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When Laughter Powers Reading – Mike Stirling from The Beano

We are delighted to welcome Mike Stirling, the ‘Director of Mischief’ at the Beano and co-author of the Beano’s range of Boomics, which are a cross between a book and a comic. Mike visits our blog to share insights into how laughter can power reading and how the Boomic range provide an appealing option for encouraging all children to read for enjoyment.

Guest Post: Mike Stirling

Director of Mischief at Beano Studios and co-author with Craig Graham of The Day the Teachers Disappeared, out now.


When Laughter Powers Reading

I’m cautiously optimistic that teachers reading something by Beano’s Director of Mischief may already have witnessed the positive role of comic storytelling in their classroom.

Weekly comics like Beano and The Phoenix, comic book series like Bunny Vs. Monkey and Dogman, and especially the new ‘hybrid’ heavily illustrated and hilariously funny novels, such our own growing range of Beano ‘boomics’ are helping teachers engage reluctant readers.

In learning environments where humour is allowed to flourish, kids can become more confident, creative, develop more empathy, achieve better emotional balance, and enjoy greater pleasure in reading and learning.

Stories told alongside funny pictures are the most hardworking form of literature. I know this from the number of times, kids, parents, and teachers have told us that the weekly Beano comic have tempted them to build a habit reading.

Word-to-Picture Ratio

When Craig Graham and I started writing the boomics (laugh-out-loud funny books with comic pictures), we aimed at discovering the perfect ratio of words to funny pictures. Every boomic is accessible, serving a ‘scaffolded’ reading experience, where images support digestible chunks of text.

This removes many barriers to reading. For instance, pictures can support kids who are autistic to successfully decode the emotions of characters, while dyslexic readers are encouraged by using the images as landmarks to interpret, comprehend and remember.

Audio Boomboxes

Every boomic is available in unabridged audiobook format too, and we enhance reading aloud (the ultimate way to engage reluctant readers) by creating free soundboxes via

These ‘Boomboxes’, which are using special effects to be unleashed alongside each illustration, are a fantastic way to add a new interactive dimension to telling stories and are perfect for the classroom.

Encouraging Reading for Pleasure

This isn’t about learning to read, or reading as homework, it’s about children choosing what to read. Kids who read for pleasure in their spare time are more likely to do well in school, enjoy strong friendships, have better mental health, and overall happier lives.

And yet, almost half of all kids in the UK are still defined as ‘reluctant readers.’ This is the problem that funny books and comic books can help overcome, by proving how reading is fun for everyone.

Brave Educators and Rebel Teachers

Despite all these benefits, funny illustrated books are still not universally available in schools and libraries. There remains some prejudice against the form from those unaware of the benefits.

Teachers and librarians often have to defend choosing comics or funny books to parents and their senior leaders. It takes brave educators to rebel against this. Teachers like Miss Mistry.

She’s the newest teacher at Bash Street School. A former pupil, and the author of a secret guide called the Manual of Mischief. It’s secreted in the school library, where Minnie, Dennis, Harsha, and their friends can often be seen taking a break from mischief with a book. Miss Mistry treats pupils the way she wishes she’d been treated when she was at school.

Inclusive Books for Everyone

Boomics are books for everyone; we listen to kids to ensure they see themselves and their realities reflected by relatable, inclusive characters and recognisable situations.

In the latest book, Minnie’s parents separate, something that shocks and upsets her. While kids can’t control grown-ups around them, we hope they can protect their own feelings and mental health. Minnie does this by creating her own comic diary. Partly to suss things out, but mainly to guarantee she always has something brilliant to read.

And every kid deserves something brilliant to read, whichever genre or format they choose.


Mike Stirling is Director of Mischief at Beano Studios and co-author with Craig Graham of The Day the Teachers Disappeared, out now and available via Amazon or Bookshop.

For more book suggestions for comic fans, try our list of the Best Graphic Novels for Children Aged 9-11, our list of Graphic Novels for Lower Ks2 or our new booklist of Graphic Novels for KS1.

You may also like our Branching Out booklists, including Books for Fans of Bunny vs Monkey and Books for Fans of Dog Man.

Where next?
> Visit our Reading for Pleasure Hub
> Browse our Topic Booklists
> View our printable year group booklists.
> See our Books of the Month.

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