Solvay Public Library Gets Kids Excited About Reading Through its First Comic Con Solvay Public Library Hosts its First Comic Con

AMALIA BROWNELL: Brian Rowlands is the Librarian’s Assistant at the Solvay Public Library and person in charge of the library’s Comic Con. He says convincing kids to make the jump from picture books to chapter books can be difficult. Luckily, graphic novels are there to help bridge that gap.

BRIAN ROWLANDS: The graphic novels are basically just chapter books now anyways. / They’ve got pictures, but it’s dialogue, it’s reading, it’s the same grade level as a chapter book. Anything to get them reading and if you can throw in Spiderman, that’ll get kids reading.

BROWNELL: So events like the library’s Comic Con come to be, hoping to appeal to those Spiderman fans and others.

ROWLANDS: If we can get them in then we can convince them hopefully to take a book and read something while they’re here.

BROWNELL: The event will be held from six to eight tonight in the library’s downstairs community room. Amalia Brownell, N-C-C News

SOLVAY, N.Y. (NCC News) – Solvay Public Library held its first-ever Comic Con as part of its summer reading program this Monday (July 31st). Brian Rowlands, the librarian’s assistant at the library, had hosted a Superhero Day at the library years prior and thought a Comic Con was the best way to build on that idea.

“I do the superhero day every summer,” says Rowlands. “It was just a small thing. You’d just get, like, 10 to 15 kids in here and dress up, do crafts, watch an “Avengers” movie or something. And Jesse, who owns Funky Town Comics, said ‘I want to do something for the library,’ I thought, just make that and make it bigger.”

So, the library’s first Comic Con came to be, with an evening full of activities. Along with Funky Town Comics, which will be giving away some comics to the kids, Solvay Library will also have a DJ, a Mario Kart Tournament, and even comic book artist Chris Brunner who illustrated a variety of comics, including “Spiderman”, as well as “Who Was the Greatest?: Muhammed Ali.” Rowlands says that events like this are great to help kids get into the library and reading. He finds that comics and graphic novels specifically are great for convincing more hesitant kids to get into reading.

“The graphic novels are basically just chapter books now anyways,” Rowlands says. “They’ve got pictures, but it’s dialogue, it’s reading, it’s the same grade level as a chapter book. Anything to get them reading and if you can throw in “Spiderman,” that’ll get kids reading.”

When facing resistant readers, Rowlands uses pop culture to find something the kid may like. Popular shows, like “Stranger Things,” often have companion graphic novels, and comics like “Sonic the Hedgehog” are so popular now, Rowlands finds most volumes are often checked out.

“Once you get them into reading [graphic novels], you can show them ‘oh here’s a chapter book that’s like that or maybe even is that’, just without the pictures, and just get them to keep reading,” says Rowlands.

But events like this go beyond reading. After COVID, many people struggled to go out and form connections after being kept inside for so long. Rowlands says that events like this can help kids make new friends and find a community.

“It’s good to get them reading, it’s better to get them interacting. Especially after COVID, kids don’t know how to interact with people anymore,” Rowlands says. “Anything that gets them in person, meeting people, reading, I think it’s really positive for us and the whole community.”


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