Teaching reading to children is a fine art. By the age of seven or eight, children are expected to be reading independently and applying phonics skills, inferencing, and plot sequencing. If they miss that window of opportunity, they risk being left behind. To prevent this from happening, teachers and parents are engaging readers in several different ways instead of just having one set approach. This could even include integrating comics to help your child’s literacy development as this can have many benefits.
- Engaging Readers
While many children have learned to phonetically sound out the names of superheroes, dinosaurs, or favorite characters while reading, others are not as interested in picking up a book. This points to one important piece of the reading puzzle. Engagement. Children can’t become readers and experience the benefits of reading if they aren’t actively practicing on a regular basis. The quick, active sentences and colorful images in comics allow a child to become part of the story. They’ll connect with the hero and feel driven to find out what happens. More importantly, they’ll retain what they’ve read.
- Sparking the Imagination
Like creative writing exercises, fantastical plots can pique your child’s interest and spark their natural imagination and creativity. Many comics borrow characters from epic stories, such as Hercules or Medusa, and bring them to life, sometimes with hidden teachings underlying the fun plots. Reading comics is highly visual, and you may notice your child developing the art of inferencing – a key literacy skill. In order to infer about a character, their motives, or the plot itself, children need to use pictures to make sense of a story. This skill is honed through comics, especially because comic book artists choose certain styles and colors to convey various moods or themes.
- Enhancing Expression
Silent reading, or “reading with your eyes” is often encouraged in classrooms. This can lead to a deficiency in fluency – or expression – while reading. Comic books often include opportunities for children to make sense of punctuation. Comics also use text features to help navigate the plot. Sound words, bold writing, italics and uppercase letters for emphasis are just a few of the expression clues comic books may help target for both high-performing and struggling students.
- Using Context-Clues
An important reading strategy for children to learn is the use of context clues. This means children should use surrounding clues in pictures or other parts of the text to decipher unknown or new vocabulary words. Comics are the perfect way to introduce and practice context-clues with students who already have good phonetic skills because comic book art helps tell the story.
- Building Confidence
As children learn to read, it is essential that they see themselves as readers. They may feel intimidated as they watch classmates graduate onto chapter books or longer reads that they aren’t quite ready for. Comic books and graphic novels can be a great compromise for parents and teachers in the classroom. They offer a larger-book format that can still contain a variety of reading levels to suit nearly any age and ability. This quickly builds confidence in reading.
- Making Reading Fun
Comics are experiencing a re-emergence mostly because they are fun and engaging. They allow children to explore age-appropriate material in a new and different format. Many comic books and graphic novels are enjoyed in hard-copy format or in e-reader format on a mobile phone and iPad — just make sure you have a kid-friendly case for protection. This leads to the camaraderie of sorts in classrooms and online forums as children discuss the hidden adventures of a lead character.
Ready to introduce your child into the world of comics? Try presenting an array of age-appropriate comics and graphic novels to your child and see what series or characters they are drawn to. Find comics at your local library or search online for some interesting reads in niche markets to suit your child’s interest.
Author Bio | Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She often covers developments in HR, communication, education, real estate, and finance, but also enjoys writing about travel, interiors, events, and pop culture.