I Just Realized Why Books With Pictures Are So Great for Kids

Graphic novels, comic books and kids’ books with too many pictures are given a bad rap.  But a surprising new study shows that we are wrong to worry. (Not that I was worried).

Parents are often in a rush to get their kids away from comics and over to “proper” books.

But now, thanks to a study by Dr. John Hutton, and a report in NPR the pressure is off parents to try get kids to read “serious” books before they are ready and willing.

You see, as it turns out, books with pictures are actually the optimal reading format for young brains.

When children could see illustrations, language-network activity dropped a bit compared to the audio condition. Instead of only paying attention to the words, Hutton says, the children’s understanding of the story was “scaffolded” by having the images as clues.


Most importantly, in the illustrated book condition, researchers saw increased connectivity between — and among — all the networks they were looking at: visual perception, imagery, default mode and language.

My son has been having a blast recently reading Max Brallier’s Last Kids on Earth series, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and Donald Duck comics (Donald Duck is a cultural landmark in Iceland, and there are piles of issues in most homes).

As much as I wanted him to read The Hobbit or Harry Potter, I am now fully convinced that he should continue reading picture books as long as he wants to.

Not only that, but I am going to encourage him from now on to read any comic or graphic novel he wants.

Here’s a page from a Wimpy Kid book. My son just tears through these.

After reading the NPR article and the study itself, I really recommend you keep your kids reading picture books for as long as possible.

This is also, come to think of it, probably the best way to teach foreign languages.

At the very least, I’m going to buying a lot more comics for my kids.

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