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Comic Books Improve Early Childhood Literacy 127

Posted by timothy
from the shore-helped-mee dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports that Professor Carol Tilley, a professor of library and information science at the University of Illinois, says that comics are just as sophisticated as other forms of reading, children benefit from reading them at least as much as they do from reading other kinds of books, and that there is evidence that comics increase children's vocabulary and instill a love of reading. 'A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words,' says Tilley. 'But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words.' Tilley says that some of the condescension toward comics as a medium may come from the connotations that the name itself evokes but that the distinct comic book aesthetic — frames, thought and speech bubbles, motion lines, to name a few — has been co-opted by children's books, creating a hybrid format."
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Comic Books Improve Early Childhood Literacy

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  • No doubt. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dyinobal (1427207) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:49PM (#30017024)
    There's an art to reading graphic novels, and knowing how to read them. To analyze the frames for relative action to the story and so on. I for one have never been as good at understanding comics as I have traditional literature.
    • I was about to post the same thing. Even as a kid I didn't get into comics, because I had to constantly switch my mind from processing words to processing the action. I'd get fatigued from that many context switches in one reading session. This is also the reason I absolutely _hate_ subtitles in movies. I guess my mind is just wired differently.

      • I have no problem with subtitles in anime. It's really not that hard to read the text while you're looking at the image.. if anything the text is easier. I want to play the video at double speed sometimes because I read the line instantly and then have to sit around for a few seconds waiting for the character to say it.

        As for the story, I'm sure it depends on the type of comic. If you're reading Dresden Codak then you're getting more real material than most books. If you're reading POWs and KER-BLAMs in a s

    • There's an art to reading graphic novels, and knowing how to read them.

      You can probably get a degree in it.

    • by heritage727 (693099) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:01PM (#30017106)

      There's an art to reading graphic novels, and knowing how to read them. To analyze the frames for relative action to the story and so on. I for one have never been as good at understanding comics as I have traditional literature.

      I agree. My 13 year-old son can read a graphic novel and tell me the story in great detail. When I look at one of his books it's just a bunch of random explosions and women with bizarrely large breasts.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TrentTheThief (118302)

      Had you started reading comics when you could buy them for five cents, you'd have had an easier time making sense of the story and not needed to worry about the graphics stealing your concentration. The artwork then, compared to that found in comics today could only be called primitive. This is not to say that the artists were unskilled, but rather that the medium was still, for all its color, only in its late infancy.

      The graphic novels of today revel in the pure colors and glossy paper. 50-60 years ago, wh

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        "The writers were passing their mores to the next generation, building a society viewed patriotism without today's fashionable disdain, without the snarky remarks about nationalism and right-wing beliefs. It was better then."

        You forget, that the right wing deserved its disdain by distorting the word 'patriotic' with their 1-bit white&black view.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TrentTheThief (118302)

          Such insight.

          Your brilliant hindsight is a common flaw of youth. Displaying great wisdom when you have few facts and only one chance to do the right thing is harder than simply passing judgement on decisions made before you were born.

          You'll see. Your grandchildren's generation will call you to task for missing the obvious solutions.

          Time makes fools of everyone.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by g253 (855070)
        Well, I personally learned all the multiplication tables at school, it also works... And while a comic functions just like any other book in teaching the kid the many skills needed to enjoy reading, it's obviously not going to be as good as other books for certain specific aspects. You can get a lot from reading comic books, or from reading the Illiad, or Tolkien, or Carroll... you're just not going to learn all the same things. What I mean to say is I think comics are a good read, but shouldn't be the only
        • by mikael (484)

          Judge Dredd comic has a forum where readers can discuss the different stories. I see the same discussions there, as we had in high-school English when taught about the "classical" plays, novels and stories.

        • When I was a kid, I had my dad's collection of Classics Illustrated.

          Three Musketeers, Count of Monte Cristo, and many others.

