|A tiny sample of my comic book and graphic novel collection.
Wonder Woman fans, I highly suggest A League of One. I
also enjoyed Origin, which is part of Wolverine’s
origin story. Gorgeous art and great stories.
When I was growing up, fiction was my refuge. Part of why I picked up reading skills the way I did was because sitting in a tree or hiding in a corner with a book gave me a way to decompress, read without being judged and escape for a while. Those stories gave my imagination a point from which to leap into solving real world problems.
When I hit my teens, I started reading comics. The fusion of art and text fascinated me, and I found the stories easier to absorb. I identified strongly with some of the characters, the X-Men and TMNT in particular.
They were different, often discounted as less than human and isolated, just as I had felt for a very long time. Their stories, strength and struggle helped inspire me to fight my own demons, so I could find my place in an often uncaring world.
I still love comics, though I don’t read them as often as I used to. I usually pick up graphic novels instead of individual comics these days, but they still have a special place in my heart.
Although I had a much easier time reading comics than traditional books, I hadn’t realized the ease may have been rooted in the way dyslexia impacts my reading proficiency until I discovered articles about that topic. Comics 4 Change has a short article addressing the issue here.
It makes sense. The pictorial scenes cut out some of the complicated prose some authors use to describe the details, so a young dyslexic can capture aspects of the stories otherwise lost in the strain reading brings. Well done pictures also offer hints to what the characters may be saying or thinking. Those aspects make comprehending the actual text a little easier, even if the student may struggle at first with the individual words.
There’s a huge variety of comics out there, too, which ensures there’s probably a group of characters, story arc or universe for everyone. Combine that with the format custom made for visual thinking, and you have a medium many students can enjoy while honing their reading skills.
Now that I think about it, the lettering is usually dyslexic friendly. Most in story-dialogue and text is written in upper case, which gives each letter a unique shape. That, combined with the spacing and relatively sparse word grouping, makes them far easier for the dyslexic brain to process.
Strong stories, beautiful artwork and easy to follow formats all cater to the strengths that come with dyslexia. By capitalizing on these factors, dyslexic weaknesses may be addressed in a somewhat less painful fashion.
While I wouldn’t say teachers and students should rely on comics exclusively, I do think they’re a great supplement. The best way to get people to learn anything is to capture their interest, and comics tend to do that very well.
As with all things, comics aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked as a learning tool early on. Who knows? It may turn into a life long passion or even a career.