Comics as a Literary-Didactic Method and Their Use for Reducing Gender Differences in Reading Literacy at the Primary Level of Education

  • Maja Kerneža
  • Katja Košir
Keywords: comics, gender differences, primary level pupils, reading literacy, reading motivation


The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of the systematic use of comics as a literary-didactic method to reduce gender differences in reading literacy and reading  motivation at the primary level of education. It was assumed that the use of comics would have a positive effect on pupils’ reading literacy and reading motivation, while also reducing
the aforementioned differences between boys and girls. The dimensions of reading literacy and reading motivation were examined in experimental and control groups, before and after the intervention, by means of questionnaires and tests for pupils. The sample consisted of 143 pupils from second to fifth grade from two Slovenian primary schools in a rural environment, of which 73 pupils participated in the experimental group and 70 pupils represented the control group. Effects of the use of comics as a literary-didactic method were not found: using comics as a literary-didactic method did not have a statistically significant effect on pupils’ reading literacy and reading motivation. However, when the four-way structure
of the research (taking into account the age and gender of the pupils) was considered, some subgroups showed a statistically significant increase in reading interest and attitude towards reading. No reduction of gender differences in reading literacy and reading motivation was found. Based on the results, guidelines for further research are established and suggestions
are offered for teachers’ work.


Download data is not yet available.


Baker, L. (2003). The role of parents in motivating struggling readers. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 19(1), 87–106.

Below, J. L., Skinner, C. H., Fearrington, J. Y., & Sorrell, C. A. (2010). Gender differences in early literacy: Analysis of kindergarten through fifth-grade dynamic indicators of basic early literacy skills probes. School Psychology Review, 39(2), 240–257.

Bitz, M. (2004). The comic book project: Forging alternative pathways to literacy. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 47(7), 574–586.

Brooks, G. (2007). What works for pupils with literacy difficulties? The effectiveness of intervention schemes. Retrieved 10.1.16 from: _literacy_difficulties.pdf.

Bucik, N. (2009). Razvijanje otrokove motivacije za branje v domačem okolju [Development of children’s motivation for reading at home]. In L. Knaflič (Ed.), Branje za znanje in branje za zabavo: priročnik za spodbujanje družinske pismenosti [Reading for learning and reading for fun: A manual for enhancing family literacy] (p. 17–26). Ljubljana: Andragoški center Slovenije.

Cadima, J., Leal, T., & Burchinal. M. (2010). The quality of teacher-student interactions: Associations with first graders’ academic and behavioural outcomes. Journal of School Psychology, 48(6), 457–482.

Conradi, K., Gee Jang, B., & McKenna, M. C. (2014). Motivational terminology in reading research: a conceptual review. Educational Psychology Review, 26(1), 127–164.

Crane Williams, R. M. (2008). Image, text and story: Comics and graphic novels in the classroom. Art Education, 61(6), 13–19.

Doupona Horvat, M. (2012). Poročilo PIRLS 2011 [PIRLS 2011 report]. Ljubljana: Pedagoški inštitut. Retrieved 13.12.2013 from Project.aspx?id=20.

Edmunds, K. M. & Bauserman, K. L. (2006). What teachers can learn about reading motivation through conversations with children. Reading Teacher, 59(5), 414–424.

Geske, A. & Ozola, A. (2008). Factors influencing reading literacy at the primary school level. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 6, 71–77.

Graziano, P. A., Reavis, R. D., Keane, S. P., & Calkins, S. D. (2007). The role of emotion regulation in children’s early academic success. Journal of School Psychology, 45(1), 3–19.

Grosman, M. (2006). Razsežnosti branja. Za boljšo bralno pismenost [Dimensions of reading. For better reading literacy]. Ljubljana: Karantanija.

Guthrie, J. T., & Alao, S. (1997). Designing contexts to increase motivations for reading. Educational Psychologist, 32(2), 95–107.

Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A., & VonSecker, C. (2000). Effects of integrated instruction on motivation and strategy use in reading. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92(2), 331–341.

Hall, L. A., Johnson, A. S., Juzwik, M. M., Wortham, S. E. F., & Mosley, M. (2010). Teacher identity in the context of literacy teaching: Three explorations of classroom positioning and interaction in secondary schools. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(2), 234–243.

Horton, S. V., Lovitt, T. C., & Bergerud, D. (1990). The effectiveness of graphic organizers for three classifications of secondary students in content area classes. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23(1), 12–22.

Hsieh, P., Acee, T., Chung, W. H., Hsieh, Y. P., Kim, H., Thomas, D. G. et al. (2005). Is educational intervention research on the decline? Journal of Educational Psychology, 97(4), 523–529.

Kerneža, M. & Kordigel Aberšek, M. (2014). Strip – metoda, ki fantom omogoča uspešnejšo interpretacijo literarnega besedila [Comics – a method that allows boys a deeper experience of
children’s literature]. Revija za elementarno izobraževanje, 7(2), 129–145.

Kordigel Aberšek, M. (2008). Didaktika mladinske književnosti [Didactics of juvenile literature]. Ljubljana: Zavod Republike Slovenije za šolstvo.

Kordigel, M. (1999). Komunikacijski model književne vzgoje [A communication model of literary education]. Jezik in slovstvo, 44(5), 151–162.

Kordigel, M., & Saksida, I. (1999). Jaz pa berem 1. Priročnik za učitelje [I read 1. A handbook for teachers]. Ljubljana: Rokus.

Krakar Vogel, B., Blažić, M. M., Kend, J. J., Seliškar Kenda, M., Cigut, N., & Meglič, D. (2005). Svet iz besed za učitelje 4 5 6. Priročnik za učitelje [World of words for teachers 4 5 6. Handbook for
teachers]. Ljubljana: Rokus.