          Honestly it's the only way I've read (still) some of the classics.... one of the negative points of an engineering education I guess.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The graphic novels of today revel in the pure colors and glossy paper. 50-60 years ago, when they went to press with the "dick tracy" palette and stipple shading, plotlines were somewhat less complicated (stories were pretty cut and dried, good vs. evil with no shades of gray) and relied more on the text than they did on the art. The writers were passing their mores to the next generation, building a society viewed patriotism without today's fashionable disdain, without the snarky remarks about nationalism and right-wing beliefs. It was better then.

        Of course, you are forgetting that thanks to 'moral panics' about the content of comics, the Comic Code Authority [wikipedia.org] censored all comics to remove storylines which were deemed 'perverted', where authority figures did anything wrong, or where good did not triumph over evil. It's less about the writers' mores and more to do with an industry responding to intense government pressure.

        50-60 years ago most people alive remembered the Second World War and the urgent question was whether Communism was going to conquer

        • That effort began when Maureen O'Sullivan displayed her smoking hot body on the silver screen in a tarzan movie.

          The Hayes Commission began their evil in the 30's.

          But there will always be some group who wants you to think and act as they do, no matter how ridiculous there beliefs are.

      • Oh, dear. You never read various of the underground comics, did you? From the "Jack Chick" tracts to the "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" to "The Spirit", many cartoons have been educational and politically non-standard.

        • Me? Of course, I have. Chick's tracts were and are, always good for a chuckle. Zap, Satin Lust, Tart, FFFB, I've read them all.

          Eisner's Spirit is an all time favourite. I like the pulp feel and story lines.

          • Oh, I like "The Spirit" too. You may be older than me: I didn't get to read those growing up. But the comics have had various smaller print versions for quite a few decades that are worth reading for unusual political bents and a far broader education than the mainstream comic books provide.

    • I never really enjoyed reading comic books.
    • by makuabob (1035076)
      Absolutely!

      I learned an incredible amount about innuendo, suggestive phrasing, double entendre AND adult humor from years of reading MAD! magazine from the late '50s on. Just the effort of finding the humor in Spy vs Spy several times each issue was an exercise with a great payoff! It sent me on my way to early geekdom as a radio-TV repairman, electronics technician in the Navy and, totally unavoidable, computer programming as early as the 1980s! Many thanks, Alfred E.! (BTW, I have the current issue (Will

    • There is a lot of poor comic stuff out there. It is an undervalued medium, so the people who do it tend to be a bit off-beat. You get a lot of strange stuff, a lot of experimental stuff, a lot of actually not very good stuff. A lot of web comics are done by people who are developing their style while holding down other jobs. But there are gems. If we have a good peer group that reads comics and appreciates them; and comic book artists just become 'artists', then one day we may get immortal works to sit alo

  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @04:56PM (#30017064) Homepage Journal

    Q: What's the difference between a comic and a graphic novel?

    A: About twenty quid.

    [kadradabumTISH!]

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Q: What's the difference between a comic and a graphic novel?

      A: About twenty quid.

      s/comic/novel/ and it's still true

  • If they think comic books will help, just imagine what they could do with manga!

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Virak (897071)

      I don't think the world needs a whole generation of children wearing Naruto headbands. Now, if we can get them all to read something like Berserk, then maybe it'll be a good idea. We'd certainly be well prepared for any sudden outbreaks of horrible hellish rapebeasts.

  • by bogidu (300637) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:00PM (#30017102)

    I lived in Spain for a year, spoke/read very little spanish when I moved there and read alot of x-men comic books. They did help me pick up vocabulary and common expressions and such. Anyone who things that any form of reading cannot help just due to it's content is just being prejudicial against the material.

    • by gmanterry (1141623) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:09PM (#30017154) Journal
      I had the same experience when the Peace Corps sent me to French West Africa. French books use different tenses than spoken French. We spent three months learning French. I could order a meal, rent a car, etc, but I could not carry on a conversation. A friend suggested I buy some French comics. They are all written is 'spoken' French. It helped me a lot. I would suggest to anyone learning a foreign language to read comics in that foreign language. Terry
      • by alexo (9335)

        I had the same experience when the Peace Corps sent me to French West Africa. French books use different tenses than spoken French. We spent three months learning French. I could order a meal, rent a car, etc, but I could not carry on a conversation. A friend suggested I buy some French comics. They are all written is 'spoken' French. It helped me a lot. I would suggest to anyone learning a foreign language to read comics in that foreign language.

