How to Watch Anime for Fun and Profit
Vol.9 Issue 3
Watching anime with your child can strengthen your relationship

Like many parents, at one point I found myself in constant, low-grade conflict with one of my children at one point in their education. Both of us were miserable. They were in 5th grade, and they had hit "the wall" with their reading. They needed to read more in order to progress their mastery, but their struggles up until that point - combined with the myriad of other, more fun things competing for their time - left them resenting and resisting my nightly demands that they read. They had come to hate reading, which became a huge obstacle for their learning. I was flummoxed on how to turn that around. Then I found my secret weapon: anime.

I have always loved cartoons and comic books; that didn’t change just because I grew up and had kids. Consequently, I have watched tons of cartoons with my children, including anime. Anime cartoons come from Japan, and they have exploded in popularity with both kids and adults. Many streaming services offer anime with dubbed audio, where the dialogue is re-recorded in English (or some other language) and replaces the original, Japanese audio. Generally, the dubbed version of a new episode is released one or several weeks after the subtitled original-audio version.

That’s when anime became my secret weapon. I immediately saw the potential to resolve our dilemma and offered them a bargain. They would no longer have to read books as their nightly reading if they watched subtitled anime in its place. They enthusiastically accepted the deal and began voraciously consuming subtitled media, eventually reading manga (Japanese comic books) as well. Their reading speed and comprehension improved by leaps and bounds as reading went from dreaded to useful. While there is substantial research ( indicating that subtitles improve core literacy skills, I was unaware of this fact and simply stumbled upon this ’cheat code’ by way of my kid thinking they would get one over on me!

Anime is very popular with both kids and adults and there is a wide variety of styles, tones, and subject matter for the shows – there really is something for (almost) everyone. A wide variety of streaming services offer anime, but the go-to service by far is Crunchyroll ( – the price is comparable to other streaming services), which also includes access to manga. If you can find one or more to share with your child that piques their interest, you have an opportunity to open up a whole new way for your child to master reading that doesn’t feel like a chore.

Family watching anime together

Watching with them gives you a great opportunity to hang out and have something to talk about that will really engage them, and which is vital to building a rapport with your child. That being said, there is a lot of variety in the genre, ranging from shows made for very young, to shows suitable only for adults. Since younger, new viewers may need active parental help selecting appropriate shows at first, it’s best to start off watching with them – just search "anime to watch with your kids" for several lists to get started. If your kid, like mine, has hit the wall and you are struggling to help them to re-engage with reading – or if you are looking for a fun way to spend some time with them and have something to talk about – then anime could turn out to be your secret weapon, too.

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