“Oh Bill, at least they’re *reading*…


The Mighty Thor, circa mid 70s or so

That’s what my grammie used to say to my grampie when he complained that instead of buying us comics, my grammie should buy us higher literature, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Dickens and Kipling. So, finally, at long last, scholarship bears out what my grammie knew all along…Comics appeal to the reluctant reader, and can help middle reader boys (ages 8-12) make reading a regular habit through the years when they’re most likely to give up reading for pleasure. Our public library director Greg Hill has started a program in the middle schools here called “guys read“. Adult male volunteers lug a data projector and laptop to different middle schools one day a week and read graphic novels to the boys during their lunch hour. It’s important, according to Greg, that the men learn how to read actively and keep the boys’ attention; he says some of the boys have even come in to the library to check the graphic novel / comic out to see what happens *before* it’s finished in school! I think it’s also great for the boys to see that it’s cool for men to be interested in reading. There have been a few studies undertaken by the American Library Association , Random House and others to bolster this claim, as well as a few well regarded librarian websites like “No flying, no tights” that old nerds like me use for age recommendations and purchasing decisions, but the acceptability of this idea in scholarly circles is very, very recent indeed. It’s just interesting to think that my grammie was way ahead of her time, at least in this. 🙂

Other links to follow:

Brodart has been extolling the appeal of graphic novels in libraries almost before any other publisher.

Librarians Gilles Poitras and Steve Raiteri have been reviewers, authors and advisors on graphic novels and anime for a long time, even before it was cool!

The Comics Journal and Drawn and Quarterly are probably the most scholarly journals I’ve read on comics and comic art; not necessarily useful for suggestions for reluctant readers, though. More of a adult source for criticism and review. Both are fairly “alternative.”


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