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Hooray!  It’s the first Saturday in May and that means that it’s Free Comic Book Day.  It is the single day in the year where comic book shops around the world give away hordes of free comic books to anyone and everyone that come into their shops.  Everything from Archie to Guardians of the Galaxy will be available, as well as some previews that can be downloaded from www.freecomicbookday.com.

FCBD has always been a favorite of mine and even though I am not participating this year, I love seeing what everybody has gathered.  As an avid comic book reader I cannot press to you how important comics are for children and adults alike.  Comic books were one of the first forms of reading for me and it honestly pushed me to understand what I was reading.  I often hear parents at my library telling their children that they cannot borrow comics because it is not proper reading, and instead pressure them to read a chapter book that they are not interested in.  My head nearly pops off when I witness this because parents are actively stopping their children from doing the one thing they are attempting to get them to do-read!

It is a proven fact that children will attempt higher reading levels if they are interested in what they are reading.  According to Carol Tilley, University of Illinois professor of library and information science, “if reading is to lead to any meaningful knowledge or comprehension, readers must approach a text with an understanding of the relevant social, linguistic and cultural conventions.”  Tilley also says that comics are simply just another kind of literature because readers must comprehend how the pictures and words work together to tell a story; she argues that comics are no different from picture books.  You can find more on how Tilley defends comics here.

A lot has changed since the 1930s and today, with the complexity of current comics being far from the original comic strips found in newspapers or comic books that sold for 10 cents.  Many libraries have three separate comic book collections because the content for each is so vastly different.  My library, for example, has comic books with nudity, violence, and adult language that are only shelved in the adult collection.  In addition to this, many novels are being made into comic formats (also known as graphic novels).  George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat are just two novels that have made the conversion.  Find a short list with additional titles here.

This is why Free Comic Book Day is important to our country and to the world; like World Book Night, and other reading material giveaways, comic book shops are putting free books into the hands of children and adults alike.  I will tell you what I tell my library kids, “any reading is good reading.”