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Comic Book Literacy Trailer, Yes Comics Can Be Used To Learn

We all know comics are important. Let's make sure the world does too.

I've always felt that comics were more than just a bunch of pretty pictures with stories about people fighting while wearing tights.  Being literate is an amazing ability.  Once you are able to read and write, you often take it for granted.  The sad truth is there are so many individuals that are not literate.  Why not use comics to help with this problem?  
 
Some of you may know that I was a high school math teacher for a while before the existence of Comic Vine.  While I did teach math, I spent a lot of time dealing with literacy as well.  I made my students read the textbook (a strange concept for some, reading a math book).  There were also the dreaded "word problems."  My students were required to answer those with a complete sentence.  Simply answering with a numeric answer want not enough for full credit, even if that number was the correct answer.  To help with the "newcomer" population, I had a stack of comic books in the back of my classroom.  Students were allowed to look at them if they finished their work or test early. They were also allowed to borrow them if they wanted.
 
What is "Comic Book Literacy"? 

Comic Book Literacy" is an independent documentary film that showcases the utilization of comic books to promote literacy and education.  Throughout the film educators, researchers, writers and artists give commentary in both an historic and contemporary context on a variety of subjects related to the topic.

Check out the trailer.  See how many creators you can name.
 
 
 
There was also an article published last week in the UK Telegraph that I've been meaning to mention.  In the article, researchers believe comic books are good for children's learning.  Again, this is something we've all known for some time.  Scientists from my home state, at the University of Illinois, claim that "reading any work successfully, including comics, requires more than just absorbing text."
 
Professor Carol Tilley from the department of library and information science said the following:

 A lot of the criticism of comics and comic books come from people who think that kids are just looking at the pictures and not putting them together with the words.

Some kids, yes. But you could easily make some of the same criticisms of picture books – that kids are just looking at pictures, and not at the words. 

You can read more about the research HERE.
 
What can you do about this?  If you ever have comics or books you don't want, see if you can donate them to a local school, library or hospital.  If you have any younger siblings, try giving them a child-friendly comic and read it with them.  My daughter learned to read earlier than most of her classmates.  While we didn't just sit and look at comics, she did love those moments and quickly felt the desire to try to read on her own.
 
For more information about the independent film, Comic Book Literacy, check out their website: www.comicbookliteracy.com.  Next time someone gives you a hard time about reading comics, now you have something to tell them.
28 Comments
Edited by Emperor Gonzo Noir

I actually got my old english teacher to admit that Sandman actually had substanial literary value
Posted by dc-kid21

this looks good

Posted by TheOmegaMan

Looks really cool. I love the idea of teaching litle ones to read with comics. I'm doing it now with my 5 year old. I've also learned to let him pick the comics he wants. If I get them for him he isn't always interested in my choices...!
Posted by Decept-O

Comics can be and have been useful in assisting people how to read.  I can recall getting out a dictionary because of words I'd read in a comic book that I didn't understand.  Hmm--vocabulary expansion.   I was also able to figure out the meaning of "big" words in said comics because of the way the story was written, along with the visuals provided.    

 
It is a pet peeve for me  to still encounter that mind-set that comic books are for kids and simpletons.  Perhaps I am a simpleton, that's open for debate.  Comic reading and collecting is a good hobby.  Better than being an alcoholic or drug user if you ask me, but then again---what do I know?
Posted by manbat

This is great. Im excited about all these comic-book documentaries coming out recently (Dig Comics, esp.)
 
I could name 0 creators...

Posted by aztek_the_lost
@Emperor Gonzo Noir said:
" I actually got my old english teacher to admit that Sandman actually had substanial literary value "
well that one is undeniable, A Midsummer Night's Dream won the award for Best Short Story or some title to that effect, and apparently the day afterwards it was declared comics were no longer eligible for the award 
 
Sandman FTW!
Moderator
Posted by Jotham

Interesting. However, I also could name no creators (although some did look familiar).

Posted by ClockworkDrago

lets face it most comics can and are accepted as actual literature look at watchmen, and even strangers and paradise, are well written books and should be accepted as literature

Posted by xerox_kitty

It's sweet that they're so passionate about the combination of art & text.  Getting kids to read has got to be a good thing, and with so many different genres, characters & teams in comics then it is an ideal format... But since the average age of your average comic fan has increased over the decades, then it's time that the publishers remembered their future audiences.

