Nancy Silberkleit, daughter-in-law of Louis H. Silberkleit one of the founders of Archie Comics 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.”
She is the wife of the late Michael Silberkleit, who was the son of Archie Comics founder Louis Silberkleit, who with his partner John L. Goldwater founded Archie Comics in 1942. She furthers her agenda of why comic books are needed in classrooms and libraries with her fervent belief that comic books can be used to engage a variety of learners, while promoting literacy and a love of reading. She feels strongly that the graphic comic book format helps to enrich and develop the creative mind. She taught art for over 20 years and has seen the power of comics to encourage literacy and creativity in children. Children love to read comic books and graphic novels and often endeavor to mimic the format with their own creations. Comics teach children about storytelling and exploring their artistic abilities through illustration. It is a natural progression for children, as a bridge to reading from the picture books of their younger years. “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.”
Having recognized that young readers may not have access to comic books, she created the Comic Book Fairs at schools across America and Canada, as an event to ignite an interest in reading. They are also often used as fund-raising initiatives in which the schools earn monies through the sale of comic books. She sees comic books as another genre to our choices in literacy and a powerful tool to stimulate and build today’s children into strong creative thinkers that are prepared to approach complex situations.
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 for Nancy Silberkleit include the emphasizing of the use of the comic book in working with educators in the establishment of after-school tutoring programs, the development of lesson plans, and, of course, more comic book fairs across America to engage children in this format of literacy. The Archie Comics line of comic books is one of the most successful, longest-running brands in the history of the comic industry. Archie Comics have sold 5.1 billion comics and are published in a dozen different foreign languages and distributed all over the world. Archie Comics has spawned characters whose popularity has spilled over into other media and who have become part of popular culture. Archie Comic Publications is headquartered in Mamaroneck, NY.