It all started when Winter went out with Grammy one afternoon to the thrift store in Skowhegan. He came back with a few little trinkets they’d found together, including a paperback copy of The Adventures of TinTin in America.
As a fan of quality classic literature like The Trumpet of the Swan and Moby Dick, I never really got into comics and I fully admit I didn’t understand all that comics bring to the table. Sharing the comic books with Winter widened my perception and allowed me to see the literary jewels that comic books are.
Winter was a ready-reader, and since he’s started reading the TinTin comics his reading ability has sky-rocketed. Just last fall Winter was reading Bob books; this spring he’s reading The Adventures of TinTin on the Black Island, as well as Mr. Putter and Tabby, and much more.
Comic books are extremely useful educational tools, and they are slowly becoming a respectable literary source in classrooms around the globe. Pairing visual and written plot-lines are especially helpful to struggling and reluctant readers. The vivid illustrations entice the readers to become literate, creative, and imaginative beings.
Boys in particular are drawn to comic books and graphic novels for a number of reasons. Often comic books relate adventure stories involving superheroes. They don’t shy away from violence, which appeals to a boy’s aggressive tendencies. Boys like the straight to-the-point dialogue. The vivid illustrations appeal to the more visual sex. And of coarse, comic books are so much “cooler” than novels, and boys find reading comics more socially acceptable.
There are a number of great comic book series out there. I’ve taken to reading the Fruits Baskets series for my own personal enjoyment, but for us it’s still largely focused on TinTin.
We recently discovered the TinTin cartoon series, which we watch through YouTube. I joined the TinTin Fanclub on Facebook after discovering their blog, and we’re all eagerly awaiting the release of the new TinTin movie next summer 2011.
Educators can utilize comic books in a variety of ways, but mainly I like to think of them as a gate-way book. With the main goal being to get the child reading, then, once he’s comfortable with literature, you can introduce a select few of the classics.
For more information regarding comic books and their place in education try these articles and resources: