Why comic books aren’t so terrible for kids

Bumped into this comment on a Waldorf-related mailing list from someone writing in, anxious about the fact that her son enjoyed reading comic books rather than “real books”:
“What he DOES seem interested in (here we go, collective groan everyone) is the Sunday comics.”
There’s no reason for a collective groan about the Sunday comics, in my opinion. We all enjoy the comics in my house and I have a shelf full of Calvin and Hobbes, Baby Blues, Tintin and various Beano and Dandy (UK) Annuals. In fact, I’m personally quite a fan of this form of artwork and story telling and have always loved the Tintin series and read just about all the major “strips” on a daily basis since I first learned how to read.

My experience is that my daughter A-, (just turning 9, in 3rd grade) read through all of them as her reading skills improved and has now progressed right into the Magic Treehouse, Nancy Drew, and various other all-text books without a hiccup or problem.
Indeed, she’s a voracious reader, reminding me of myself at her age, and it’s not uncommon for her to be laying on her bed or on the couch, completely immersed in one book or another. I’ve seen her read an entire Magic Treehouse book without even taking a breath (as far as I can see)!
Back to comics…
As long as the storylines aren’t incompatible with your values, I’d suggest that there’s really nothing to worry about at all. If they are inappropriate, I think that Tintin and Asterix are both terrific, funny, engaging, and complex stories that can definitely hold the attention of both children and adults who like this particular genre and artform.
If your’e looking for a gift, then it’s worth knowing that there are also some nice “three in one” books in the Tintin series that make a terrific gift, offering three full (64 page) stories for about $12 each at Amazon.com, at least. I bought these for my kids after they started damaging my Tintin originals.
Here’s a Web site so you can learn more about Tintin: Tintin On The Web and another for Asterix: The Official Asterix Site.
Hope that’s helpful!

2 comments on “Why comic books aren’t so terrible for kids

  1. This reminds me of a story my dad tells me about my uncle. My uncle was competing in the state spelling bee. He came in second when he missed the word “rhapsody”. On the way back from the competition, one of my grandparents was telling him that if he would just read more “real” literature (as opposed to his comics) he would have gotten that one right.
    As luck would have it, Schroeder was playing a *rhapsody* that day in the Peanuts comic. So much for the value of “real” literature. 😉

  2. I remember being into comic books when I was a kid – Richie Rich, Archie, Batman, Superman – and I think I turned out pretty good. I majored in English and my seven-year-old is reading at a pretty good clip himself. Of course I excercise discretion over the content of what he reads, but I have no problem with him diving in to a pile of Calvin and Hobbs, Peanuts or classic Harvey comics at all.

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