Saturday, May 4, 2013

Free Comic Book Saturday

Just One More Book
Today marks the annual Free Comic Book Day celebrated at comic book stores everywhere. As a comic book geek I love this day. Now I have come to love this day because it afforded me the opportunity to introduce the greatness of comics to my nephew and niece. Some of my fondest memories with my son Kevin are those of taking him to the comic book store or the book store. He knew how to play me. What father is going to tell their son they can't have "just one more book?"

Parents Who Read
One other reason I like this day is because I know that comics played a large role in me becoming a life long reader. My mother fostered that early by giving me comics and later by sharing her books. Stacey and I have passed that on to our children. Now Kevin is grown and married, but one of his prized possessions is his library of books. Without knowing it, Stacey and I were arming our children with some of the most important tools in developing early reading skills - children seeing their parents read and reading with their parents.

Early Childhood Literacy
A recent early childhood literacy study conducted by Harvard University concluded "young children exposed to lots of early reading began talking more and showing an interest in books that provoked further shared reading with the parent and, in turn, the momentum for additional cognitive and vocabulary growth" (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Science Briefs: The Effects of Early Reading with Parents on Developing Literacy Skills, 2007). The flip side of this is that "the absence of early literary stimulation is the harbinger of sustained educational difficulties" (Jumpstart, 2009).

Vatican II & Parental Obligations
The Second Vatican Council teaches parents "that marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the begetting and education of children."  Furthermore, the Council instructed parents that they “should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those [to] whom it has been transmitted” (Gaudium et Spes, 50).

A Canonist's View
According to Benedict Nguyen, who is a Canon lawyer and my Canon Law professor at Ave Maria University:
In its Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis (GE) 3, the Vatican Council also forcefully reminds parents of this natural-law right and obligation to educate their children, teaching: “Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.” Vatican II’s decree on the apostolate of the laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem (13), places a duty on Christian married partners “strenuously to affirm the right and duty of parents and guardians to educate children in a Christian manner.” Likewise, Pope John Paul II affirms the right and duty of parents to provide for the education of their children by calling the right not only “essential” but also “irreplaceable and inalienable and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.” (Familiaris Consortio, 36)
Marching Orders
Parents, go out and get some free comics for your children. Help them develop a love for reading and love for learning. Helping them love reading will equip them to be life long learners. If you are worried that comics have become too "adult," the comic book publishers and stores have made kid friendly issues available for free too.