manga | From unloved to learning tools

Considered too violent by some, too sexual by others, manga have long had a bad reputation. And this perception still persists today, to the chagrin of primary school teachers who have chosen this literature from Japan to introduce young people to reading. With success.

Posted at 6:15 a.m.

As far back as he can remember, Kevin Martins Sousas has always read manga. “When I was a child, manga were banned at school, so I hid them in novels so I could read them in class! It was therefore only natural for the postgraduate teacher at Le Vitrail school in Montreal to pass on his passion to his students… completely legally.

So he stocked his class library with albums chosen as naruto, demon slayer Where One Piece. “Manga is really part of my DNA as a teacher. I use manga characters on educational sheets, I use this universe for math problems…”

Charlotte Manus, 12, saw her interest in manga increase tenfold when she arrived in the class of Kevin Martins Sousas. “In my other classes, there was no manga in the libraries. With Kevin, I discovered complete series, like Death Note Where The attack of the Titans. »

Charlotte was already an avid reader and despite her interest in manga, she also reads a lot of novels. But not all students are like her, recalls Kevin Martins Sousas. Hence the importance of presenting students with a varied choice of reading materials, in order to encourage them to read a little or a lot. “It’s better to read manga than not to read anything at all,” says the teacher. Some young people who refused to read got hooked on manga. »

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Teacher Kevin Martins Sousas uses manga as teaching tools with his senior elementary class.

One day, students will read classic novels because they have discovered the pleasure of reading with manga. I see all the benefits that manga bring for the motivation to read.

Kevin Martins Sousas

Julie Turcotte, teacher of 6e year at the primary school of Jolis-Prés, in Laterrière, also found this year that group reading of manga had a beneficial effect on the interest of children, in particular boys, but also girls who were repelled by reading . “When we read Samurai 8, the young people liked it. We had to read only 4 pages and finally, we read 20! »

Amélie Jean-Louis, president and CEO of O-Taku bookstores, is not surprised to hear this. For the past two years, she has seen more and more teachers come to stock up at the lounge on rue Saint-Denis in Montreal, or at one of the eight partner bookstores scattered across Quebec.

However, not everyone jumped on the manga bandwagon. This literary genre still has its share of detractors, who blame it in particular for a certain violent inclination. “You have to choose the titles you read carefully. Yes, there are sometimes fights, but no more than in Asterix or Tintin, ”says Kevin Martins Sousas. “Violence is never gratuitous,” adds Amélie Jean-Louis. The level of violence is less than what young people see in the movies. »

On the contrary, manga convey values ​​that are fair and beautiful, say these two enthusiasts. Fraternity, perseverance, courage, the importance of going after your dreams and cultivating your difference, in particular.

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Amélie Jean-Louis reads all the manga that come into her bookstore, that is to say ten per week!

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

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

These values ​​resonate favorably with young readers. But there are other reasons to explain the current enthusiasm among primary school students. For Charlotte Mans, the interest of manga lies above all in the dialogues. “There is almost never any narration. These are always conversations. I also really like the drawings, which are very expressive, with the characters’ big eyes, for example. “In addition, the chapters always end with suspense that makes students want to know what’s next,” adds Julie Turcotte.

Despite all these qualities, some teachers are still reluctant to include manga in their teaching kits for the simple reason that they feel overwhelmed by the multitude of titles available. Amélie Jean-Louis understands them. She reads each new title that comes through 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…

To help teachers, but also parents, find their way around, the O-Taku Lounge has created an SOS Parents page on its website, with gift suggestions for children and teenagers.