        Terry, can you recommend French comics that can appeal to a 1

    • by Renraku (518261) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:10PM (#30017160) Homepage

      A friend of mine is obsessed with all things Japanese. I'm interested in the language myself, so I used the Rosetta stone software. I was impressed with what I was able to learn. Fast forward two years.

      He knows way more Japanese than I do. I can barely remember the katakana/hirogana. He has a real actual USE for it, and uses it daily. I don't use it much at all. When I do, I have to look everything up.

      I suspect if I had gotten some manga (in Japanese) or read a lot of Japanese websites, I'd be much better at it today.

      • by wrook (134116) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @10:19PM (#30018846) Homepage

        Manga is excellent at teaching spoken Japanese. Almost without exception the language you see is the same language that people are using to communicate in every day situations. Of course you have to avoid using extremely rude or bizarre expressions. But it isn't actually difficult to determine what those are. People who don't read manga have this strange idea that manga readers walk around talking like Naruto. The one drawback is that you aren't going to be exposed to a large amount of very polite language. But, personally, I think you shouldn't concentrate on that until you have a decent fluency with plain forms (YMMV)

        For anyone who wants to read manga to learn Japanese I have two pieces of advice. If your vocabulary isn't that good, you'll be looking up every second word and it will go too slowly for you to remember anything. Memorize vocabulary as you go until you can read about 95% without looking up the words. After that point, you may not have to memorize words explicitly if you are reading enough. You might just learn them as you're reading (again, YMMV). But using a computer or electronic dictionary dramatically speeds up searching, so don't bother with paper.

        The second piece of advice is to read Tae Kim's Grammar guide http://www.guidetojapanese.org/learn/grammar [guidetojapanese.org] There is almost nothing in a manga that isn't covered in this guide. I also believe that Tae Kim's presentation is vastly superior to any other Japanese grammar book. Personally, I memorize all the example sentences from the guide (English --> Japanese) using a spaced repetition program.

        Using primarily manga and Tae Kim's guide I've become relatively functional in Japanese. I can hang out with people who only speak Japanese and have a good time. I've even been on a couple of dates where the girl didn't speak any English. I've never taken a Japanese class.

        • I can hang out with people who only speak Japanese and have a good time. I've even been on a couple of dates where the girl didn't speak any English. I've never taken a Japanese class.

          And I bet you got the typical american accent (or danish or what ever, they're all horrible) that is so grating to the ear.

          There is no substitute for a thorough, academically based intensive language course you get at good universities. You'll be spending the rest of your time trying to correct faults in your pronunciat
          • My strategy is to learn to understand japanese good enough that I can understand a conversation well enough and then use english to communicate. It's always easier to learn to understand than to speak. (Note: I learn japanese mainly as a hobby.)

            • by wrook (134116)

              Having just written a bunch about finding your own path to learning a language, I'm hesitant to respond ;-). However, my experience has been that practicing production increases the speed at which I learn dramatically. If I only try to understand, I constantly forget small details. But if I actually have to produce grammar the details stick in my brain.

              It's a bit like studying kanji. A lot of people avoid it, thinking that it's something they won't need. But memorizing kanji dramatically increases the

              • I do think you should learn to produce sentences (both spoken and written) it's just that I think learning to speak "flawless" (i.e. not with horribly broken accent) japanese is unnecessarily hard and so the focus should be on getting an "adequate" level of spoken japanese and a "good" verbal and written comprehension.

                Citation marks to indicate that it is from the point of view of a hobbyist learning the language=)

          • by wrook (134116)

            No I don't. Everyone tells me my accent is very easy to understand. My biggest problem is getting the tones right. I often learn vocabulary from reading so I'll guess at the tones. Often I'm wrong ;-). But my friends correct me immediately, so it's not a problem.

            I forgot to mention a few things that I do as well. I *talk* to people. Right from the very beginning I went to Japanese meet ups in order to practice speaking. Now I live in Japan, so I talk to people in Japanese every day.