Moderator
Posted by King Quisling

Comics taught me to read. :) Well actually my brother saying "You can't touch my comics unless you know how to read." was what compelled me to read. Either way, I've never seen comics as a "ghetto media". In fact I probably wouldn't be so passionate about reading (Both comics and novels) if it wasn't for comics. 

Posted by Agent Buttons
Give the Gift of Literacy...good stuff
Posted by Nahero

yup thats how it is kids reading comic books as well as adults and everyones happy
Posted by Stormultt
@Nahero:
yea this will start something major and especially the marvel kids line will probably get more looked at to.
Posted by jamesericjoyner

I recognized Paul Dini, the writer from Batman: The Animated Series.  It's nice to have some big names on board for this.

Posted by Kid_Zombie

When I was a baby my father passed, and my mom raised me my sister and two brothers. Every night my brother was tasked with reading me books to go to sleep. His favorite thing to read to me? COMICS! I grew up with comics before i could read, and learned how to read with them. Ive always loved comics, and bought my neice her first comic last year for her birthday, (its was a high school musical comic, but hey what ever gets them into the medium ha ha) and now when I lay on my couch reading my comics she sits beside me and reads hers. It reminds me of when i grew up sitting beside my brother and reading his comics. I cant wait for the doc, it looks great, and hey, made me and many people here think of our childhood, so thanks for that also. 

have a good one all, cheers

Posted by spiderpigbart

I was read comics as a child. My cousin had literally every essential from Marvel. I now am an incredibly intelligent person. I thank comic books for this.

Posted by jakob187

Dood, your daughter is the s***.  You know that, right?  Also, the trailer was cool.  Interested to see it.

Posted by Namor1987

I learned to read from comics too because my dad used to take me to the comic store & get comics & I learned to read from that

Posted by Magick

I am so happy to see this!!!! It's good to know that some people actually appreciate the value that comic books have! I actually took my first steps using a comic book box to support myself. Comics defiantly helped me get into reading. When i was little little, my dad would read me super hero origins as bedtime stories. When i got a little older, he made me read all of the girl parts, while he read all of the guy parts. I simply had to get good at reading, if I wanted to know what happened to Cap in the next issue. :D

Posted by SilverZeo

I remember a fun Animanics Comic that talk about what to do during a hurricane and other disasters

Posted by Moomin123

This is a great idea. I wonder if kids would be able ti do book reports on comics? 
 
"Hello, I'm Mike and today, my book report is on Blackest Night: Superman, issues 1, 2 and 3."
Posted by G-Man
Staff
Posted by TheBug
@Decept-O said:
"Comics can be and have been useful in assisting people how to read.  I can recall getting out a dictionary because of words I'd read in a comic book that I didn't understand.  Hmm--vocabulary expansion.   I was also able to figure out the meaning of "big" words in said comics because of the way the story was written, along with the visuals provided.     It is a pet peeve for me  to still encounter that mind-set that comic books are for kids and simpletons.  Perhaps I am a simpleton, that's open for debate.  Comic reading and collecting is a good hobby.  Better than being an alcoholic or drug user if you ask me, but then again---what do I know? "

The funny thing is most comic book readers that I know are generally intelligent people. I've read many novels in school that were not as well written as some comics.
Posted by ToddKent

Thanks again for posting the trailer.  As for the creators featured in the trailer, here's a cheat sheet:
 
 James O'Barr - creator, "The Crow" ("Comic books have always been looked down upon...")

Paul Dini - writer/producer, "Batman: The Animated Series" and tons of comics ("Comics have really gotten a bum wrap.")

Art Spiegelman - creator, "Maus" ("Comics were seen as the barbarian horde...")

Terry Moore - creator, "Strangers in Paradise" & "Echo" ("So people need to update their opinions.")

Jim Salicrup - former Marvel editor & comic god ("Well what if we used comics...")

Scott McCloud - writer/artist, "Understanding Comics" ("Well you know I've always said...")

Françoise Mouly - The New Yorker Magazine & TOON Books ("The magic bullet is...")

Joe Quesada - EIC Marvel Comics ("And I think I learned much of my reading...")

Kat Amano - Beckett Comics ("They call it four color crack...")
 
And there are many more in the film that are not shown in the trailer.
 
Todd Kent
Producer/Director
Comic Book Literacy

Posted by HaloKing343

They've got some big names on that list.

Posted by Media_Master

Documentary sounds good.

Posted by jagged glass

I believe the researchers also said that comics were "legitimate" literature. 
 
In other news, scientists in Hawaii discover water is wet...
Posted by arrowfan237

Looks good.