Comics as a Gateway Drug

Art Spiegelman famously said, “Comics are a gateway drug to literacy.”  I can attest to this as it seems my daughter is hooked.

Embarrassingly, it all started because one day I was too busy to read to her when she asked for a story.  Being a resourceful sort of parent, I set her up on my computer with the TOON Books web site, where she could have the stories read to her. I could do my thing, and she could do hers. It quickly became her favorite place on the web (overtaking the #1 spot long occupied by PBS Kids). There are only a handful of stories, but she happily “reads” them again and again.

On a recent Saturday afternoon at the library, she was positively delighted to discover the TOON Books are “real books too” when she happened upon Stinky by Eleanor Davis.  We took a Benny and Penny book home that day, and I put the soon-to-be published Benny and Penny in Lights Out on hold for her.  My daughter has loved books since she was tiny, but I’ve never seen her so excited about them until these comics.  You want to know the best part of being a parent? Watching your child find something they love.  Best thing ever.

Connecting with these books has Ladybug drawing and writing more. She is making up stories and putting on puppet shows based on the characters she loves.  These books have inspired a theatrical storytelling from my four-year-old that is kind of exhausting but mostly awesome. She is currently of the opinion that all books should be read very dramatically with different voices for each character.  She’s happy to play Penny in any reading of a Benny and Penny book.  She recites from memory of course. :)

My daughter’s entry in our library’s summer reading program illustrates Benny and Penny in the Toy Breaker.

Since I’m now the graphic novel guru in my office (or I try to be anyway since our real Graphic Novel Guru left us for another job) this TOON into Reading guide landed on my desk.  If I was ever in doubt of the value of comics before, I certainly have been won over to them now.

The activities page in TOON into Reading with my daughter’s comic.

Now if you will excuse me, my daughter is about to put on a puppet show with her Benny and Penny popsicle stick puppets.  I don’t want to miss it.

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Author: Mindy R

I'm a librarian, writer, book reviewer, etc.

One thought on “Comics as a Gateway Drug”

  1. Thank you so much for linking to this toon site! I love it! I’m going to request some of these from my library right away. My daughter will gobble them up.

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