An English educator who has written government literacy reports recommends comics such as THE BEANO and DANDY as tools to get boys to read, in a desperate bid to catch up with girls, who apparently soak up the books like a hoard of vast omnivorous sponges:

Mr Brown said that Japanese-style Manga comics were particularly popular. “There is a very fine Manga Shakespeare appearing play by play and if Macbeth turns up in this style it will be perfect for 9s to 11s,” he said.

Mr Brown, a retired head teacher, was speaking at the launch of a £5 million government scheme, Primary Boys into Books, to encourage more boys to read. Research shows that boys are ten percentage points behind girls in English at Key Stage 2 at the age of 11. Ministers hope that better reading habits among boys will help close the gender gap.

Via Down the Tubes which has more on the whole topic, and the Kids’ Comics blog.


  1. We’ve been using comics here to help in young offenders institutes for a few years, with regard to literacy.

    Personally, I look forward to the day when every scally in the country uses Dandy-esque phrases such as ‘cripes’ and ‘egads’.

    As for the Shakespeare, its’s not meant to be read, that’s your problem, it’s a play… and whilst I’m sure a comic-book adaptation will be closer (comics are closer to plays in many ways than standard text) it’s still missing the point that really schools should teach it as a play.

  2. I’m on the floor rolling with laughter.

    Will a future world of comics have girls the primary readers of comics with publishers scrambling to encourage boys to do so?

    Will young male creators not be able to get jobs because boys don’t read comics?

    Will we hear “Boys can’t draw comics?”

    I am going to show this to Colleen Doran who will think she has awakened in an alternate universe.

  3. Publishers have been scrambling to figure out how to get more boys to read (the books they publish) ever since I was knee-high to an editorial assistant’s eye. Occasionally someone pipes up and cautiously suggests, “maybe boys do diffrerent things at that stage of development while girls experience the world through reading,” or, safer, “maybe boys read other things.” It would be posited that boys were off reading sports stats and… er… well… comics. Which… er… we didn’t want them reading instead of “real” books.

    I’ll happily keep feeding comics to boys OR those pesky girls who keep spoiling things by reading everything. But I have to sigh at the same-old push to make books more boy-friendly as a way to close this gap at that particular age group. You’d think someone would have cracked the secret by now.

  4. I seem to remember that some librarians back in Wertham’s time advocated getting boys off of bad adventure-comics by trying to persuade that audience to read classic prose adventures.

  5. Katherine F., I second your recommendation, my eleven year old was sceptical when I bought him a subscription for The DFC for his birthday but after four issues he was thanking me for doing so. It’s cool apparently.

    My husband and I like it too particularly Spider Moon.