Early Literacy Improved with Comics
Early literacy can be improved by comics, or graphic books. Graphic books can broaden children’s reading skills, and build a bridge to a wider variety of reading. Children of various ethnicities read the same comics. Perhaps this is because the text in comics relates to what all children think about and the action interests all children. The graphics in these books relate directly to the text. The children can picture the words that they are reading in their minds, and this is a helpful literacy tool.
I am a Caucasian volunteer in after-school programs that focus on literacy for children who live in poverty. Sometimes when volunteering I bring age appropriate graphic books, for early readers in grades K-3 or perhaps earlier. When the children have finished their homework, they look at or read these comics with enthusiasm.
Graphic books can be very entertaining and engaging for children. Many of the books available where I volunteer have been donated by middle-income Caucasian parents. These books may not be relevant to the life experience of African Americans, Hispanics or Asians. Sometimes I offer comics such Baby Mouse and Captain Underpants. The former appeals to younger girls. The latter appeals to many children, especially boys in the early grades. On the web, I have found the names of more graphic books that may be appropriate. Children may find these graphic books in public libraries in their schools or communities.
I have found some children seem sad when I ask them to read to me. Some say “I have never found a book that I liked”. To please me, but not really to learn, they sometimes read a book that is labeled #1 or #2 for beginning readers. But if I provide age-appropriate graphic books, they smile and laugh and tell me about similar ones they have read. Sometimes, if they are African American, they will branch out and read a culturally appropriate book such as “Salt in his Sneakers” about Michael Jordan, .
I am surprised that comics are so effective in engaging to many early readers. But I should not be surprised. I am 80 years old and I enjoyed reading many comics as a youngster. Also, my grandchildren read many graphic books early on, and they are excellent readers and writers today. I have found many other young people who began their reading with graphic books.