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Origin of Super Readers Discussed by Owner of Friendly Neighborhood Comics

Oct 31, 2014 06:00AM ● By Marjorie Turner Hollman

FNC owner Ernie Pelletier displays on of his early favorites, the graphic novel "Prince Valiant"

Every concerned parent hopes their child will become proficient in reading. Literacy is key to navigating our modern world. Yet, so many children (and adults) have a difficult time reading, hate to read, and avoid reading if they can. Is there a secret key that will open the door to reading? Is there a way to make your child a super reader?

If you speak to Ernie Pelletier, owner of Friendly Neighborhood Comics, he will tell you that there is. In fact, he confides that his comic book store on Mechanic Street in Bellingham has a secret identity.

“I like to tell people that the secret identity of Friendly Neighborhood Comics is that it promotes literacy,” Pelletier said recently. “Comics are useful for enticing reluctant readers. They have visuals. And good readers enjoy them as well. There are new titles that come out every Wednesday.”

Pelletier reflected on how comics contributed to his own love of reading. “It’s the stories that kept me reading—the continuing adventures. When I was a kid I’d get on my bike and make the rounds of all the drugstores in the area of south Bellingham and Woonsocket. I’ve lived in Bellingham my whole life. I made a choice to locate my store here.”

He walked over to one of the shelves of his store, filled with a variety of comics of every shape and flavor. “One of my favorites was Prince Valiant. It combined storytelling and artwork. It uses graphic narrative for telling stories.”

Pelletier noted that kids these days assess and process information visually. “Comics bring kids in with a language they relate to and can adopt.” He promised, “Give a kid a copy of Moby Dick and you’ll fight with him all summer to read. Give him or her Moby Dick, the graphic novel, and that kid will read it and ask for more.” He pointed out that many comics are written at a higher reading level than material kids typically get in school.

“Some of my best customers are teachers,” Pelletier said. “We have a title list of comics that work with the Common Core standards.
“We’ve set up the store this way on purpose—it’s clean and neat,” he continued. “The front of the store has material to help parents and new readers. The typical super hero comics are farther back—they’re akin to a PG-13 movie.”

Pelletier went on to note that he has kids who draw and write their own comics.
Reading is a skill, and the more a person reads, practicing the skill, the better they’ll get at it. It’s clear that, besides reading comics, Pelletier enjoys talking about both comics and reading. To learn more about how to turn your child into a super reader, stop in and ask for Ernie. Before you know it, not just your child, but you yourself might be poring over the pages of a graphic novel or comic book that will make you want to read more.
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