Nancy Silberkleit, daughter-in-law of Louis H. Silberkleit one of the founders of Archie Comic Publications, stepped into her role as Co-CEO of the company in 2009 with a vision that the comic book as a graphic novel is a valuable tool for developing literacy among first-time readers and instilling a love of reading for everyone. As a former public school educator, homemaker and mother, she knows the importance of learning to read and coined a personal motto that “Children+Comic Books=Reading, Knowledge and Confidence.”
Speaking at the 2012 Comic-Con International Convention in San Diego on the “Secret Origin of Good Readers,” Ms. Silberkleit further presents her agenda of why comic books are needed in America’s classrooms and libraries. She believes that comic books can be used to engage a variety of learners, while promoting literacy and a love of reading. She further believes that the graphic comic book format helps to enrich and develop the creative mind.
“Reading Archie Comics for 30 minutes is what I like to call ‘Archie Therapy,'” says Nancy Silberkleit, Co-CEO of Archie Comic Publications. “The light-hearted, humorous stories have appealed to readers for generations thanks to the talented writers and artists who make Archie a never-ending story.”
Recognizing that young readers may not have access to comic books, she created the Comic Book Fairs at schools across America, as an event to ignite an interest in reading, plus they may be used as fund-raising initiatives in which the schools earn monies through the sale of comic books. This venue has become so popular that other comic book publishers join Archie in selling their books at these school fairs.
In addition to her role at Archie Comic Publications in which she heads up Education and Theater, Ms. Silberkleit has established her own foundation Rise Above Social Issues Foundation, Inc., as a non-profit that addresses challenging social issues, such as childhood obesity and other chronic medical conditions, as well as bullying, discrimination and environmental concerns through comic books.
“By enhancing literacy and encouraging self-confidence and knowledge through age-accessible, non-threatening reading materials, such as specially created, topical comic books, we strive to stimulate creativity and tolerance in young people, giving them the tools to become a positive influence on their peers through overcoming social challenges,” adds Ms. Silberkleit.
According to Dr. Athos Bousvaros, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital Boston, “Nancy Silberkleit is a passionate advocate of comics as a tool to promote both children’s literacy and health. In her role as co-CEO of Archie Comics, she has also worked to develop comics that promote children’s health, including ‘JD Shapes Up,’ an illustrated manual aiming to reduce childhood obesity.”
Next steps in education for Nancy Silberkleit include the establishment of after-school tutoring programs, development of lesson plans to help teachers plan in comic book style, support of Rwanda’s refusal to use plastic, and, of course, more comic book fairs across America to engage children in this format of literacy.