            The other thing I

      • by sunwolf (853208)
        Rosetta Stone is generally a waste of time.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        Yeah, just beware of being that guy who takes Japanese language classes who obviously obsesses way too much over manga and anime. Everybody I know who has taken a class in that language says there are guys -- repeat that, guys -- in the class who show up on Day One calling everybody "Janice-chan" and whatever. Japanese language students can smell an otaku a mile away, and though those types often show up with some advance knowledge they're generally the equivalent of a boat anchor around the necks of studen

    • It's usually the case that in every country there is a classic comic strip or two that is very highly regarded, and which language learners would do very well to pick up and read, with the extra bonuses that (a) people won't look down on you for reading it, and (b) people often make references and allusions to the strips in question in everyday conversation. For American English it's Peanuts [wikipedia.org]; for Spanish it's Mafalda [wikipedia.org]; for French it's Astérix [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Panoptes (1041206)
      I owe my fluency in French to Asterix - started back in 1965 while studying for A Level French, and never looked back. I not only actively encourage my secondary school English as a Second Language students to read comics, but get them to create their own - drawing and writing them as a class exercise. It's one of the most successful classroom activities that I know.
      • by gijoel (628142)
        damn I wish I had mod points
      • I owe my fluency in French to Asterix - started back in 1965 while studying for A Level French, and never looked back.

        Asterix is aimed at small children. You should be well beyond that by the time you even start A level. Especially back then when you weren't guaranteed a minimum C grade for spelling your name right.

    • I believe reading my father's collection of english-language underground comics as a child contributed significantly to my English skills. (Not a native speaker) I remember first leafing through them when I was maybe 7 years old, and I would return to them from time to time when I was bored. At first I found the more adult-oriented stuff boring (and it really was not what you would call suitable material for children, what with all the drug use and sexual content), skipping it altogether for strips with mor
    • Anyone who things that any form of reading cannot help just due to it's content is just being prejudicial against the material.

      You might try this Bob the Angry Flower comic [angryflower.com] sometime.

  • by Alaren (682568) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:01PM (#30017108)

    Despite their marginalization, Tilley said the distinct comic book aesthetic -- frames, thought and speech bubbles, motion lines, to name a few -- has been co-opted by children's books, creating a hybrid format.

    "There has been an increase in the number of comic book-type elements in books for younger children," Tilley said.

    For anyone who wants to know what she's talking about, go check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid [wimpykid.com]--assuming you haven't already. It's usually categorized as a "Middle Grade" series of books and is hugely best-selling. It isn't as epic or serious as Harry Potter or the Twilight books, and solidly middle grade stuff doesn't usually get as much play in the press because it doesn't cross over as well into an adult audience, but Jeff Kinney makes fabulous use of short, often one-panel "comics" right in the flow of the story. It's more than illustrations (as still seen in many MG books) but less than exposition.

    I'm not sure why the only titles mentioned in the article were Astro Boy and Sailor Moon. I think the professor's arguments are well-considered, but there are some great concrete examples that would have given the article a little more meat.

    • by cvd6262 (180823)

      It isn't as epic or serious as Harry Potter or the Twilight books

      Serious?!?!

      I guess you didn't actually read Twilight [thebigbags.com], did you?

  • Tintin (Score:5, Funny)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:03PM (#30017126) Homepage

    Shooting rhinos for the lulz since 1931

  • Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:05PM (#30017134) Homepage

    What a coincidence. I was just thinking about my dad -- ordinarily a highly intelligent person -- and how he once told me how disappointed he was that I was reading comics, because "I'd forget how to read real books," or some such nonsense. (I was probably about 14 at the time -- a crucial time of life, apparently, when the danger of literary alopecia lurks around every corner.)

    What pop seemed to have forgotten was that a large part of the reason why I was reading three or four grades ahead of my class when I first started school was because A.) I had seen the movie Star Wars, and B.) that meant I needed to immerse myself in every Star Wars thing I could possibly get my hands on, especially including comic books.

