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A Comical Education

Unknown Thursday, July 7, 2011 ,
First off, what is a comic? And why is it different from a graphic novel?

Let's start with the obvious: what unites a comic and a graphic novel is the fact that both tell their stories primarily through sequential illustrations and text. Yet, whereas graphic novels tend to cover one story in its entirety, comics tell only part of a story. Physically, comics tend to be thinner than graphic novels that are more similar to books.

Secondly, why so much interest in comics by a parenting magazine? The answer is rather simple: they can be of huge help to any parent, but in particular to those whose children struggle to read.

For a good number of children reading is a chore, something that they are forced to do as part of their studies. Eventually, they come to dread the prospect of being faced with a book in which there is page after page full of text. When that child suffers from ADHD, then reading can become next to impossible.

Comics take out that tedium. Details of what is going on are portrayed through the images rather than words and this adds vivacity to the act of reading. They can enjoy not only the story but also lose themselves in the drawings, their colours, the details in the background, the expressions on the character’s faces.

There is also the psychological element that plays a huge part. Traditional literature relies on words to explain what is happening and this can mean drawn out paragraphs which can require a significant effort to get through. If you’re someone who doesn’t like to read, this can seem like torture.

But when you’re faced with a comic you can easily read through a page and this boosts your morale: the faster you go through a page, the more encouraged you are to keep on reading.

The lesson here, however, isn’t that kids reading of traditional novels should be scrapped in favour of comics. What it does mean is that children should be taught to enjoy reading if we really expect them to keep on reading for the fun of it, rather than because they have to. And comics are an excellent way to achieve this.

For additional information about why comics can be of help and for recommendations as to which graphic novels to buy, visit Graphic Classroom


This article originally appeared in the Summer 2011 issue of Growing Up in Malta magazine.

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