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To think this wave of cartoon/comic style books is awful.

47 replies

manicinsomniac · 02/07/2015 15:42

I had a library lesson with one of my classes today (Year 5, middle set) and 8 out of the 14 of them were reading one of either the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate or Tom Gates books.

Ugh, I cannot stand them. They do nothing to improve children's vocabulary, sentence structure or imagination and some of them (Captain Underpants for example) actually model spelling and grammar which is totally incorrect.

I wish our library would ban them. There's nothing wrong with the odd one as a bit of fun/relaxation but these type of books are a plague. They're everywhere and appear to be all some children would read if given the choice.

I'm thinking of putting a new rule on my classes that, for every one of these books they read (as their school reading book) they have to read one other 'proper' book.

AIBU and hopelessly out of touch?!

OP posts:
JacquesHammer · 02/07/2015 18:36


The only reason a child should be steered away from a particular book is if the content is widely inappropriate for their age.

E.G. my 8 year old COULD read Lolita. Doesn't mean its appropriate for her in terms of content/her understanding.

Otherwise I would never, EVER ban a child from a book

Nabuma · 02/07/2015 18:37

I see where you're coming from op. My son has always liked reading (almost to the detriment of enjoying other activities and social skills-so not a boast at all!) but since these books have become popular that's all he will read as they're fashionable. I had plans to introduce the hobbit, lotr, pratchett and it's just not happening ???? a few years age (7-8) he really enjoyed Mr Gum books. They are fun, have great illustrations and had dh and I and our ds laughing out loud but are importantly NOT dumbed down and have great vocab and funny plots. cashewnutty I studied Persopolis in my first year of my eng degree and it's of.great value. The massive difference though is that it invites huge discussion of a variety of themes-identity, race, religion, democracy, feminism amongst others. The format is less important, rather the ideas portrayed. Diary of a Wimpy Kid encourages no thought at all besides, "I hate my life, woe is me, it's soooo hard to be a kid etc etc"ad nauseum. piss when my son adopts this mindset.

TinklyLittleLaugh · 02/07/2015 18:43

My son loved his comics and was very slow to get into reading for himself; dabbled a bit with those series books, (Deltorra was the one of the time) and was happy for me to read aloud to him till he was in year 6.

But fast forward to A level and he was extremely miffed to find that while he slogged away at his sciences, English students were studying books he'd read for pleasure, (The Kiterunner was one I recall).

Year five is still very young.

FWIW I have just rediscovered comics, through George R Martin's Egg and Dunc series. I am very taken with them, the pictures add a whole new dimension.

Creatureofthenight · 02/07/2015 18:43

There is no quicker way to turn kids off reading than making them only read books that you deem 'proper'.
That said, there's no harm in encouraging them to try a wide range of books, but let it be their choice.
Use a 'proper' book when you read to the whole class, then they have all accessed it (and will hopefully enjoy it!).

Lavenderice · 02/07/2015 18:45

You want to ban books?!?!

Idontseeanydragons · 02/07/2015 18:48

Many books can be almost instantly boring to children, Tolkein's books are wonderful stories but the way they're written is pretty tedious - would anyone really try and get a year 5 child to try and read the Silmarrilion and stay awake? I can't finish the damn thing now and I'm nearly 40! DD1 is just getting into Pratchett now but prefers Jacqueline Wilson. Her reading tastes will grow and change when she gets older. For now I just like the fact that she reads.

manicinsomniac · 02/07/2015 21:35

Persopolis is rather different to Big nate/Wimpy Kid et al!!

those books are the equivalent of Cosmo, Marie Clare etc

Exactly, I agree. So, more suitable for relaxing with at home, no? Not having as your school reading book!

I'll accept the majority view though, IABU. There will be no requirement for my classes of read a proper book every time they read one of these. Evidently I am stuff and out of touch. But I still think they're crap! Grin

Lavenderice - from their own bookshelves? No. From the school library? Yes.

OP posts:
DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen · 02/07/2015 21:42

You're so out of touch OP, you need to get with the programmeWink

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen · 02/07/2015 21:45

I absolutely disagree with the books not triggering their imagination. One of the Wimpy Kid books is like a diary and you write and draw your own life. Ds LOVED it as did his mates. So it got them reading AND writing- can't complain really.

LadyPlumpington · 02/07/2015 21:48

I understand your frustration op but I think YWBU to ban anything. Those that want to expand their horizons will, those that don't won't.

I actually think the best thing you can do to encourage reading diversity is to have all the books in one place where they can be pored over - ideally all higgledy-piggledy so they can't just zoom in on their favourites and ignore the rest.

Hygge · 02/07/2015 22:00

If they are reading for pleasure then that's a bigger positive than anything else.

As they move on to high school they will have to read set texts, let them just enjoy having a choice now.

I volunteer at DS's school listening to Year 6 children read. They are of varying levels of ability but the enthusiasm from each and every one of them is outstanding. Some of the children who struggle the most to actually read the book still seem to get the most pleasure out of it. And yet if any one of them gets a book they just don't enjoy, the enthusiasm drops and so does any benefit from reading the book, even from the most able readers in the class.