    Remember, there was no way to just watch your favorite movie at home in those days. One of the main ways to get my daily fix of the Force was to revisit the saga in comic book form. And it turns out this was actually a very efficient way to learn how to read. Consider: Having seen the movie in the theater about seven times already, I had pretty much memorized all the lines. The dialogue in the comic books wasn't exactly the same, but before long I could easily follow along with the simple lines and expository captions.

    These days I'm revisiting the same trick, reading Franco-Belgian graphic albums as a booster for studying French. My brain is far less able to pick up languages these days than when I was a kid, but the same rules apply with modern French comics as with those Star Wars comics from the 70s, for the most part. The things characters say aren't usually all that complex, and the pictures often give you a hint as to what they might be saying. You can even pick up idioms and colloquialisms that you might not normally be exposed to by a textbook.

    I'm glad to see someone's actually doing the research, though. It's probably the only way you would ever convince my dad.

    • My brother would summon disasters from the menus in SimCity 2000 before he could read. I'm not sure how much of it was recognizing the word, but still...
    • by tverbeek (457094)

      Show me a 10-year-old who knows the meaning of "invulnerable", and I'll show you a kid who reads comics.

      I learned to read before I started school, well enough that they put me in a 1st-grade class for reading when I was supposed to be in kindergarten. I was also a fan of comic books and comic strips. Not a coincidence. Reading comics engages both the linguistic left side of the brain and the spatial right side of the brain. What could be a better way of learning?

      • by MacWiz (665750)

        I learned to read before I started school...

        So did I and it was because my grandmother taught me how to read the Sunday comics. I was successful in passing this extra advantage on to my own child by doing the same thing. Anything that makes kids want to read is a good thing. Once you start reading, spelling and vocabulary happen almost on their own.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was reading well when I was four years old, almost exclusively because I had my grandmother read comics to me. I got to know them well enough that I started correcting her when she made a mistake, so she quit and told me to read them myself. One evening at dinner I saw something in the newspaper and started reading it; Dad asked what I thought I was doing, and Mom said I was reading. Dad, said something along the lines of, show me how you read, thinking I could not. So I read it to him and it floored him;

    • It's OK, I improved my school French with Tintin too. We don't have to avoid the T-word. We know nowadays it's stereotypical racist and all the rest...but so is a lot of French literature. And with Asterix...my French teacher was convinced I would fail French Lit O level (this is the distant past, folks) because I really didn't think much of the set books. I took it a year early and got a grade A. I went on to read Rabelais in the original. And I agree with everything you write.
      • by PCM2 (4486)

        I've actually never read any Tintin! I guess I should, though. (Shooting rhinos, what a hoot!)

        • by bfields (66644)

          Well, the "shooting rhinos" one (Tintin au Congo) is the way to maximize the "stereotypical racist" component and minimize the actual fun.... Almost any of the albums since then are much better.

  • Interesting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Seakip18 (1106315) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @05:10PM (#30017166) Journal

    I always enjoyed reading the comics as a kid. I'd have to say Calvin and Hobbes was the best. Nothing like a big cardboard box being so many different things when left to your imagination.

  • Comic books are a great gateway drug to more serious reading. If a kid gets interested in story and plot then they will continue that interest in other reading materials... but at the same time, comics can help instill an appreciation of graphic arts in a way they might not have otherwise. It's a twofer!

  • Nerds of many stripes can benefit from the book Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud [scottmccloud.com]. It is required reading in many undergrad and masters programs (like HCI, Film, English, Interaction Design, etc). If you ever have the chance to see Scott give a talk, do yourself a favor and go.

    If you aren't sure if comics are a legitimate art or communication medium, read the book. It uses comics as a platform for explaining how narrative works---and that's something that is useful to basically everybody.

  • My son is seven years old and has graduated to books like Zac Power [wikipedia.org]. But two years ago he was into comic books. I think anything which gets them reading is good. With a comic they can follow the pictures then use the words to better understand the story, so it definitely leads them into reading and gives them the confidence to turn the pages.

  • Little kids seem to love The Family Circus [familycircus.com] (characters look like them), and later will get a kick out of The Dysfunctional Family Circus [furr.org].

