing track of the storyline.
At the same time, comic books enable children to follow narratives without necessarily having to decipher every word. For children who struggle to finish a traditional book, this can provide an immense sense of achievement, and as it’s known, a sense of accomplishment plays a key role in building confidence.
3. Comic books encourage active reading
Comic books present readers with moments of action, and they are challenged to “read between the lines”. By using their imagination, children have to infer what is happening out of sight using evidence and reasoning: a vital component of successful comprehension, and a valuable life skill for all young children to develop.
Carol L. Tilley, a professor of library and information science at Illinois, says “if you really consider how the pictures and words work together in consonance to tell a story, you can make the case that comics are just as complex as any other kind of literature.”
According to experts, this level of engagement will not only help children in the long-run by enabling them to develop a good relationship with reading but can also have immediate advantages. For instance, research has shown that children who are engaged in what they are reading acquire stronger vocabulary skills.
4. Comic books can boost vocabulary development
Considering comic books typically offer short and easy-to-read sentences, many parents probably don’t consider the ability of comic books to increase vocabulary. However, comic books uniquely provide visual clues that can help children decipher the meaning of unfamiliar words because the context is shown visually.
Parents can further help children develop their vocabulary by encouraging them to write their own comic strip, using any new words they have learnt. Because the task involves drawing and creative thinking, children will seize this opportunity, viewing it as fun, rather than learning.
5. Comic books can teach children more about the world around them
The action-packed narratives of comic books typically touch on various aspects of education – from learning about positive relationships to the exploration of historical events to learning about moral values.
For example, Aychu is a superhero who is passionate about nature and saving the planet. Although shy, Aychu fights to save the town she lives in from environmental disasters and stands up for what she knows is right. This powerful plot not only teaches children about the importance of protecting our environment but also teaches them important moral lessons.
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