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Local Detroit Superheroes Want Kids to Read More

Father reading to his sons

With screens of varying sizes taking over our daily lives, fewer people take the time to pick up physical books anymore. And sadly, that trend includes our children. Although more than half of nine-year-old kids read every day, just 17% will still be reading daily by the end of high school.

And across the Detroit region, local citizens are taking it upon themselves to close that reading gap. Detroit comics enthusiast and convention organizer Maia Crown Williams is organizing the second annual Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts, or MECCAcon, this September. The convention will promote the work of comic book creators of color, including artists from Detroit.

“It is my mission to make sure that children know that all ‘heroes’ do not look the same, that many actually look just like them,” says Williams.

Studies show that when kids can personally relate to protagonists, they’re more likely to keep reading. And Williams isn’t the only hero on a mission to get kids reading. Chelsea Liddy has organized another comics convention called ComiqueCon this November in Dearborn, which will focus on women in comics, both on page and behind the scenes.

“I kept seeing ‘women in comics’ panels at major conventions and I just started thinking that what women had to say about working in comics could take up an entire convention,” Liddy says.

And now it will. Liddy is also working with local comic book shops and artists to organize the event. The creators hope that highlighting more diverse comic books will help inspire a more diverse comic book audience. Because although comic book superhero films have been dominating the box office for nearly 10 years, the films almost always feature white, male heroes.

Earlier this summer, the Ann Arbor Downtown Library hosted another event specifically for kids, the Seventh Annual Kids Read Comics Convention. And it’s projects like that that make the Detroit area the perfect venue for events like Comiquecon and MECCAcon, Liddy says.

“It’s a super diverse region and there is a ton of talent in the area…I think that when we work together, we can really make change.”

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