  • I grew up in the 50s. The proprietor of a general store near home let me read comics off the rack, which was very nice of him, even though I did buy a lot after reading them. The best were the Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck comics. The ones I found out years and years later were written and drawn by Carl Barks. That's where I learned about the 7 Cities of Cibola, Atlantis, King Solomon's Mines, The Philosopher's Stone, The Abominable Snowman. As I got older I came to appreciate the complexity of the cha
    • by N!NJA (1437175)
      Barks' work has been inspirational for Spielberg and Lucas...

      from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      Steven Spielberg and George Lucas have acknowledged that the rolling-boulder booby trap in the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark was inspired by the 1954 Carl Barks Uncle Scrooge adventure "The Seven Cities of Cibola" (Uncle Scrooge #7). Lucas and Spielberg have also said that some of Barks's stories about space travel and the depiction of aliens had an influence on them.[3] Lucas wrote the foreword to the 1982 Uncle Scrooge McDuck: His Life and Times. In it he calls Barks's stories "cinematic" and "a priceless part of our literary heritage".

      those comics were of a remarkable quality! they expanded both my knowledge of history (Greeks, Romans, Vikings, etc) and vocabulary immensely. it was also through Barks' stories i learned English (painfully translating word-by-word with a dictionary). it's sad that those characters and stories got so over-simplified for the "Ducktales" cartoon.

      for more info on Barks works, check out:
      inducks.org [inducks.org]
      BarksBase [barksbase.de]

    • "Micro" is Greek. That Latin root for very small is "pusill.." so I think you mean "Pusillmolle" -
  • Now as a kid who had a fairly vast comic book collection I would read them a lot, and well looked at the drawings as well ( Mrs. Fantastic was pretty dang hot ) and I doubt I am any worse for the exposure.

    Fast Forward 40 years and now I have an 8 year old. He just finished reading Tom Sawyer for school and was completely absorbed by it and it had very few simple line drawing illustrations. He is trending toward books with few illustrations and I am really ok with that.

    I am not sure if that is a product of

  • Why so defensive? I haven't heard a discouraging word about comics since specialty stores started pulling in big bucks and especially since Bruce Willis made it a habit of using them as a primary source. Perhaps TFA wouldn't get get as much milage here if it made the generalization explicit and said that narrated dialog with action directions given as illustrations improved etc. etc. And the author may not have been confident of the attention to be had except when there's a condescending offstage character

  • Other languages, too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Aladrin (926209) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @06:48PM (#30017752)

    Someone above mentioned Spanish, but I've been using 'comic books' to help learn Japanese. Regular books are -far- too hard yet, but I could puzzle my way through an easy manga (japanese comic book) months ago now. Now I'm up to early teen mangas and still getting better. Yes, my goal is to eventually read any book I can lay my hands on, but there's no doubt in my mind that manga have made it far, far easier to learn Japanese.

    I see no reason this wouldn't be the same for English as well. Yes, there may be some reluctance from the child when moving from comics to real books, but if they already enjoy reading when it comes time for that, it'll be easier.

  • by Roblimo (357) on Saturday November 07, 2009 @07:20PM (#30017964) Homepage Journal

    Yah. I remember, as a kid in Orange, California in the late 50s - mid 60s, the unanimous line from parents and teachers about how comics would rot your brain and keep you from ever reading "real" books.

    Funny thing: me and my comics-reading, comics-trading buddies all grew up to love reading. We graduated from comics to adult (not meant in the porn sense, you dirty-minded pervert) books earlier than most of our peers, and still, in our 50s, tend to read more than most people.

    Go figure!

    • by MtViewGuy (197597)

      If it weren't for Frederic Wertham's book The Seduction of the Innocent, I think the American comics industry would have continued to grow and companies like Marvel and DC would have started to branch out into more "adult" comics by the middle to late 1960's. And it would have been only just behind Japan and the French-speaking countries in terms of level of readership.

