Admit it, you love technology and living in a world of mind-melting change and over-stimulation, right? We have social media, real-time video games, high def electronic screens and thousands of digital bits of information competing for a fraction of a second of our attention. It brings to mind the saying ‘trying to drink from a fire hose', and it has become our culture and way of life.
So, when it comes to our kids ingesting all of this data through their oh-so-precious eyeballs, are you looking for a way to pull them (and maybe yourself) out of the electronic muck? Perfect, I have a suggestion: comic books.
Why comic books? Well, as much as I'd like to say ‘because they're cool to look at and fun to read' and have you take my word for it, instead, I've compiled a short list of three reasons kids should read comic books. And in case you're a little curious about it yourself, keep in mind comic books are an all-ages activity… so don't hesitate to join the fun!
1. It gets kids reading (and learning)
As sneaky as it sounds, when a kid opens up a comic book, that generally means reading will take place, which in turn can build a better appreciation for reading. But there's more to it than that, in many cases, comic books feature language and words that are above the level of what a young person normally reads. Thus, they will get to add new words to their vocabulary which can aid in the development of reading and literacy skills. When they come across a word or phrase they don't understand, they will hopefully search and find an answer.
And then there are the stories. Though inspiring and fun, comic book storylines can be sophisticated enough to encourage deeper thinking and greater use of the imagination. And if you're curious about your what your kids are reading in comic books, pick up a title or two and read along with them; it's a great way to spend time together and creates unique topics for conversation.
2. It can help develop an appreciation for art
As much as comics are fun to read, the first thing that attracted me to them was the amazing artwork (I'm still a sucker for great comic book art… heck, I'll take a book with visuals over a book with just words any day).
Comic book artwork is beautiful, eye-catching, and perhaps most importantly it tells the story by setting the mood, creating the action, and displaying the emotion of the characters. As art comes in many forms, some of the most acclaimed (and sometimes undervalued) visual artists known have made their mark in the comic book world.
Like other visual artists, comic book artists vary in style and approach, and not everything looks like the old time ‘funnies' or newspaper comic strips.
To give you an example or if you'd like to go more in depth on this subject (though I hate to single out just one artist), here's a video on one of the greatest comic book artists ever, Jack Kirby, click here to watch.
3. It provides a break from electronic screens
Being in real estate I work from the office, home and in the field, thus I'm frequently staring at some sort of electronic device. That being the case I know it sounds hypocritical for me to say that kids probably spend too many hours with eyes glued to a screen.
In a culture where screens are the norm and having two or more screens in front of us at once (e.g. television and smartphone) is now becoming more of a norm, opening up and reading a comic book can focus attention on something that is not a screen.
I'd say that's a good thing.
Add to that, the comic book is light and portable, never needs to be charged, and unlike electronic devices may actually go up in value versus being outdated next year and ending up in a landfill.
And on that thought, a comic book if thrown in the trash (oh, perish the thought!) is biodegradable, where disposing of electronic gadgets will eventually have us living in a Disney/Pixar WALL-E type world. OK maybe that's a little extreme… but if it ever did happen, you can bet that the one with the most vintage comic books will be King!
Bonus reason #4 – It can help support local business
In a world of big-box chain stores and online mega-retailers, the ‘mom and pop' store is becoming more of a rarity. Most comic book/specialty stores are privately owned and operated. Now you may think it's odd that the store owners (you may even refer to them as ‘Geeks') love superheroes, sci-fi, monsters, and stuff like that. But keep in mind they are people like you and me who are making a living, and the money spent in their store helps them to eat, feed their family, and pay their employees.
If you've never been to a comic book store, pack up the kids and take a trip just for the fun of it; you'll experience an underappreciated and historical part of American culture.
So there you have it, 3 (+1) reasons kids should read comic books; it gets them reading, develops an appreciation for art, provides a break from electronic devices, and it can help support local business!
Oh, and I'll let you in on a little secret; if you want to get away without spending a dime, go on Free Comic Book Day which usually takes place in May, click here for more info. You can also check the discount bin; many comic book stores have major titles available for as little as one dollar.
If you're not quite ready to get your geek on at the local comic shop, or if you just want to get a better understanding and appreciation of comics in general, I suggest the book Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud. Click here to watch Scott's TED talk on comics.
Do you have an idea for a subject you want me to cover? Do you have a question you'd like me to answer? I'd love to help! Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org