My children love manga, and I keep them supplied with the latest Koro Koro comics, Nakayoshi, Ciao, Ribbon, and other popular titles. I love to see kids with books – even comic books. But I’m under the impression that Japanese parents consider them the literary equivalent of junk food. A few years ago, a deaf teacher talked to us parents about his upbringing. He said that his parents didn’t allow him to read manga. I guess they wanted him to master words, and thought that pictures were too much of a crutch. I was surprised by this. I’ve always thought that pictures helped my daughter to understand text, and because of the pictures, my daughter loves books and has a strong sense of story. I do wish that she would read more text, but I know that she reads some of it. Just as I discovered that she reads subtitles (at least in part) when she asked me to activate the subtitles on a kids’ DVD that she was watching. This may also explain why she likes to watch Mexican and Korean dramas (because they are subtitled).
I also credit the popular boys’ manga Koro Koro comics with teaching my son to read. Although up until a few months ago, I read to him in English just about every day, I never put any effort into teaching him to read in Japanese. Yet, he learned, and he loves to read – in Japanese.
I just had a look at the Library Journal’s latest list of suggested books for reluctant readers, which includes quite a few novels in graphic form. I think I might order some of those titles to get my son reading in English. And I think my daughter might learn something, too.