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  • Kraig Brachman

How to Merge TV and Reading

I love TV shows. I love the format, the moving visuals, the inventiveness within the medium, I love how approachable it can be. And, yes, too much of a good thing is a bad thing; we here at Further Education Society of Alberta are big proponents of getting off the coach, spending time together with family and loved ones, going outside, getting needed exercise, all those things that are a little more difficult while sitting in front of a device.

So, setting myself the challenge, I wanted to see if I could find ways to engage the avid TV viewer with reading. Below are three ways you can get your reluctant reader to read by engaging them through their favourite TV shows.

See if their favourite show has any related books or comics:

Lots of properties have cross media merchandising; you can find books based off video games, movies, TV shows, and toys. One of the toughest things to convince a non-reader is that there are things they will find interesting in books. So, if there is a particular subject, genre, or franchise, lean into it! If it gets your kids reading, we think that is a positive.

Suggestions for shows with lots of books to read:

Adventure Time:

A Cartoon Network original series starring Finn the Human and his dog/brother Jake the Dog. They live in a magical post-apocalyptic world, having adventures. There is a wide range of fun, interesting, and surprisingly deep characters. The hallmarks of the series include original songs, invented slang, humour, Dungeons and Dragons references, and being an all-around unique and inventive show that feels much bigger than its 10-minute run time.

Gravity Falls:

An original series produced by Disney that ran from 2012-2014. A cross-section between The X-Files, Futurama, and Scooby-Doo. It follows Dipper and Mabel Pines on their last summer vacation before turning 13 in the titular Gravity Falls, a sleepy little town that houses mysteries around every corner and under every rock.


Originally a graphic novel series that last year released a feature length movie after 2 seasons of its TV show. The series follows Hilda, a fearless and inquisitive 11-year-old. Hilda is always making friends, human or otherwise, and explores the strange world of Trollburg and its surrounding countryside.

As Hilda started off as a graphic novel, there are many books your child could read alongside watching the series.

Superhero Shows:

Modern superheroes have been a thing since Superman made his first appearance in 1938 – note, Superman wasn’t the first superhero, but there is a distinct before and after Superman. The first adaptation of the Man from Krypton was The Adventures of Superman. The first adaptation to incorporate motion was a series of short films featuring Supes between 1941-1943 by Paramount.

Since then, there has been a never-ending deluge of adaptations for superheroes of all types. However, most people don’t even think to pick up the source material. We just published a blog on the benefits of reading graphic novels and comics. I'm here to tell you, there is a whole world of comics and graphic novels to explore if your child is interested in any superhero TV show, film, video game, or toy.

The Magic School Bus:

Rounding out the list is an oldie, but a goodie. The Magic School Bus started off as a series of books written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen. The series follows Ms. Valerie Felicity Frizzle and her class, who board the Magic School Bus to go on field trips to impossible locations, including the solar system, clouds, the past, and the human body.

The series was adapted into an animated series that ran from 1994-97, and a second series was produced that ran from 2017-18, with specials produced in 2020.

Turning on the Closed Captioning:

It’s more often than not I have Closed Captioning on while I watch the latest episodes of my favourite shows. Without getting into the surprisingly deep reason why TV shows and movies these days go from incredibly quiet to BLARINGLY LOUD, closed captioning is a necessity for those with impaired hearing, it can also be a useful tool for introducing new words, seeing how they are spelled out, and familiarizing yourself with the sounds of the words.

Watch Shows or Movies with Subtitles:

Lastly, we recommend searching out shows that were recorded in another language originally and then subtitled. Most popular shows these days will have a dubbed version, but as the old saying goes, subs before dubs!

While neither is a perfect recreation of watching a show made in a different language with its own cultural understanding, and watching a show dubbed or subbed is an interpretation of the original; however, our goal isn’t about a 1-for-1 experience, it’s about finding ways to incorporating reading into an otherwise passive medium. So, try out that new Korean soap, check out the latest anime on Netflix, and give the subtitles a try.


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