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Reading is Good!

Why comics belong in the classroom

With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Comic book reading is real reading

On a November day in 1957 I found myself standing in front of Miss Grosier’s first grade class in Hillcrest Elementary School, trying to think of a really good word. She had us playing this game in which each kid had to offer up a word to the class, and for every classmate who couldn’t spell your word, you got a point—provided of course that you could spell the word. Whoever got the most points received the coveted gold star.

 

“Bouillabaisse,” I said, finally.

 

“You don’t even know what that is,” Miss Grosier scolded.

 

“It’s fish soup.”

 

“You can’t spell that.”

 

“Can too.”

 

“Come here. Write it,” She demanded.

 

I wrote it. She looked it up, and admitted that is was, indeed correct.

 

Easiest gold star I ever won. And right here, right now, I’d like to thank, albeit somewhat belatedly, whoever wrote the Donald Duck comic book in which I found the word bouillabaisse. Also, I’d like to thank my mother who read me that comic book and so many others when I was four and five…. I learned to read from those session long before I started school. While most of my classmates were struggling with See Spot Run, I was reading Superman. I knew what indestructible meant, could spell it, and would have cold-bloodedly used it to win another gold star if I hadn’t been banned from competition after bouillabaisse. 

 

Jim Shooter, as quoted in The Power of Reading by Stephen Krashen

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