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POW! Comic Books Punch Up Reading Abilities

Child reading a comic book on a coach

The Canadian Council on Learning recently published a report that says that comic books can help close the reading gender gap.

When it comes to reading, studies have shown repeatedly that boys trail behind girls. This is not a new idea. The gender gap in school success has been on educators’ radar for quite some time.

There are multitudes of resources that speak to the issue, and even websites that are geared just to help boys improve their reading performance in—and out of—the classroom.

According to the CCL, comic books are just the tool to spark boys’ interested in the written word. But just what is about comic books that hold boys’ attention? And, are comic books enough to help boys close the reading gap?

According to studies, comics appeal to boys’ more visual nature. The graphic images help to dynamically add dimension to the story. Even though the amount of space allotted for actual words is limited, the narrative is not hindered by a minimal word count.

A Science Daily article says that boys are not just looking at the pictures, and that comics impart the same benefits of reading any other books.

Websites such as Getting Boys To Read say that comic books are very important educational tools. Not only do they appeal to boy’s visual nature with bright images, and male-geared storylines, they teach literacy devices such as metaphor, tension, and tone.

But, in order for comic books to help boys close the reading gender gap, they have to be available and recognized as school-worthy reading material.

The facts are:
• Reading and literacy skills are critical to a successful education.
• During the early and middle school years, boys trail behind girls when it comes to reading.
• Boys tend to have a greater affinity toward comic books.
• Comic books can help boys increase their reading skills.

It’s important that the experience of reading comics is not too easy for readers, which is quite often the concern, given the limited text and the eye-catching images. Young readers need to be challenged to think actively about what they are reading, and to develop the skills needed for deep, sustained reading.

While gender differences in reading abilities exist, it’s important to not create gender-based reading stereotypes. Boys should never be told that they wouldn’t enjoy a text-only book, or girls that comics are just for boys. Reading skills are very individual, and either sex can defy gender-based learning challenges despite genetics(I.E. girls are bad at math; boys lag in reading), and become successful students.

Comic books in the classroom can provide a dynamic reading experience for girls and boys alike. And for boys who are lagging behind in their reading aptitudes, comic books could be just the ticket to spark a love of reading that helps them take the next step in their reading journey.

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