Comic Books and Boys’ Literacy

     The timing couldn’t be better for Comic-Con 2010, those who love a good comic book, and those who find themselves constantly defending them. A new report by the Canadian Council on Learning says comics and graphic novels boost boys’ reading abilities.

     The study states what researchers have long held as true: girls are generally more inclined to read than boys and score higher in literacy tests. However, the researchers stress that may be due to the fact that boys’ reading choices aren’t represented in school libraries and classrooms.

     The study cites findings that comics were boys’ second most popular reading choice after newspapers and magazines, and the proportion of elementary school boys who read comics stood at 75 percent compared to girls’ 50 percent.

     Is this all to say that comics would improve boys’ reading? The report calls comics an effective gateway to reading novels. It also suggests that if boys’ reading choices aren’t represented in libraries (where most kids get their books), then those boys aren’t reading as much as they might otherwise, thus they’re lacking practice in reading. And we all know practice makes perfect.

     Of course, the counter argument is that the very reading of said comic books is what’s lowering boys’ reading capabilities; that comics are the junk food of literacy, and that if the kids were reading novels, their comprehension would improve.

     I’d venture to say that parents of reluctant readers are happy to see their children reading anything, be that comics or Herman Melville. Even parents of super readers will likely understand the occasional desire for a different, possibly lighter style of literature, say Batman over an aged classic.

     Let’s hope either method gets more kids reading.

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