Our family has a strong attachment to print culture. On any given day, you’ll see newspapers spread across the dining room table, puffy magazines by the bathtub, piles of books forming biblio-cities on the floor.
My eldest son, Yoshi, joined the family cult gladly—devouring books by the age of four. But his younger brother, Mika, has been a reluctant reader, to say the least. While the rest of the family reads, Mika would generally rather doodle. He draws constantly, covering recycled manuscript pages with fantastical creatures, lopsided buildings, flying birds…
When he started Grade One, I began to wonder and sometimes worry about this lack of readerly interest. But, then again, it’s not so out of character for Mika to choose the “relaxing” route. Why read (or bicycle or make toast) yourself when others can do it for you? (Mika is perfectly happy to curl up in a snuggly spot while his father reads aloud from The Hobbit.)
But about a month ago, something shifted. I noticed that books were appearing in Mika’s drawings. Open books. Boys with books. Then one night when I went to check on him, I saw that he was lying in bed with a small stack of Yoshi’s comics. He was reading in the dark. How long had Mika been a secret reader?
Mika would still rather draw than read. But if the pictures are good, he’ll crack open a book in a second. He loves looking at graphic novels. Which is why he was overjoyed when we took him to Drawn & Quarterly’s bookstore in Montreal’s Mile End neighborhood. With shelves lined with every form of illustrated tome, it’s a Mecca for visual readers—young and old. From the minute we walked in, I could almost see a thought bubble appear above Mika’s head: “Finally, my peeps.”