Reading is very important. I think that goes without saying. And as comic book fans, it is obvious that we like to read. You can’t just look at the pretty pictures forever, without reading the story to find out what is going on.
Getting kids to read at an early age is important as well. There are lots of great children’s books available, but I think comic books are a great reading tool as well.
When you go into your local comic book shop, do you ever notice how many kids are in there? Sometimes not too many.
There are challenges for comic book shops to help attract the child customer. One challenge is the parents. If a parent is not interested in comic books, it is unlikely that they will make the venture into the comic book shop with their children. The comic book shop then has to make the effort to make the parent feel comfortable to bring their children into the comic shop. When I take my kids into my local comic shop (I have 3 kids), the people who work at the store treat my kids like they are regular customers. They don’t talk to them like they are children. They don’t ignore them when my kids are telling them a story. They ask my kids what their interests are, and listen to their stories.
Treating a kid with respect is important. Many times kids are often ignored at other retail stores, and a lot of times the parents are ignored as well. There have been several times when I’ve walked out of a store with my wife, because the staff wouldn’t give us the time of day. On a few of those occasions my wife has put her purchase back on the shelf because she didn’t like the way we were treated, and the store lost a $100 sale (I had the cash in my hand). So treating the whole family with respect is a good way to help promote sales in your store.
Another thing I do to get my kids interested in comics is designate one day a month (usually) that we go to the comic book shop as a family. We call it “Comic Book Sunday”. I let the kids look around and pick out a couple of books that they’d like to buy. Sometimes the books are trashed before we even get home, but they enjoy it. My son especially likes Comic Book Sunday. He has a short box in his room and he hides away all his comics and reads through them all the time. As a parent you have to watch what your children want. This past week my daughter grabbed a copy of Wolverine and I had to tell her to put it back because it wasn’t appropriate for her. It was a very violent issue and I had to explain to her that if she wanted to read Wolverine, she’d best pick out an X-Men comic. My son has learned that even though Deadpool is cool in movies and videogames, it isn’t appropriate for him to read Deadpool. It is too mature for him, which got me thinking: there is Deadpool Max, why not Deadpool All Ages?
One promotion that Big B Comics (my local shop) is running that will get kids interested in comics is the “Free Comics For A’s” program. At report card time, if a kid brings in a report card with A’s on it, they’ll get a free comic book for every A on their report card. This is a great promotion. And kids love anything that’s free. I was proud of my kids this year because between my two kids that are in school they had 10 A’s. They worked very hard this year on getting good grades. They also worked very hard at school telling all their classmates about the free comic books they got.
I was told that the program may change. Instead of A’s, the program will reward an improvement in your grades. So for example if you got a C in math, and were able to improve your grade to a B, you would be rewarded with a free comic book. I like this idea more. It is a fact of life that some kids, no matter how hard they try, will not get an A on their report card. At least this idea will reward their hard work, even though they just can’t seem to get that A.
Getting kids interested in comics is important for literacy of our youth and supporting your local comic book shop. I know there are lots of ways to get kids interested, and I have only touched on a couple. What does your local shop do, to help promote comics to young people? Have your say in the comments below.