Don't try to limit them based on your taste in books. Reading is about more than spelling and grammar, it's about imagination and joy and discovering something and finding what you love and what you loathe, and children who read for pleasure are said to be more empathic. If you stifle them now you might put them off forever.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen · 02/07/2015 22:01

What Hygge said x100Grin

F475LAG · 02/07/2015 22:22

My youngest son, who's 18, has Aspergers and ADHD and really, really struggled with reading and writing. He loved having books read to him but wouldn't read himself until when he was about 7 or 8 we discovered the Captain Underpants books. He fell utterly in love with them and read them over and over again. For the first time ever we had to confiscate them at bedtime otherwise he would read all night. It was wonderful. He then started drawing his own comic strip based on our three dogs. It was called Supa Dogs versus the Poo Peeple and he spent hours drawing it and writing the dialogue. I've still got it carefully filed away although I'm not one for keepsakes usually. It was a real turning point and from there he explored other funny books and then discovered Pratchett. He devoured all the Pratchett books and is now a voracious reader. All thanks to a stupid, badly spelled comic book.

hazeyjane · 03/07/2015 03:18

Tom Gates and Diary of A Wimpy Kid are great for dd2, she is 8 and dyslexic, the books the school give her are written very simply and the stories are frankly crap. The books she loves having read to her (by me or on audio book) are classics like The Borrowers, Roald Dahl etc, but she struggles to read them herself. Books like Tom Gates give her the freedom to enjoy books, the size of the text, the way it is written, the pictures all help. I have friends who say the same thing about their children who aren't dyslexic but who just struggle to get into books. They open a door and they are great.

By the way, Diary of a Wimpy kid, is very funny, I love reading them!

flora717 · 03/07/2015 04:53

I read the BFG as a child. Made up words have not affected my vocabulary. I also have a love for dialect poetry (with a mix of quirky grammar, phrases etc) and have done for some time. Should that be banned?

EastMidsMummy · 04/07/2015 12:29

You are being ignorant and unreasonable.

Talk of banning books. Talk of 'proper' books. It's a terrible attitude for a teacher to have.

Books to you appear to be a teaching resource, rather than a source of pleasure or an artform. You seem happy to suck all of the enjoyment out of reading.

You seem to believe that children should only like the kind of books you think they should like. I think it's great if teachers suggest, encourage and recommend books that they think their pupils will enjoy. But they should never ever discourage children from indulging in books they are enjoying. Will you be scouring the beaches of the Med this summer snatching airport novels from the hands of adults because you don't approve of them?

You're also ignorant in conflating comic-style / graphic books with bad books.

Stories that combine words and pictures have a long history and their own rules of grammar and narrative. They can be trash. But they can be art. Read Scott McLeod's Understanding Comics:The Invisible Art for details. (Warning: it's written in comic-book form. You might struggle.)

To dismiss an entire medium because you're not a fan of one strand of it is ridiculous.

Learning to comprehend this form has always been useful, if only to give access to the wealth of wonderful stories told in the form. Learning it today, when so much of the written content we come across (especially online) is integrated with pictures, infographics or animations is vital.

So, yes, ignorant and unreasonable.

FindoGask · 04/07/2015 15:07

I don't really have any experience of these types of books but I have always loved comics and still do. My bookshelves are also crammed with novels and loads of different types of non-fiction so my love of pictures as well as words hasn't held me back. Comics are a legitimate artform in their own right, they're not inferior, just different - and as others have said, anything that gets children engaged is fine by me.

mommyof23kids · 04/07/2015 15:20

I spent my primary school years reading books that were years below what I should have been reading. Now I look at my book case and see it's full of books about science, history, economics and realise it didn't matter what I read, just that I loved reading.

hackmum · 04/07/2015 15:27

YABU. Children like to read stuff that's entertaining. FWIW, I think the Diary of a wimpy kid books are clever and fun and rather well done.

When I was a child I used to read Mandy and Bunty and Jackie and Blue Jeans and all sorts of nonsense. But by the time I was 16 I was reading George Orwell and Jane Austen and DH Lawrence. One doesn't preclude the other.

Do you never read anything a bit trashy, OP?

YouTheCat · 04/07/2015 15:39

I have a year 4 reader who has struggled along, stuck at turquoise level for ages. I decided to change how I taught her as she was becoming disillusioned with reading. So out came the Horrid Henry books that I can't stand and she has blossomed. She's more confident. Her comprehension has improved and, most importantly, she is enjoying reading.

MrsGentlyBenevolent · 04/07/2015 15:55

Came here to say exactly what nobody said. Didn't hurt Dr Seuss' popularity either. And have you read Harry Potter? The story is good, but the writing is awful in parts, along with the nonsense language.

I can be pedantic about language at times, but there's a special joy in reading. It doesn't matter in what form it comes in, whether you read War and Peace, The Walking Dead comics or even just plain 'awful' books like Twilight (or 50 Shades of Grey if you're a 'grown up'. To be fair - that was unintentionally hilarious). Even if it's the back of cereal packets, that had me running late for school every day, if you find something you love reading, I don't think you should be put down for it.

ChoudeBruxelles · 04/07/2015 16:00

Yabu. Diary of a wimpy kids books are what has got ds reading by choice. It was like pulling teeth before he discovered them. He also likes Tom gates but is now willing to try other things - like Michael morpugo.

They're fun books without too much text on each page, which some kids can find daunting

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