It’s well known that girls mature in terms of learning faster than boys and recent British state school results showed 76 per cent of boys reached the standard expected for their age in reading, compared with 85 per cent of girls. Canadian researchers have found similar results and that girls far prefer reading to boys. The report find this worrying saying;
Youth who do not enjoy reading are exposed to fewer written words than their normally progressing peers. This exposure normally allows children to develop reading fluency which, in turn, facilitates the development of reading comprehension. In contrast, lack of exposure to words compounds the reading deficits of struggling readers.
But the study from the Canadian Council on Learning demonstrated that boys with regular access to comics were more likely to read other texts, as well as higher levels of reading enjoyment overall. However, this conclusion has brought opposition.
Despite their popularity with young male readers, comic books are still considered unsuitable reading material by many educators and are often associated with poor quality, cheapness and disposability,
And the statistics should not only give the comics industry hope – but also challenge it to cater for the desires of young female readers.
According to the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation comic books are the second most popular reading choice for boys (after newspapers and magazines). During the elementary school years the proportion of boys who report reading comics rises from 69% to 75%, while the proportion among girls falls from 60% to 50%.
The report chooses to dimiss what it sees as myths bout comics;
Boys who read comic books regularly also tend to read more text-based material and report higher levels of overall reading enjoyment, compared to boys who do not read comic books. In fact, some evidence supports the idea that comic books provide a “gateway” to other literary genres. For example, some researchers have argued that the language of comic books can help young people make the transition from informal everyday language to formal written language.
Another popular myth is that the visual element of comic books makes them more suited to immature readers. In fact, comics can help readers develop a number of useful language and literacy skills. The extensive use of images in a comic book requires readers to develop two kinds of literacy: visual literacy and comics literacy.
So comics make boys read and enjoy more prose, they encourage the formalisation of language and encourage comprehension of complex and varied information. Wertham? Screw you.