Is it good or appropriate for boys to read comics? Is reading comics really 'reading'? The debate continues with the Canadian Council on Learning weighing in with a report last month about the positive experience of kids reading comics. The report specifically notes: "Despite their controversial past, comics have become a pervasive and undeniable aspect of popular culture. It is clear that they appeal to younger readers—particularly boys—who are often resistant to reading."
The report, "More than just funny books: Comics and prose literacy for boys", observes that boys are interested in and read about different subjects than what are traditionally considered 'reading.' The authors write, "Boys also tend to prefer visual media, such as the internet, newspapers and magazines, that focus on sports, electronics and video games. Yet, while boys show clear preferences for specific reading material these genres and media are generally under-represented or even unavailable in school libraries, a reflection of the views of teachers and librarians who judge such material inappropriate."
The Carolina Online Journal, based in Charlotte, did a follow up report and found librarians who were dismissive of comics, and a few who understood their appeal. In the article that's published today, Hal Young also interviewed a psychologist who's concerned about the limited role models in comics when transferred to film while a special education teacher understood that comics are much broader in scope than they initially may appear. The teacher cited Max Axiom: Super Scientist comics as some that have particular appeal while also teaching about science.
It seems that the question continues of what constitutes 'real' or 'appropriate' reading. Yet, the problem remains that boys continue to lag behind girls in reading scores. Here are a few links on the difference in reading skills of boys and girls:
- Reading is for the boys (and girls)!
- 4th grade girls perform better than 4th grade boys in 2006 U.S. Dept of Education study
- A 2010 Center on Education Policy report found that "Boys lagged behind girls in reading in every state"
- And some ideas on helping boys become better readers, particularly in middle school
The curious debate about comic books continues as boys still struggle with reading and could benefit from looking at texts with images.
Thanks to Chester Comix for the link to the Carolina article.