The advantages and potential of comics and graphic novels to promote reading development.

Popeye Tintin

The advantages and potential of comics and graphic novels to promote reading development.

According to Josué Llull (2014:41)a comic can be described as a graphic story that integrates both iconic and literary codes in a narrative or chronological sequence through the combination of pictures, texts and signs. 

Comics are usually thin paper booklets bound with staples. There are four different types of materials under the heading of comics, namely: cartoons, comic strips, comic books and graphic novels (Baker, 2011:12). 

The English-speaking tradition mainly focuses on the idea of the graphic novel which is a sequence of consecutive images to recount a story.(Lull, 2014:40-61). 

A graphic novel:

  • is a paperback or hardcover book consisting of work in comic-book form (Raiteri, 2002:148)
  • includes book-length stories,
  • collections of stories and
  • works of fiction or non-fiction
  • and is written for all different age groups (Snowball, 2007:1). 

With their bright colors and familiar characters, comics are more appealing than traditional text. The comic represents something different and exciting without sacrificing plot, vocabulary, and other important components of reading comprehension. 

Comics could be an educational aid to:

  • students who may be intimidated by the amount of text found in traditional books
  • students who may be quite capable of reading each word but are unable to comprehend the themes, plots, or characterization in the story (Baker, 2011:12-23)
  • foster more effective student engagement in the teaching-learning process because comics have an almost magnetic attraction (Lull, 2014:40-61)
  • students because of the interrelation of appealing pictures, short texts and point-blank signs which makes comics entertaining and easy to read (Lull, 2014:40-61). 

Comics could increase:

  • imagination,
  • emotional intelligence,
  • empathy
  • critical thinking. 

Comics are used:

  • to develop reading skills
  • to prevent students’ fear of books
  • and to introduce them to the field of serious literature.
  • for narrative and descriptive techniques,
  • dialogue sequences,
  • vocabulary
  • and idioms teaching (Lull, 2014:40-61). 

Gene Yang (2006) summarized the strengths of comics as an educational tool by highlighting five characteristics: 

  • Motivating: The most positive benefit of comics is their capacity to stimulate students for many subjects. As has been proved by many researchers, the students can learn in an easier, more fun and interesting way when using comics.
  • Visual: Being a pictorial medium, comics have an advantage over other teaching materials because the content is more easily achieved when illustrated. Putting a human face on a given topic provides an emotional connection between that one and the students. Besides, visual learning is on the trend towards teaching to multiple intelligences as accepted by educators today.
  • Permanent: This feature concerns the idea of how in comics, the language and visuals remain static, whereas they are fleeting in films and animation. With comic books, the passage of time and assimilation of information progress as fast as the reader moves his eyes across the page. This visual permanence can be especially useful for reinforcement.
  • Intermediary: Yang says that comics can serve as an intermediate step to difficult contents, principally for students who do not enjoy reading. Working on comics may be the starting point to reach posterior critical thinking tasks or also to deal with higher topics.
  •  Popular: As comics are a prominent expression of contemporary culture, it is a good idea to incorporate them into a syllabus.


Baker, A. 2011. Using comics to improve literacy in English language learners. MA Thesis. Missouri: University of Central Missouri. 

Llull, J. 2014. Comics and CLIL: Producing quality output in social sciences with Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. Latin American Journal of Content and Language Integrated Learning(2):40–65. 

Raiteri, S. 2002. Graphic novels. Library Journal, 127 (14):148. 

Snowball, C. 2007. Researching Graphic Novels and Their Teenage Readers. LIBRES Library and Information Science Research Electronic Journal, 17 (1):1. 

Yang, G. (2006). Comics in education. Retrieved from



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