Monday 22 January 2018

How comics can come to the rescue in the classroom

Recent international studies have revealed that comics are generally underutilised as a tool in teaching children reading skills. The Canadian Council on Learning has suggested that young boys underperform in reading achievement and don't enjoy reading as much as girls.

Their research has also shown that one reason for this is that the reading materials they like, such as comics, are not available in schools.

"It is clear that comics have become an undeniable and potentially powerful part of our society. Considering the evidence, it is time that educators and parents put aside any misgivings that they may have and embrace comics as a positive teaching and learning tool," says Dr Paul Cappon of the Canadian Council on Learning.

The Canadian government has responded to this problem by producing 'Me Read? No Way! A Practical Guide to Improving Boys' Literacy Skills'. According to this guide boys enjoy:

  • Books that make them laugh and that appeal to their sense of mischief.
  • Fiction, but preferably fiction that focuses on action more than emotions.
  • Books in a series, such as 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid', which provide boys with a sense of comfort and familiarity .
  • Comic books, sports cards and instruction manuals that aren't often available in the classroom.

One of the main reasons for the resurgence of magazines on this side of the Atlantic has been the successful tie-in with TV shows and movies.

The release of Disney's 'High School Musical' in 2008 with magazine tie-ins almost singlehandedly rejuvenated the genre. In the UK this market is now worth stg£90m (€106m).

The children's magazines sector has five sub-sectors: pre-school, pre-teen general, primary -- boys, primary -- general and primary -- girls, with pre-school the largest of the five. Overall the most popular magazine is 'The Simpsons' comic, which sells nearly 100,000 copies in the UK alone per issue.

According to a Marketforce analysis of the market, the success of these comics is dependent on keeping both kids and grown-ups happy.

"The sector is unique in its need to appeal to two generations -- both enthusiasm from the child and approval from the parent is required for success. Titles such as 'Peppa Pig' answer this brief perfectly, combining interesting characters with an educational element."

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