      During the height of the Dragonball craze, Shuiesha's Shounen Jump anthology in Japan would get around nearly seven million readers per week

  • > A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people
    > who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting
    > them together with the words,' says Tilley. 'But you could easily
    > make some of the same criticisms of picture books - that kids are
    > just looking at pictures, and not at the words.'

    Umm, kids read picture books up through about Kindergarten, and yeah, they *are* basically just looking at the pictures and, hopefully, listening -- mom and dad are supposed to
  • I've always suspected as much.
    I only read Playboy to increase my vocabulary and increase a love of reading.
    • You could do a lot worse : "A few of the notable authors [knowledgerush.com] who have had works published in Playboy include John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Alex Haley, Stephen King and many more". A lot of SF greats [knowledgerush.com] have also published in Playboy : "In 1966, the magazine showed off a bit with The Playboy Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy, a selection of tales first published in its pages, including George Langelaan's "The Fly" (source of the movie), Charles Beaumont's "The Crooked Man," Arthur C. Clarke's "I

  • In my high school etymology class, we were given bonus points for finding in print examples of the obscure words we learned in class. I found the most by focusing on comic books. Supervillain vocabulary is replete with big words.
  • Comic books. I've always hated the name 'Graphic Novels'

    If we're gonna rename it they should be called 'Paper Cartoons'

    • by Eerikki (1045026)

      Why the hate? Are you afraid that somebody would *gasp* think of them as real literature?

      Yes, of course the 'Graphic Novels' are comics too, but all comics aren't graphic novels. A comic collecting newspaper strips from say, Calvin and Hobbes, is hardly a graphic novel. On the other hand comics such as Watchmen, Sandman or many others are clearly full independent 'long and complex narratives', 'graphic novels' if you like. Or do you feel the same way with the term 'Novel', when they could just as well be

  • We have a very long tradition of teaching kids to read by reading comic books here in Belgium. Generation have grown up with kid friendly comics like Jommeke [wikipedia.org] and Suske en Wiske [wikipedia.org] eventually graduating to more complex ones like the ever popular Tin Tin [wikipedia.org]. One common trope is to have a character with a confused manner of talking who is always being corrected which effectively shows kids how they should talk. They are also routinely used to teach foreign languages. I myself learned french using Suske En Wiske (Bob

  • The fact that reading comics promotes litteracy is pretty obvious to anyone living anywhere with a strong "comic book" culture such as Japan, South Korea or French-speaking countries. The problem is that most US comic books are not very good, and the good ones are not targeted as kids (mostly).

  • I've done it for years and my parents have picked up the habit as well. Here are some relevant links:

    An Article About Giving out Comics [aintitcool.com]

    Comics 4 Halloween [comicspace.com] - A promotional movement.
     

  • Imaginative stuff in the formative years is always good. Gets the brain going. For example, my parents were pretty cool and let me watch James Bond and kung fu films from a young age. By age 10 I could seduce sexy Russian double agents and break a man's spine with my fingertips. Ah, good times. :-)
  • I started my kids on comics when they were little to get them interested in reading and it worked. They still read comics along with plenty of other "serious" reading. Hell, my oldest had read the complete works of Shakespeare ON HER OWN before she was out of high school. Now she takes books on molecular biology along for light reading when she goes to cons.

    Setting, plot and character development, story arc, social interactions. Good vs Evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, freedom, oppression a

  • My wife's parents came to the US after the war (Holocaust survivors). They learned a great deal of their English by reading comic books.

    Can't say about her father's grasp of English (he's dead) but her mother's is pretty good.

  • It turns out not to be needed for our kid, who loves a bunch of different books, but I tried to motivate learning to read by nearly refusing to read him comics. That wasn't because I think they're bad, but because comics (once that use the medium well, at least) don't read aloud easily. As the reader, you constantly have to be deciding the chronology of which sounds/thoughts/voices come when, and whether to whisper, and when to say, "and Batman's thinking..." or whatever. And then you've got maybe a bunch o

  • I unfortunately never experienced comics as a kid. I remember being in a newsagent with my father at the age of four or five, and on seeing some comics there, asked my father about them. Dad was fairly conservative, at the time at least, and his response was along the lines that they were full of weird, potentially Satanic stuff, and that he didn't want me reading them. At the time of course, I was still sufficiently impressionable that my response was, "Yes, Dad," and for a long time, I never looked at

  • ...or they'll put comic books on the school curriculum, and no kid will ever want to read one again.