Kramarič, M., Ropič, M., & Urbanič Jelovšek, M. (2000). Na vrtiljaku črk 2: priročnik za učitelje pri pouku slovenščine v 2. razredu devetletne osnovne šole [On the carousel of letters: A teachers’ manual for teaching Slovene in the second grade of primary school]. Ljubljana: Rokus.

Lester Taylor, D. (2004). “Not just boring stories”: Reconsidering the gender gap for boys. International reading association, 48(4), 290–298.

Linklater, D. L., O’Connor, R. E., & Palardy, G. J. (2009). Kindergarten literacy assessment of English only and English language learner students: An examination of the predictive validity of three phonemic awareness measures. Journal of School Psychology, 47(6), 369–394.

Lyga, A. A. W. (2006). Graphic novels for (really) young readers: Owly, buzzboy, pinky and stinky. Who are these guys? And why aren’t they ever on the shelf? School Library Journal, 52(3), 56–61.

Lynn, R., & Mikk, J. (2009). Sex differences in reading achievement. Trames: A Journal of the Humanities & Social Sciences, 13(1), 3–13.

Martin, M. O., Mullis, I. V. S., & Kennedy, A. M. (2007). PIRLS 2006 technical report. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

Mazzoni, S. A., Gambrell, L. & Korkeamaki, R. L. (1999). A cross-cultural perspective of early literacy motivation. Reading Psychology, 20(3), 237–253.

McCloud, S. (2010). Kako nastane strip: pripovedne skrivnosti stripa, mange in risanega romana [Making comics]. Ljubljana: Društvo za oživljanje zgodbe 2. koluta: Društvo za širjenje filmske kulture KINO!.

Morrison, T. G., Bryan, G., & Chilcoat, G. W. (2002). Using student-generated comic books in the classroom. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 45(8), 758–767.

Norton, B. (2003). The motivating power of comic books: insight from Archie comic readers. The Reading Teacher, 57(2), 140–147.

Pečjak, S. (1999). Osnove psihologije branja. Spiralni model kot oblika razvijanja bralnih sposobnosti učencev [The basics of reading psychology. A spiral model as a form of developing students’ reading skills]. Ljubljana: Znanstveni inštitut Filozofske fakultete.

Pečjak, S., & Košir, K. (2004). Pupils’ reading motivation and teacher’s activities for enhancing it. Review of Psychology, 11(1–2), 11–24.

Pečjak, S., Bucik, N., Gradišar, A., & Peklaj, C. (2006). Bralna motivacija v šoli: merjenje in razvijanje [Reading motivation in school: Measuring and developing]. Ljubljana: Zavod Republike Slovenije za šolstvo.

Pečjak, S., Bucik, N., Peštaj, M., Podlesek, A., & Pirc, T. (2010). Bralna pismenost ob koncu osnovne šole – ali fantje berejo drugače kot dekleta [Reading literacy at the end of primary schools – Do boys read differently than girls]? Sodobna pedagogika, 61(1), 86–102.

Poznanovič Jezeršek, M., Cestnik, M., Čuden, M., Gomivnik Thuma, V., Honzak, M., Križaj Ortar, M. et al. (2011). Učni načrt. Program osnovna šola. Slovenščina [Primary school curriculum for
Slovene language]. Ljubljana: Ministrstvo za šolstvo in šport: Zavod RS za šolstvo.

Pressley, M., Graham, S. &Harris, K. (2006). The state of educational intervention research as viewed through the lens of literacy intervention. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 76(1), 1–19.

Prvi rezultati PIRLS 2011 [PIRLS first results 2011]. (n. d.). Retrieved 19.12.13 from

Puklek Levpušček, M., Podlesek, A., & Šterman Ivančič, K. (2012). Dejavniki bralne pismenosti v raziskavi PISA 2009 [Reading literacy factors in the PISA 2009 survey]. Pedagoški inštitut, Ljubljana.

Sadowski, M. (2010). Putting the ‘boy crisis’ in context: Finding solutions to boys’ reading problems may require looking beyond gender. Harvard Education Letter, 26(4), 10–13.

Schwarz, G. (2002). Graphic novels for multiple literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 46(3), 262–265.

Schwarz, G. (2006). Expanding literacies through graphic novels. The English Journal, 95(6), 58–64.

Sheridan, S. M., Knoche, L. L., Kupzyk, K. A., Edwards, C. P., & Marvin, C. A. (2011). A randomized the effects of parent engagement on early language and literacy: The Getting Ready intervention. Journal of School Psychology, 49(3), 361–383.

Stipek, D. (1996). Motivation and instruction. In D. C. Berliner, R. C. Calfee (Ed.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 85–113). New York: Simon & Schuster.

Sweet, A. P. & Guthrie, J. T. (1996). How children’s motivation relate to literacy development and instruction. The Reading Teacher, 49(8), 660–662.

Štraus, M., Šterman Ivančič, K., & Štigl, S. (2012). Program mednarodne primerjave dosežkov učencev 2012 – matematični, bralni in naravoslovni dosežki slovenskih učencev: nacionalno poročilo [International students’ assessment programme 2012 – Mathematics, reading and science achievements of Slovenian students: National report]. Retrieved 23.09.15 from PISA_2012_Povzetek_rezultatov_za_Slovenijo.pdf.

Ulper, H. (2011). The motivational factors for reading in terms of students. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, 11(2), 954–960.

Vaughn, S., Gerten, R. & Chard, D. J. (2000). The underlying message in learning disabilities intervention research: findings from research synthesis. Exceptional children, 67(1), 99–114.

Versaci, R. (2011). How comic books can change the way our students see literature: one teacher’s perspective. The English Journal, 91(2), 61–67.