Literacy skills are among the most critical skill sets students can learn in school. Literacy often equates to a higher level of long-term success, making it essential for teachers to start teaching literacy skills early to foster student achievements in the future.
According to the most recent Department of Education statistics, 52% of U.S. adults perform within the bottom two literacy level markers. Only 31% of 8th graders in American schools read at the proficient level in 2022. With constant stimulation from screens and a never-ending stream of information, it can be difficult for kids to engage with longer texts, such as novels or articles, to improve literacy.
Some parents and teachers have turned to comic books and graphic novels to support literacy learning in children. Discover seven ways comic books can improve literacy skills to help facilitate success throughout a child’s life.
Reasons Why Comic Books Improve Reading Ability
Aside from offering readers engaging, dramatic storylines, comic books can serve an educational purpose for new or struggling readers. Research has found that comics and graphic novels support metacognitive reading and writing strategies, which helps students become aware of their thought processes regarding these essential literacy skills.
Comics support literacy learning in many ways, including the following:
Comic Books Are Easy to Read
Comic books are often fun and easy to read. The illustrative drawings, relatable characters, and easy-to-read language make comics a favorite way for children learning to read to hone their literacy skills.
Most elementary appropriate comic books, such as Tiny Titans or Nursery Rhyme Comics, use basic language to make the books accessible to as many people as possible. Sentences are also usually shorter in comic books than in other types of literature and are accompanied by vibrant pictures that help explain the text’s meaning.
This makes comics easier to follow and simplifies processing and comprehension for young minds.
Have a Clear Storyline
Many comic books and graphic novels deal with universal themes that readers of all ages can connect with. It acts as a hook to keep young readers interested and curious to continue improving their reading skills.
With generic and relatable plots, children from all backgrounds are less likely to quit reading comics midway through as they enjoy the storyline and character development process. This also encourages them to continue reading stories in book form instead of turning to a T.V. or a tablet.
Whether it’s the coming-of-age story of a teenage superhero or the heartwarming tale of a group of friends on a quest, teachers can find a comic book that appeals to their students to reach them more effectively.
The Addition of Graphics
Comic books use bright colors and bold designs to help create images in children’s heads. Even if students can’t yet read, they can get an idea of what is happening despite not understanding all the words.
Graphics in comics can include frames that move the story from one action to the next, different fonts for different speakers or to emphasize vocabulary, and illustrations that highlight characters, settings, and themes.
Graphics are beneficial for young readers who are developing their literacy skills. Comics help them connect visual aids to situations and emotions. For example, a graphic of a person cooking a meal could be used to explain the concept of measurements in fractions.
The Use of Dialogue
The use of dialogue helps the reader understand the story’s tone, imagine the characters’ body language, and follow the plot. Dialogue can also be used to create humor, convey emotion, and present the situation. By carefully choosing their words, comic creators can keep readers hooked on the story.
Additionally, dialogue can help readers improve their understanding of speech and language by visualizing through graphics, pauses, sounds, and non-verbalization clues. By reading comics, they can understand how different words are used in sentences and how to respond in certain conversations.
Dialogue helps children build their confidence and become more proficient in speaking English.
Comic books can be a powerful tool for learning and remembering new words. Comics may use repeated phrases, names, or exclamations, helping readers memorize meanings within the right context.
Illustrations in comics can provide valuable support for comprehending unknown words. For example, children can piece together the meaning of unfamiliar words within a text bubble by looking at the surrounding images.
Comics can also help teach children topic-specific vocabulary, depending on their age. The popular graphic novel Guts by Raina Telgemeier focuses on feelings like anxiety and fear, which can help readers understand words related to mental health. Social studies or history teachers could use Maus by Art Spiegelman to teach Holocaust-specific vocab to better understand the topic.
Encourage Independent Rereading to Build Fluency
Reluctant readers often struggle to engage with novels and other non-illustrated texts. For example, readers struggling in high school may feel that classic texts by Shakespeare or Jane Austen are inaccessible or irrelevant to the modern day, making reading and comprehending the story more challenging.
Comic books and graphic novels encourage readers to connect with the characters in the text through powerful visuals. These visuals and the accompanying dialogue propel the action forward, offering students a more dynamic reading experience. This makes it more likely that students will re-read the texts. Multiple exposures to the same text are critical for reading speed and fluency.
Help Students Understand Narrative Structure
Because of the power of structured imagination, humans have enjoyed stories even when there was no written text. Comics are a great way to visualize the flow of a story and can teach valuable lessons about pacing, character building, and plot tension.
The structure of comics is often more flexible than traditional narrations, allowing for more creative and innovative storytelling. It leads to understanding the basic principles of written and verbal language, making children better storytellers and communicators.
Print Your Comics with Comix Well Spring
As schools work to promote reading skills and improve literacy rates in America, many teachers create their own comics to supplement the existing curriculum. Teacher created comics can provide students with alternative ways to enjoy reading and learn different subject matter, improving literacy skills from an early age.
Comix Well Spring offers a simple printing process for fast, convenient, high-quality comic books. Whether you are creating a comic for the classroom or your child at home, our professional printing services can help you reach your goal and support your students or child’s reading skills.