Parents and educators all encourage new and struggling readers to use quality books to improve their reading and comprehension skills. But the youngest readers often gravitate more towards books with pictures, comic books, or even graphic novels. While every child will need to increase their level of reading comprehension over time, discouraging them from enjoying comic books as part of their reading diet has become less popular in recent years. So, is utilizing a comic book part of a good reading improvement strategy for kids? Experts say yes. Let’s take a look at the many reasons a comic book benefits new or young readers.
It’s undeniable that the look of comic books is appealing to kids. With their bright colors, whimsical or cartoonish style, and punch of humor in the art, comics are tailor-made for what kids want to see in their books. Kids love to look at the silly, fun, exciting or outlandish characters and comic books have them in spades. The way comic books are laid out also hits a home run for kids, too. The pages typically are organized with multiple panels telling the story in a clear, visual order. Kids can also use the color and shape context clues to understand and enjoy the storylines of comics, further extending the visual appeal of comics to budding readers. Word bubbles deliver a lot of the dialog in comic books, which are a fun visual addition to comic books that kids love.
One of the biggest objections teachers and parents previously had against comic books is that students would not improve their reading skills with them. But the thinking has changed around using comic books to increase literacy, because comic books can also provide new readers with all of the same learning tools that traditional books have.
Sounding Out Words
One of the best comic book benefits is that kids can use them to learn phonemic characteristics. The book’s words and phrases can help young readers practice sounding out words and then use that knowledge in other reading materials. Comic books can be read aloud, too, and young readers can practice recognizing word and letter combinations easily with the dynamic dialogue and engaging storylines that will keep their attention while improving their literacy.
Well-written comics can provide a perfect training ground for kids to read new words and concepts while enjoying fun stories that they will love. Dialogue many times may be written in word bubbles, a fun visual inclusion that traditional books don’t have. Due to the visual nature of the dialog bubbles, kids can read the comic pages in any order which assists early readers by allowing them to first focus on what they know while still enjoying the excitement of the story. The visual nature of the comic book panels lets kids connect unfamiliar words to their meanings through the illustrations, too.
Comics often utilize fun and unique vocabulary like onomatopoeias that sound like the word they are describing, like wham! Crash! Or zing! New readers can learn to not only understand these colorful words but also to apply the pronunciation lessons to other new or creative word choices as well as use voice inflection to bring the words to life. Traditional books may provide limited exposure to these kid-friendly types of words, but most kids really respond to entertaining word choices when reading for the sheer pleasure of their unusual sounds and meanings.
Plenty of educationally-focused literature exists for kids learning to read, but there is nothing worse (in a kid’s opinion at least) than a boring book. And comic books are usually far from boring with their bright colors, fun stories, and creative characters. Kids love to read about zany characters that find themselves in unpredictable situations, and they can relate to comic book characters who look or act like a child at heart. Comics can keep kids engaged in reading by offering comic books as a part of their reading practice. They typically hold their attention well and help give some kids books with content and style that appeals to their age, maturity, and interests.
Another way a comic book benefits student engagement is through the exciting characters, storylines, and dialogue that are omnipresent in these types of books. Traditional literature may be a challenge for new readers to get through because they find it boring or difficult to read lengthy stories. But kids that are exposed to superheroes, fantastical plots, thrilling situations as well as bigger-than-life characters want to keep reading and get excited about the stories. The nature of comics makes them easy to get through and hold a young reader’s attention longer. This increased engagement allows kids to realize the other resulting benefits that can come with comic book reading.
Overall comprehension levels can rise with students who enjoy reading comic books. Kids are more likely to pay careful attention to stories and characters they like, so naturally their comprehension levels will rise along with their enjoyment of the comics. The way that comics are laid out with panels of content paired with short bursts of dialogue and text makes it easier for new readers to figure out what is going on in the story. Pictures also help reinforce storylines, characterizations, and literary elements that the author includes in the comic allowing for greater improvements in reading comprehension. Comics are also books that kids tend to read over and over as they are easier to read but are still full of rich content, well-developed characters, and exciting plot twists. And since kids tend to read them repeatedly, their comprehension will continue to deepen. Kids are more likely to understand more and more nuanced words and concepts that the authors have included within the comics as they read and re-read them, increasing their comprehension abilities that will transfer to reading other types of literature as well.
Unexpected Comic Book Benefits: Helping Kids That Learn Differently
Reading benefits for all types of kids are undeniable with comic books, even though their value has only been acknowledged academically in recent years. Parents can now see how reading anything, including comic books, is a good thing. But what parents and academics alike didn’t anticipate is the way that reading comic books benefits children with autism and dyslexia.
- Autism: Young readers on the autism spectrum can have a hard time seeing, anticipating, and understanding emotions in others. While not universal, it is a common challenge for many with autistic disorders. Comic books are an excellent way for kids with autism to read and see emotional cues in stories. Many comics use obvious expressions in character artwork and the story’s necessary brief text must be straightforward with ideas and concepts rather than using flowery language that young readers sometimes struggle to interpret. This directness often found in comics is just what some kids need to help them see and understand social and emotional cues that they struggle to anticipate or notice.
- Dyslexia: Children that experience a form of dyslexia may have challenges with understanding what they are reading because misreading the letters and not making sense of the words themselves are hallmarks of the disorder. Comic books provide a visual confirmation of the words and meanings on the page through the blocked style of the panels found in comics as well as the short chunks of text common in comics. Kids with dyslexia can interpret the emotions of characters on the page through the visuals as well as the text or dialogue. Students can learn about difficult or challenging topics in a comic book in a relatable, non-threatening way without having to struggle to read the text to learn or understand the ideas, too.
Comic Book Authorship
Have you ever considered writing a comic book? This style of book has been used across all genres and they cover silly, funny, and serious topics appropriate for kids of all ages. Working with a respected digital printer like Dazzle Printing can help you bring your comic book dreams to life with your own self-published book. Using a free comic book template can help writers get started putting their concepts into the right format for a successful comic book, too, since formatting a comic book is part of the appeal and what makes this genre of book so successful for young readers. But most importantly, becoming a comic book author ensures that even more young readers will have the opportunity to improve their own reading abilities and potentially foster a love for reading when they pick up your comics. If you’d like to see how much it would cost to print a comic book, check out our online pricing calculators.