Saturday, August 16, 2008

Comic Books--A Small Rant

My brother cut his reading teeth on comic books Until he was ten, his entire allowance was spent on comic books. Among them were The Flash, Archie, Batman, Superman, Scrooge McDuck, the Disney family, and the Loony Tune gang. As soon as he got his allowance he would buy that week's quota of comic books, run home and plop down in the middle of the living room floor and read them all afternoon, entering a
hypnotic trance that closed off the real world. He'd hardly move a muscle except to turn the pages and reach for the next comic book. There were times my mother would be tempted to put a mirror to his mouth to make sure he was still alive.

He would spend the rest of the week rereading his new comics as well as those from previous weeks that still survived, longing for the next Thursday and his next allowance. He was mesmerized by the pictures; they led his captured eyes and mind to the words in the white verbal clouds that drifted around the characters' mouths.

He read his comic books on the living room rug, stomach down, chin resting on his cupped palms, balanced on his elbows. He read them on his bed, at times on his back
holding them high above him and at other times draped draped over a pillow. He read about his champions while eating his breakfast of champions. He hid them away and
read them secretively at school and lost a few that were discovered. He rolled them in his back pocket and took them with him wherever he went. He read them by the beam of a flashlight hidden under the covers way past his bedtime.

The covers fell off and, despite liberal applications of scotch tape, pages loosened themselves from their stapled anchors and soon disappeared. Remaining pages got torn. He read and reread them until they fell apart in his hands or were nothing but torn tatters.

Adults would sometimes scold him for reading comics. They called them trash. They ought to have encouraged him. Comics opened my brother's world and mind to other worlds and created an appetite to read. Soon he graduated to the Hardy Boys, and then Arthur Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells and Jack London.

I believe that children do need to read great works. Eventually. But first, get them to read! Get them to love reading. Read anything. I don't care what they read. It
can be non-fiction or westerns or ghost stories. It can be Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss or the sports section. I don't care. I just want them to read.

The only problem is how to get them started. A lot of people will argue that to do that isn't that simple. It IS that simple! Blitz them! Blitz them early and get
reading materials, any reading materials into their hands. They'll want to read about the things that matter the most to them and then they'll be readers for life. THAT is the way to make readers!

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