Nancy Silberkleit is co-CEO of Archie Comic Publications, one of the most successful, longest-running brands in the history of the comic industry. Her vision is 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 in everyone. As a former public art school teacher, Silberkleit knows the importance of literacy; her personal motto is “Children + Comic Books = Reading, Knowledge, Confidence and Creativity.” She is the wife of the late Michael Silberkleit, who was the son of Archie Comics founder Louis Silberkleit, who founded Archie Comics in 1942 with his partner John L. Goldwater.
Silberkleit fervently believes that comic books can be used to engage a variety of learners, while promoting literacy and a love of reading—that the graphic comic book format enriches and develops the creative mind. As a former art teacher with 25 years of experience, she has often seen the power of comics in action as they encouraged literacy, storytelling and creativity in children. Additionally, she understands that comics teach children how to explore their artistic abilities through illustration, and that this is a natural progression—a bridge to reading from the picture books of their younger years. She speaks on this subject often, as well as on how she transitioned from the classroom to the boardroom, and on how youth can subvert bullying, a topic that plagues youth in epic proportions.
She created the popular Comic Book Fairs across North America as events to ignite interest in reading, as well as fund-raising initiatives for schools. Silberkleit sees comics as a powerful tool that stimulates and builds today’s children into tomorrow’s strong creative thinkers—ones that are prepared to approach complex situations. To this end, Silberkleit established the Rise Above Social Issues Foundation, Inc., a non-profit that addresses challenging social issues through comic books, such as childhood obesity and other chronic medical conditions, as well as bullying, discrimination and environmental concerns. She believes that by encouraging literacy, self-confidence and knowledge through age-accessible, non-threatening reading materials, we can stimulate creativity and tolerance in youth, and foster them to be a positive influence on peers. In the future, Silberkleit hopes to work with educators to establish after-school tutoring programs, which would include the development of lesson plans and more comic book fairs to engage children in literacy.
While Silberkleit is widely recognized as a unique voice in promoting literacy, her transition from educator to business leader also has people talking. She is an avid, sought-after speaker who has the rare ability to keep huge audiences enthralled. She has spoken at prestigious events around the world, such as the INK conference in association with TED. Her energetic style and warm, open and inspiring stories leave others with a desire to encourage positive change in themselves and in children.