lördag 29 september 2012

Children's (magazine) reading habits

Are comics and children's magazines a gateway to "healthy reading habits"?

In the project course I teach right now, "Future of Media", we work with the theme of magazines this year; "The future of magazines" / "Magazines of the future". Right when the course started, all students had to write a short (400-1000 words) essay about their personal relationship to magazines.

I noticed that most students' first magazines were comics (Donald Duck, Bamse). While reading comics as a child did not guarantee that my students would continue to read magazines later in their lives, I still think that not having a subscription of your own as a child makes the threshold of subscribing and reading magazines later in life higher. I haven't done a detailed analysis of my students' essays, but still, certain patterns emerge after having read all 60 of them and this is one pattern that I observed.

And so I have decided to fund a magazine subscription for each of my two children. While I think the price of a subscription is pretty high, what I have come to realize is that that price is not just the cost for the physical product and the service of getting it sent directly to your mailbox, but also an investment that might affect my children's (future) reading habits. That is an important insight because while the latest issue of comics magazine Bamse costs 30 SEK and you can buy them 2nd hand for 3 or 5 (?) SEK, you thus pay for more than just the content when you subscribe to it (and the price per issue falls towards 20 SEK). I can easily have a cup of coffee and pay more than 20 SEK without blinking...

I know I am repeating myself, but something I haven't thought about before is that there is a difference between subscribing to a comics magazine (and getting 20 issues in the mailbox spread out over the course of a year) compared to buying 20 inexpensive second-hand issues of the same magazine once per year. Is there a price tag for the joy and excitement (as described by some of my students) of finding the latest issue of a (comics) magazine in the mailbox? The periodicity (one new issue every 3rd week) also means that my children will be reminded regularly about the joys of reading.

And so my youngest will get a subscription for Bamse and the older will get a subscription for Kamratposten. I will try to convince my brother to give them these as Christmas presents and to renew the subscriptions every year. He too likes to read so it shouldn't be too difficult.

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