manga | From unloved to learning tools

Considered too violent by some and too sexual by others, manga has long had a bad rap. And that perception persists to this day, much to the chagrin of elementary school teachers who chose this literature from Japan to help young people learn to read. With success.

Posted at 6:15am

Stephanie Morin

Stephanie Morin
The PressIt

For as long as he can remember, Kevin Martins Sousa has always been reading manga. “When I was a kid, manga was banned in school, so I hid it in novels so I could read them in class! So it was only natural for the postgraduate teacher at the Le Vitrail school in Montreal to pass on his passion to his students – quite legally.

So he filled his class library with selected albums Naruto, Demon Hunter Where One piece. “Manga is really part of my DNA as a teacher. I use manga characters on textbooks, I use this universe for math problems…”

Charlotte Manus, 12, saw her interest in manga increase tenfold when she joined Kevin Martin’s Sousa class. “In my other classes, there were no manga in the libraries. With Kevin I discovered complete series, like death notice Where Attack of the Titans. »

Charlotte was already an avid reader and, despite her interest in manga, also reads a lot of novels. But not all students are like her, remembers Kevin Martins Sousa. Therefore, it is important to offer students a varied selection of reading material to encourage them to read little or much. “It’s better to read manga than nothing at all,” says the teacher. Some young people who refused to read became addicted to manga. »


Teacher Kevin Martins Sousa uses manga as a teaching tool for his elementary school class.

One day, high school students will read classic novels because they discovered the joy of reading through manga. I see all the benefits that manga brings to motivation to read.

Kevin Martin’s Sousa

Julie Turcotte, 6th grade teachere year at the primary school of Jolis-Prés, in Laterrière, found again this year that reading manga in groups had a positive effect on the interest of children, especially boys but also girls who were repelled by reading. “When we read samurai 8, the youngsters liked it. We only had to read 4 pages and finally we read 20! »

Amélie Jean-Louis, President and CEO of O-Taku Bookstores, is not surprised to hear this. Over the past two years, she’s seen more and more teachers stocking up at the lounge on rue Saint-Denis in Montreal, or at one of eight partner bookstores scattered across Quebec.

However, not everyone jumped on the manga bandwagon. This literary genre still has its share of critics who accuse it of a certain propensity for violence. “You must choose carefully the titles you read. Yes, there are fights sometimes, but no more so than in Asterix or Tintin,” says Kevin Martins Sousa. “Violence is never without reason,” adds Amélie Jean-Louis. The level of violence is less than what young people see in the movies. »

On the contrary, manga conveys values ​​that are fair and beautiful, say these two enthusiasts. Fraternity, perseverance, courage, the importance of pursuing your dreams and especially cultivating your differences.


Amélie Jean-Louis reads all the manga that comes into her bookstore, so ten a week!

Contrary to comics American, the manga hero is not a loner. He surrounds himself with a plethora of characters who help each other.

Amélie Jean-Louis, President and CEO of O-Taku Bookstores

These values ​​go down well with young readers. But there are other reasons to explain the current enthusiasm among elementary school students. For Charlotte Mans, the main interest in manga lies in the dialogues. “There is almost never a narrative. These are always conversations. I also really like the drawings, they are very expressive, for example with the big eyes of the characters. “Plus, the chapters always end in a suspenseful way, so students want to know what’s coming next,” adds Julie Turcotte.

Despite all these qualities, some teachers are still reluctant to include manga in their teaching materials for the simple reason that they feel overwhelmed by the multitude of titles available. Amélie Jean-Louis understands them. She reads every new title that comes into her library, about ten a week! And the titles are as varied as the subjects covered: history, adventure, gastronomy, chess, adaptation of literary classics, human biology…

In order to make it easier for teachers and parents to find their way around, the O-Taku Lounge has set up an SOS parents’ page on its website with gift suggestions for children and young people.

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