Back in 2008, I wrote a post about subtitles helping my younger daughter to read. While the subtitles did help her reading improve, it didn’t do anything for her desire to read. She still preferred playing video games and watching DVDs (granted she did much of this with subtitles/closed captions on, just because I guess), but getting her to read was still a chore. We got her titles she showed interest in, but they never lasted. Then, something happened over the summer.
Maybe it started earlier than that, but over the summer, she seemed to do more reading. We had pulled out an old box of mystery books; Hardy Boys, The Boxcar Children, and Nancy Drew. She seemed to show some interest in Nancy Drew, so we gave her a few to read. That didn’t seem to last long though, which seems to prove with her the adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” No, she had to do it on her own, and she did in a way I didn’t think she would.
My older daughter was a fan of the Warriors series by Erin Hunter, and she had all the books out so far. We of course bought the manga that where made to go with the series. My youngest seemed to have some interest in the series as well, as she would go online to the official site and play the game there. But she never showed interest in reading the books, until this summer. I was surprised with the voracity at which she’s been reading them. She read through the first two series’ of 6 books each in the last two months. I was also proud at the comprehension scores she was getting on the tests about the books. She was consistently scoring higher than her normal. I wasn’t sure what had spurred her on, so I asked her outright, what made her want to read the novels? The manga was her reply. She had read the manga we had first, and that made her want to read the novels.
Now, you can take this with however much salt you want, and my daughter is far from normal (really far). But she has shown something that has mostly been speculated on. Even by me. I’ve been supportive of OEL adapations as a way of making manga more popular among the general population. And I’ve been using manga with my younger daughter to get her to read something. With so many other distractions, it seemed that she would never really take to reading like the rest of us in the family. But when she said to me, “Reading is really fun!” just this last week, I felt such a relief and some joy that she was finally seeing what we’ve been trying to show her! And it was an OEL adaptation that helped to show her.
If an OEL adaptation of a novel series can lead my weak-in-reading daughter to pick up a thick book that’s all words, then it can surely help a lot of other kids do the same. Whether it’s an adaption of the series like Twilight will be and Maximum Ride is, or side stories like Warriors and Vampire Kisses are, just helping kids to discover the joy of reading is a wonderful thing. It makes all the work going into it totally worth it.