Comics won’t rot young minds
Picture books help children develop literacy,
academic decide, so there’s no need for parents to prohibit
Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse have
been rehabilitated by German educational experts who have
found that comics are not so bad after all in positively
influencing the reading habits of children.
“There is no evidence of the common
prejudice against comics,” says Bodo Franzmann of the
German Reading Association. “It is quite normal for
children to look at comics when they are still too young
He argues that the combination of
image and short text in a comic is ideal for children
learning to read and “does not deter them from reading at
a later stage”. Even teenagers who still read comics need
not be losers. The debate for and against comics 20 years
ago is no longer an issue, says Franzmann.
A similar view is held by Dieter
Schormann, chairman of the Association of German Book
Trade in Frankfurt. “When I was five years old I had my
first Mickey Mouse comic. My parents were not amused,” he
recalls. “Parents today need not be concerned,” Schormann
says. “Comics are now passed from generation to generation
and we have not seen any signs that text is becoming more
An expert in children’s literature,
Simone Leinkauf, says “if children want comics it is no
problem. Many eight-year olds in this way learn to read
The principle of combining pictures
with words is common among publishers of children’s books.
“Children first look at the pictures and then at the
words,” says Lena Schaegel of Ars edition books in Munich,
explaining why in some of her company’s books single words
are placed with pictures in helping children learning to
Reading researcher Franzmann says
this is an ideal way of training. But there are huge
quality differences between comics.
An expert on children’s literature
at the Carl-von-Ossietzky University in Oldenburg, Joerg
Steitz-Kallenbach, says: “Some have really complex text
while in the others the dialogue is very flat.”
Leinkauf says some picture stories
have subtle hints that are not understood by the children
“but that does not mean that the children do not find them
fascinating”. The stories of Asterix and his Gallic
friends are eagerly ready by both the children and adults,
who may interpret them differently.
Franzmann does recommend that adults
should monitor what comics their children read. Some
Japanese mange comics, he says, should not be read by
teenagers because of their violent picture content.
Violence should generally be a taboo, says Simone Leinkauf
“but that is a problem not just found in comics but in
media in general”.
Courtesy Deutsche Presse-Agentur