Why comic books matter (and how to get one for free)

Baby's in black : Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles
Baby's in black : Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles
Baby's in black : Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles
Baby's in black : Astrid Kirchherr, Stuart Sutcliffe, and the Beatles

A parent takes their child to the library to find "good" books to read. Should the parent be dismayed when the child appears with a tall stack of comic books? Despite their reputation, you might be surprised to learn that comic books are a great way to make reading and learning fun for you and your child.

Here's why comic books matter:

  • Comic books introduce kids to the idea of reading for pleasure. Kids get excited about reading as they await the next installment of their favorite comic book. Evidence shows that this excitement transfers to other formats of literature. Enjoying comics sets kids up to be lifelong readers.
  • Comics help kids push their literacy skills to the max. Because comics support text with visual illustrations that give context clues, kids who read comics can actually read a full grade level higher than they normally would. This is contrary to the idea that comics are "dumbed down" versions of books. In fact, comics have been found to include vocabulary that is twice as complex than what's found in a typical chapter book. (See research by Stephen Krashen.)
  • The multimodal nature of comic books develops kids' ability to integrate visual and textual information to understand a layered but unified concept. This is an important 21st-century skill as technology makes multimodal interfaces more and more common.
  • Comic books often feature archetypal literary themes such as the battle between good and evil, the concept of the hero, finding inner strength and doing the right thing.
  • Kids who love comics often want to make their own and will begin writing comics themselves. Doing so teaches kids how to present information sequentially and how to support text with visual imagery.

So now that you know the benefits of comic books, why not enjoy one for free? May 3 is Free Comic Book Day and if you stop by Anythink York Street you can pick up a free comic book courtesy of I Want More Comics, while supplies last. If that's not enough, browse Anythink's great selection of comics to check out. You're sure to find something for everyone in the family. Here are some titles to get you started:

For kids:

For teens:

  • Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb - This intense book not only tells the story of the creation of the first atomic bomb but also examines the ethical, social and political consequences.
  • The Complete Persepolis - Hilarious and heartbreaking, this is a girl's story of growing up in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution.
  • Hikaru No Go - A boy finds a blood-stained game board and learns the ancient Asian game of Go from the ghost that haunts it.

For adults: