Why Kids Need Comics

When it comes to reading you will be hard pressed to find a child that loves books. In all actuality there have been very few books that were able to capture the attention of the child audience. So if children are so picky when it comes to reading then why have we not given them alternatives. The thing is we have given it to them and most people just overlook it. I am, of course, talking about comic books. Comic books as we know them are an American invention and have been praised, condemned, and redeemed during their time. There are comics for people of every age and those who love every genre. So why is it that comics are still looked at as a “kid thing” or “a waste of time?”

Most children today have little to no attention span and most are not willing to read anything anymore. Honestly when was the last time you saw someone under the age of 14 reading a book. This should hardly come as a surprise, but why have kids stopped reading so much. Are schools no longer caring about what children read as long as they can pass their online “reading” course? From what I’ve seen this in nearly true. Most of the reading material is dull and simplistic, and some of the things they make children read today are not nearly as challenging compared to comic books. The good news is some schools have begun to take the next step and have incorporated comics into their curriculum.

But why are so many people against comics? I think they just misunderstand what comics do. The majority of people will tell you that comics are just for kids. Anyone that’s actually read them knows this isn’t true, but where does this stigma come from? It comes from that fact that comics have a long history of being marketed towards children. The thing is, when you look at the children who grew up reading comics, they typically have a reading level above that of your normal child. Comics are an excellent learning tool for several reasons. The manner of the words being broken into small groups make them more appealing and less daunting to new readers. When you add in beautiful artwork reading becomes an even more pleasant experience. Some people read comics solely because there’s art with the words. What kid do you know that wouldn’t prefer a good comic to a good book. Hell if some of my favorite books were made into comics, I might actually prefer to read them that way.

A study done by Allan Paivio showed that people who read something that contains pictures accompanying the written prose was more likely to be retained by the reader. There was a separate study done in 2001 by Jim Trelease that showed there are 5,000 rare words that we need to be exposed to in order to become more proficient readers. In your average adult novel these words appear 52 times for every 1,000 words printed. In comic books these words appear 53 times for every 1,000 words. That means these items designed for children make people better readers than your standard adult novel. The study didn’t even cover young adult novels so what does that say about those?

This can really be seen when you look around our planet. Finland has one of the highest literacy rate in the world and it’s no coincidence that comics are the number one choice of reading material for nine year-old children. It was this model that showed the world that comics are very important when it comes to the development of young minds. As more and more schools begin to incorporate comic books as part of their curriculum we will see an increase in literacy. So remember if you have children, get them comics instead of books when they’re young. This will make reading more enjoyable and will help them develop a strong vocabulary early on.