School Survey Finds Comic Books Corrupt Spelling Of Students
Personal Libraries Upshot Of Project
By John Fahr
One more aspect of the current furor over comic books has emerged from a survey conducted by fifth grade students at Ft. Lowell school.
Amazed by the peculiar spelling of certain words by most members of her class, Mrs. Elizabeth Muir asked the children where they had picked up their ideas.
"In comic books," was the prompt reply from all but one of the 27 students in the class. Only one had never read comics.
The subsequent project launched last fall not only proved the sound judgment of the fifth graders in their choice of the few comic books they elected to continue reading but brought forth the decision by the youngsters to save their money to start their own libraries of good books.
Since the study of what is wrong with comic books began, Mrs. Muir seldom finds "wabbit," "purty," "yep," "izzatso" and other comic-book-inspired words on the students' compositions.
After the children brought all types of comic books to class and rated them and began to show a gratifying interest in good books other than comics, their teacher reached the conclusion that no adult censorship is necessary to cut down their consumption of comic books.
"However, they do need adult co-operation and supervision to maintain the effort," Mrs. Muir said. Students of the fifth grade level don't care for romance and horror comics found objectionable by comic book critics, so these are not the prime concern of parents and teachers of younger children, she said.
It is in the popular western and animal comics that the language leads the children astray in their grammar and spelling, the survey showed.
Rating the comic books brought to class as harmful, poor or good, the fifth graders based their judgment on language used, attitude toward right and wrong, attitude toward officers of the law, children, parents and home, and attitude toward decency and morals as opposed to crime, violence and hatred.
Informational comics such as those based on history, Bible stories, classics and aviation stories rated highest in language and attitudes but were not so popular with this age group as animal and western comic magazines.
Some of the children said their parents were in the habit of buying comic books for them for the following reasons—in their own words: "To keep me quiet while we're on a trip," "To amuse me while Mother is shopping," or "To keep me from asking so many questions."
The students concluded that it would be worthwhile to ask their parents to give them the money usually spent on comic magazines and use it instead to buy books for personal libraries.
After the survey the average number of comic books owned by each child dropped from 45 to 31, and the average would have been lower had not one boy increased his comic book holdings from 100 to 300 comics through the gift of a friend.
About half the class stopped reading comic books altogether, and of 13 children who still read them, five youngsters said they now read them only occasionally. The rest averaged one a week as against the three-a-week average in October.
Parent cooperation in furthering the children's interest in owning low-priced books of good quality and in using the school and Carnegie libraries for books beyond the pupil's price range, will affect the children's future reading tastes and habits, the teacher stated.
Even if the stories and grammar in comic books are found suitable, one fault remains. Several children in the class complained that after reading through a few comics the bright colors and often blurred print began to hurt their eyes.