Struggling to get children to pick up a book? Comic books and graphic novels might be the key to boosting literacy in youngsters, particularly boys, say researchers – and now Scotland’s newest superhero, Saltire, is joining efforts to encourage reading.
Comics are gaining a new respect in education, with researchers and literacy experts across the globe making a strong argument for graphic story telling within the teaching environment. Often aimed at struggling readers, comic books are typically packed with action and adventure, featuring dynamic characters and engaging language.
Now Diamondsteel Comics, the team behind the Scottish superhero, Saltire, have launched their series on the school eBook system for the new academic year.
“Comics are intriguing to children not because they are simple, but because they are dynamic,” says Dr Chris Murray, a comics expert and head of English at the University of Dundee. “Not only do they tell exciting adventure stories, but because the individual panels show only fragments of the action, readers have to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. This engages children, and challenges them.”
Emergent readers and older children, who struggle with literacy, are finding comics a great confidence-builder. Series creator John Ferguson says “We are delighted to see the books enter the education system and see graphic novels as an excellent gateway to literacy for a new generation.
“This is dramatic and dynamic storytelling with action and superheroes at its core. It interweaves Scottish mythology and history with superhero dynamics. It’s going to engage the attention of children across a wide spectrum of reading abilities.”
The hugely successful Saltire series has been translated into Gaelic and Scots language, prompting an Arts and Culture award nomination for promotion of native languages.
Ferguson is enthusiastic about this direction for his graphic novels.
“We hope to make the Saltire series easily accessible to young Gaelic speakers and encourage more Scots language education through such a modern and popular medium.”
Saltire will join an extensive collection of literature on the RM eBooks system, available in all Scottish schools and for use within their eBook library.