Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – Raising Geeks Part Two – Reading Comics

My two daughters struggled a bit with early reading.  They were perfectly capable, but they lacked the motivation to really immerse themselves in books.  For both of them, but especially my 13 year old, comic books provided a stepping stone from cardboard picture books to text only books.  I thought my approach was odd, but effective, until they had a panel at Salt Lake Comic Con on the topic.


I Learned to Read Because of Comics

The second panel I attended on raising geeks was specifically about using comic books to help children read.  This panel, as I mentioned earlier, was of great interest to me due to personal experience.  Comic books bridged a much needed gap in my children developing into full readers.

The panelists were Andrew Malin (comic buyer and professor, moderator), Trent Hunsaker (comic store owner), Chris Bodily (illustrator), and Shannon Barnson (school teacher).

Andrew opened the discussion talking about his own bad experiences.  He started to read fine, but had a less than supportive teacher in his early years.  He did not read another full book for enjoyment until he was in high school.  Several of the other panelists had a similar early frustrations.  Comic books provided many of these people with the enjoyment of reading and bridged into more advanced reading, including many classics.

Shannon uses comic books in his classroom to help his students learn to read.  He mentioned that the comic books provide a context to the text and therefore makes it easier on a student who is trying to learn to read.  He uses it greatly in ESL teaching as well.

Another benefit that was mentioned of comic book reading is that it appeals to students who learn from various methods.  If your child is a visual learner or a kinesthetic (hands-on) learner, they are often not fulfilled from traditional educational methods.  Comic books provide an alternate means of teaching children who learn better using these techniques.

The key to reading is providing your child with something they want to read.  The entire panel agreed on this point, and I agree entirely.  My children learned to enjoy reading through different comic books.  My 13 year old learned to read with X-men.  My 9 year old embraced My Little Pony.

The panel suggested trying:
Avengers Assemble
DC Brave and Bold
Adventure Time
Marvel Essentials
DC Showcase
Marvel Unlimited (subscription, on-demand) (resource with teaching guides using comics)
Classics Illustrated
Superheroes – PBS series available on Netflix

The panel, and several of the attendees, brought up suggestions to help bring comic books into our libraries and schools.  When comic books are grouped into an anthology, they are given an ISBN like any other book.  Many libraries have a way of suggesting books to add to their collection.

Another way to get involved is forming clubs and groups to help exchange and nourish the hobby.  This  enables voices of fans to become united and help their community realize the demand for comic books.  Additionally, Girl Scouts has a badge for Cadette level girls to create their own comic books.  Many comic book stores are very excited to have groups like this visit and are very willing to help.


Comic books provide an excellent resource to help those struggling with reading.  Whether this is due to bad experiences or just a lack of interest, they can bridge the gap between board books and full text novels.  There are several great comic books out there to help and many enthusiasts willing to make suggestions.  Get your children to embrace reading by helping them find something they will enjoy.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – Raising Geeks Part One – Geek Parenting

Growing up as a geek was difficult. Most of us had a hard time fitting in. Sometimes it was purely mental; we didn’t feel accepted. In many cases, it was very real. Whether it was role-playing games, computer games, or comic books, the “cool” crowd usually sneered and walked away. We fear our kids may suffer the same problems.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 had several panels related to this issue. How do we raise our own geeks and help them feel accepted for whatever geek genre they enjoy? How do we stay involved in their hobby if we don’t “geek out” about it ourselves? Answers to these questions and similar problems were found in this panel.

Geek Parenting: Raising the next Generation of Geeks

The first of the two panels I attended on the subject was the broader panel about raising geeks. The panelists were Scott William Taylor (Author and Screenwriter), Sandra Tayler (Author), Kristal Starr (Hello Sweetie Podcast), John W. Otte (Author), Angie Lofthouse (Author), and Jenny Krompel (Voice Actor).

The first topic discussed was the challenges of raising geek children. All parents worry about their children fitting in, but with geek children it tends to be a larger concern. We do live in a more geek accepting society. However, with the availability of computers and movies at home, we are less socially active than we had to be decades ago. This created different concerns than when we were growing up.