  • by cheros (223479) on Sunday November 08, 2009 @06:28AM (#30020492)

    My son didn't have cartoons, but he got addicted to a BBC programme called "Words & pictures" [bbc.co.uk] which was shown every morning (and we ended up religiously taping). This starts with describing letters ("e" - "eel, egg") and then draws them very explicitly on a whiteboard with a "magic marker" ("straight across and rouuund"), and the series gradually moves into paired characters and then eventually words. This interest started at age 2.5 or so, and after a totally worn out video recorder (for seeing things again), a mountain of scrapbooks (at first, one character was enough to fill a page) and half a paycheck on whiteboard markers (until we found the liquid filled ones that don't dry out) he was writing and reading at age 3.5. I had not realised he picked up pre-reading as well until I asked him to read ME a story, and it was too fluent for him to read that word by word. A few years later I noticed him speed reading as well, he seems to follow the diagonal method.

    All we did was give him the opportunity, the exposure. No pressure, just help if it didn't work or learning how to hold a pen properly and how to make letters the same size when fine motoric skills were up to it. I must admit I was a bit worried about how deep he got into this - on holidays, all it took was a pen and a notepad to keep him from getting bored. He seems to have my affinity for fast pattern recognition, maybe that helped - I remember having to slow him down so he switched from reading the words to understanding the sentence and its content.

    At his school there was another girl who'd done exactly the same, so they ended up reading the story of the nativity play that year together.

    Personally, if the BBC would put that series out on DVDs I would recommend this to any parent. Kids seem to pick things up at warp speed when they're ready for it and interested, just don't try to force it (especially when they're little - they will go to school soon enough). Most of the time exposing them to as many different things as possible and having fun with it is enough - if something resonates you'll know soon.

    Thank you BBC.

  • I think comics are excellent literature to learn reading. When I was a child, I had a lot of Donald Duck comics, which are popular in Denmark. I read them over and over again. Little by little, I understood the text better, and by the time I started in school I was able to read. Comics have the advantage that the text is guided by images, this means you can skip the parts that are too advanced for you and still get the overall story, and by repetition you can reduce the parts that you don't understand.
  • I used to read American comics when I was a little kid, today I have a masters in English Literature.
    I really find it hard to hate comics... although a broadly agree that about 98 percent of what is published is crap and nonsense. Sure it's functionally literate nonsense, but really, this is no different to all mainstream publishing.

    Both bad comics and bad books are good a creating functionally literate people if that is all you really want. I suspect quantity of action, which rises as a child finds mater

  • Over the summer before 1st grade, my son discovered some Yoko Tsuno lying around. He would beg us to read them to him. Now those are 30ish pages of serious story which take 20 minutes to go through, double that for reading aloud.

    After 10 minutes of reading aloud, mom or dad had their quota. That forced him to deal with most of the story by himself. By the end of the summer, he could read it all with ease.

    All this to say the image offers a context on which mom and dad's words are memorized. When you return t

  • From the base of what I learned at school, which was really pretty useless, this helped me to get to my current fluent level:
    - Slashdot! (No shit! This was an essential part. )
    - The Daily Show
    - US TV shows like Scrubs, Galactica, Prison Break, etc.
    - Other pages on the net that were in English only.
    I only used a (online) dictionary, when I could not understand it from the context.

    The result is, that I got a style that is closer to the native style, but sometimes have trouble translating words back in to my o

  • I was abruptly thrown into second grade of an American school at age 8 without knowing a word of English. My only language at that time was German. This was roughly 1956. Luckily, some aspects of American culture had already insiduously penetrated the German one—specifically, Walt Disney comic books. Thus, when I found a huge pile of comic books that the kindly American teacher had stashed in a closet in the back room, I realized that I had found my personal Rosetta Stone. I knew the form of this sort

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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