How many times did your parents tell you to stop reading comic books or watching cartoons so you can read a “real book”? One researcher in Japan is telling parents to stop denying manga and anime to their children because he argues these media can help children with language comprehension and critical thinking.
Tama University professor Yuichi Higuchi wrote in a recent essay that manga is actually an invaluable tool for teaching children to read because it is eminently re-readable. Multiple readings help a child pick up on subtleties and nuances in a story that might otherwise be missed if material is read only once. Because of their visual nature, manga are more likely to be read multiple times than so-called “real books.”
Rachel Tackett caught wind of Higuchi’s endorsement of anime and manga on Japanese website Niconico News. In writing about Higuchi’s essay for RocketNews24, she conveys that while manga obviously presents some practice in reading written language, anime doesn’t convey the same sort of learning:
But what about anime? At least with manga, Japanese kids are getting in a bit of kanji practice, yeah? Anime uses pictures to convey its story, rather than writing. And yet, Professor Higuchi insists that anime also has ways of raising a child’s reading comprehension. The secret is providing discussion which leads to critical thinking. [Emphasis added by Tackett.]
Basically, Higuchi argues that anime builds critical thinking skills when parents engage children by asking the questions about the material they are viewing. Anime can also improve vocabulary and listening skills.
Ultimately — just like CBLDF — Higuchi believes that children should not be denied the right to partake in entertainment media that interest them, especially when such media can help them develop written and verbal language skills that will benefit them later in life.
Thanks to CBLDF member Jeffrey Rolek for bringing this to our attention.