There were several recommends to deal with this problem. It was suggested to let your geek embrace whatever specific niche they are drawn toward and find friends with similar interests, including clubs and writing groups. To help deal with the lack of social interaction, take your geeks out in public on field trips, or geo-caching. I remember spending time at the gaming store when I grew up, but now things like FaceBook and forums have changed the social dynamic. The issues of acceptance and social awkwardness concern me as a parent of two geeks as well.

My two daughters are very different from each other. My 13 year old is big into role-playing games, anime, and Star Wars. My 9 year old is much more focused on My Little Pony and princesses. They have both struggled to find friends to share their passion with, but that is starting to change. I play a lot of role-playing games and computer games as well as my writing. The panel suggested sharing your passion, but understand that they may pursue their own interests. My daughters do sometimes play games with me, but also spend a lot of time on different hobbies.

We have some wonderful museums, a zoo, and an aquarium in our area. When we go to the zoo, I come up with various challenges for my daughters to think about. One was to figure out what type of dragon would be appropriate for the African Savannah. Another challenge was to draw a chimera from animals in the same regions. It has helped them learn about the real world and embrace their creative sides while working on a project. They are also active in library groups and Girl Scouts, both great places for social interaction.

Another concern that was brought up, by an attendee, involved being involved in your child’s niche. The panel agreed that you do not need to be 100% involved in any given interest, especially with multiple children, but it helps to ask them about their hobby. This also allows you, as a parent, to verify that what your child is doing is appropriate for your ethical or moral standards. As an example, they were worried about violence in video games. Being involved in your child’s passion is our best tool in helping our child develop morals, set standards, and help them understand the difference between reality and fantasy. In short, it is our way to help them grow into respectable members of geek society. However, it was also pointed out that as your children mature, especially into late teenage years, we need to remember that they are going to be making more choices that we will not agree with. It is important to understand why they are pursuing these interests, again by talking with your child.

Many of my fears were addressed.  The panelists gave great recommendations, many of which I already utilize.  Have faith in your geeks.  Be there for them.  Above all, talking with your geek is the best way to be a Geek Parent.

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – Opening Press Conference

As the press filed in to the South Ballroom of the Salt Palace for the Press Conference, we noticed something different. The TARDIS was on the stage. Several first responders were already present. Even some cosplayers had joined them. However, the … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014

We scored our passes at the Salt Palace Convention Center soon after 8 am Thursday.  We had a nice breakfast at JBs on the corner of West Temple and South Temple after getting things settled (one of the restaurants we missed from our list). … [Continue reading]

The night before Salt Lake Comic Con

Geek socks bought this week from JC Penney, Big Bang Theory.

We had a bit of a shopping spree today.  I needed new shoes if I'm to keep up with the crew.  While shopping we saw some new nightgowns for the girls that we just had to have.  We wouldn't be proper gaming parents without.  There is even a panel at … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – Preparing for Comic Con – Local Food

Simply Sushi dine there during Salt Lake Comic Con

Update: We've added hours and some website links. 9/1/2014 Attending Comic Con is hard work. Gamers, Cosplayers, Geeks, and Nerds all need food to keep running. There are food courts in the Salt Palace, as well as nearby malls (Gateway and … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – Preparing for Comic Con – Local Vendors to See

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 is coming up, fast! We are less than one month away from the event. It is time to prepare. Grab your calendar, get a pen, plan which celebrities to see, but what do you do between awesome panels? The vendor's hall has always … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con 2014 – July Press Release

Be sure to go to to buy your tickets now!

Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg again held a press conference. This time, they were escorted by the armed guards of the Umbrella Corporation. Dan and Bryan shared some wonderful statistics, some details of plans, and a whole new set of guests for this … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con September 2014 – May Press Conference

Today, tickets went on sale for Salt Lake Comic Con for September 2014. Along with aggressive ticket discounts, six incredible guests were announced. Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg were escorted in by the 501st legion for the press … [Continue reading]

Salt Lake Comic Con Fan Xperience – Dungeons and Dragons Next

Comic Con featured both a panel and sample of Dungeons and Dragons Next. Although I have seen some of the material, I could never assemble a group to try it out on my own time. This was my first exposure to actual play and the panel provide insight, … [Continue reading]