It’s a bird, it’s a plane – It’s a Hilo man on a mission to make children read

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Mike Sado, owner of Enjoy Comics at Prince Kuhio Plaza in Hilo, struggles every day to build a better future, much like the superheroes in the books he sells. It not only creates a place where collectors and fans can purchase comics and related products, but a community with reading at its heart.

Sado has been running a youth literacy program since the comic book store opened in 2015. The program inspires kids to read by offering those 17 and under with a Hawaii library card a 10% discount on all purchases of regularly priced reading materials, including comics, graphic novels, paperbacks and hardcover books.

Keiki may also receive store credit based on his grades. Students who earn an A’s directly or equivalent can receive a $ 10 store credit and students who score a B’s or better, or the equivalent, a $ 5 credit. This credit can be used for any merchandise in the store. Students have 30 days after receiving their quarterly newsletter each quarter to bring it in store, along with their library card, to take advantage of the offer.

Sado also extended its promotion to $ 2 on Tuesdays after it reopened in May, after a seven-week closure due to the pandemic. The program applies to back issues older than seven or eight months. Kids can buy a book for just $ 2, regardless of the original price.

“When Covid hit families were strapped for cash and we didn’t want the kids to have no stuff to read, so what we did was we extended our Tuesdays to $ 2 every day of the week, “he said.

Mike Sado says humans have always told stories of right and wrong – the comics are just the latest version. Nathan Christophel / Civil Beat / 2021

Sado believes that the imagination is the cradle of all creativity.

“So without that imagination, we don’t invent, we don’t innovate on things that have already been invented,” he said. “We don’t build. We dont do.

He said that art, music and recreational reading, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy, stimulate and encourage creative minds. And putting reading materials in the hands of children fills a need in Hawaii.

According to Amy Truong, director of donations and operations at Hawaii Literacy, an organization that promotes literacy among children and adults, more than 155,000 people in the state – or one in six adults – are considered low-literate. Hawaii’s literacy rate is 85%, on par with the rest of the United States.

“The ability to read and understand text as well as writing are essential skills for students to successfully navigate in school and beyond,” said Esther Kanehailua, Area Superintendent of the Hilo-Complex. Waiakea.

Mandatory Hawaii Student Assessments in Grades 3-8 and 11, aligned with the Common Hawaii Core Standards, are designed to measure whether students are on track for college and graduation. career. The results for the 2018-2019 school year show that the students at the Hilo-Waiakea complex have, for the most part, met or exceeded the standards for passing English / literacy. The lowest level was for seventh-graders, with 48% meeting or exceeding standards, compared to 65% for high school juniors.

However, scores for other areas of the island of Hawaii were mostly lower than for the Hilo-Waiakea complex. The lowest was for fourth-graders in the Ka’u-Keaau-Pahoa complex area, with just 26% meeting or exceeding standards.

When it comes to reading, a student’s interest in a topic is very important – which is why comics have a role to play.

“Some students may find the topic uninteresting or have no prior knowledge of the topic to give them a picture in their minds of what’s going on” when they stumble upon a difficult word, said Kanehailua. “This is why the comics are so great!” “

Sado encourages people of all ages to read comics. “There are really good things out there,” he said, with intrigue and intrigue involving politics, society and other matters relevant to current events. The comics aren’t just a fun escape, he said.

The 55-year-old holds a master’s degree in social work with a focus on behavioral mental health and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Hawaii. Due to his longtime love of comics and reading, he wrote numerous articles on comics while also graduating.

“The reality is, as I was studying things, I realized that the reason why (comics are) still popular and so prevalent in our society today is because they are about something. which is super fundamental to us, ”Sado said.

Ever since humans began to come together in social groups, he said, they tell stories about creation, the evil deeds of men and gods, and the consequences of our behavior. Superhero stories aren’t much different.

The officials of the Hilo school welcome the involvement of the community to encourage children to read. Nathan Christophel / Civil Beat / 2021

“We have to keep telling these stories,” Sado said. “We need to continue to introduce future generations to these wonderful stories that are just fun and awesome.”

It is important for him to pass these stories and his love of reading on to the next generation, which is why he offers the literacy program.

“These programs are wonderful,” Kanehailua said. “The more we can connect with the community, especially with the literature that students like, connect and appreciate, the better.”

Truong said community initiatives can be very effective in helping to increase literacy rates.

“When the message that reading is important and fun is spread to different places, not just where people expect it, it will reach a wider audience,” she said.

But if Enjoy Comics offers these programs and many other community events to get keiki interested in reading, it needs the support of the community.

“I tell people all the time that ‘buy local’ is a practice, it’s not a slogan,” Sado said. “And I’m not telling people not to shop at Target, not to shop at Walmart… What I’m asking is to come see us first.”


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