DC recently announced a new campaign to help promote their graphic novels in libraries and schools across the nation called, “Be a Hero, Read a Book.”

This campaign will bring awareness to DC titles, particularly upcoming DC Zoom and DC Ink lines, and generally, encourage kids to read graphic novels.

WHAT IS ‘BE A HERO, READ A BOOK’ ABOUT?

Marvel, DC, Be a Hero, DC Zoom, DC Ink, Read a Book, Francis Manapul, Batman, Ridley Pearson, Ile Gonzalez, graphic novel, Super Sons, PolarShield Project, libraries, schools, American Library Association, Seattle, Washington, super hero,DC sent out a news release with information about this new campaign, which included the following:

DC revealed plans today for a new campaign – “Be a Hero, Read a Book” –that will promote graphic novels across libraries and schools nationwide by providing librarians with DC Super Hero-themed materials, resources and activities.

As part of the program, DC will debut new, custom artwork every month that will be featured on various promotional materials such as posters, bookmarks, and stickers, among other items, that librarians can display in their libraries and/or pass out to students and patrons. Each art piece will depict an iconic DC character reading a DC Zoom (middle grade) or DC Ink (YA) graphic novel. The first piece of promotional art debuting in January 2019 is by acclaimed artist Francis Manapul and features Batman reading Ridley Pearson and Ile Gonzalez’s upcoming DC Zoom graphic novel, Super Sons: The PolarShield Project, which hits shelves April 2, 2019.

In addition to promotional items, “Be a Hero, Read a Book” will also offer librarians excerpts from upcoming DC Zoom and DC Ink graphic novels.

As part of the campaign’s kick-off, attendees at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Conference in Seattle, Washington, received free promotional tote bags and bookmarks, among other items – all featuring Manapul’s artwork.

DC has several events coming in 2019, including participating in Booklists’ first annual “Graphic Novels in Libraries Month,” slated for July. The month-long program encourages librarians to host events and promote reading graphic novels at their libraries. Participating libraries have the opportunity to receive DC graphic novels and comics, and “Be a Hero, Read a Book” promotional materials to use at their events.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

Marvel, DC, Be a Hero, DC Zoom, DC Ink, Read a Book, Francis Manapul, Batman, Ridley Pearson, Ile Gonzalez, graphic novel, Super Sons, PolarShield Project, libraries, schools, American Library Association, Seattle, Washington, super hero, Reading is critical these days. In an era deluged with video and video games, it seems that fewer and fewer kids are growing up with the ability to read at even basic levels.

This matters to me personally because, as I grew up, my mother used to read comics to me and my twin brother on a daily basis. We would each sit on different sides of her as she read, and if we didn’t know a word she came across, we’d ask her to define it.

Because the writing level of many comics is at high-school proficiency, when the two of us got to first grade and the teacher asked us to read, we astounded her with our ability to understand and read out loud the toughest reading challenges she could give us. They ended up taking us to various higher-level grades to read before them, telling them after we would leave, “They can read better than all of you, and they’re only in First Grade!”

When the teacher asked us to tell her the longest word we knew, my brother, being a big Superman fan, said, “invulnerable.” When it was my turn, I said, “Batmobile.” Needless to say, we were far ahead of anything the other kids could muster.

These events have proven helpful to both of us during our lives. When it comes to spelling something, for instance, friends often turn to one of us to find out how to write complex words correctly. We also have been asked to define words and sort out complicated grammar for others.

Now, I say this not to brag on ourselves, but to point out that reading really does make a difference as far as being able to communicate with others. It also helps when it comes to appreciating storytelling, a love of mine since I was very young.

Comics can also help as far as enjoying artwork, or even motivating others to take up the pencil and draw. I personally encourage friends with young kids to show them comics to see if there’s a talent they have they could pursue.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s no downside to expanding one’s imagination and to learning how to communicate with others. Of course, I knew the difference between imaginary tales and real life better than many of my friends!

COULD THIS HELP DC BECOME THE ‘COOL’ COMPANY?

Marvel, DC, Be a Hero, DC Zoom, DC Ink, Read a Book, Francis Manapul, Batman, Ridley Pearson, Ile Gonzalez, graphic novel, Super Sons, PolarShield Project, libraries, schools, American Library Association, Seattle, Washington, super hero, I’ve often been told by folks who run comics shops that DC is not perceived as the “cool” comics company. That title often goes to Marvel. After all, at younger ages, the recommendations of friends carry a ton of weight, and Marvel has done a good job of getting into the hands of younger readers over the years, and the love of the characters from the House of Ideas often has carried on into adulthood.

Granted, some kids will NOT like it if adults in education recommend something to them. But many others will. Maybe if they get the chance to sample DC books earlier in their education, they’ll appreciate their stories more.

I don’t think Marvel will have to worry about losing their status as the “cool” company any time soon. But it would be great to see readers, at the very least, learn to appreciate good storytelling no matter where they discover it.

It’s so odd to me how some folks look at comics companies as if they are political parties. If you like Marvel, you must hate DC, for example. I never had that perspective. Yes, I prefer DC, but that’s because I like their characters and stories more. I like it when heroes are bigger and bolder and stronger than I am. Marvel’s heroes getting a head cold or having a bad hair day never resounded in me as they have in others. I do buy Marvel books as well, so to each, his or her own, I feel. There’s more than enough room for Marvel, DC, Image, and all the other comics creating companies around.

More information about “Be a Hero, Read a Book” and how libraries can request a DC event kit for July’s Graphic Novels in Libraries Month” can be found on the DC Resources for Educators and Librarians page on the DC website.

What do you think? Should libraries and schools have more comics in them? Will educators influence the ability of kids to learn how to communicate better with those around them? Might this help DC when it comes to new readers appreciating their stories? Whatever your opinions, please be sure to share them in the space below!


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Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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