Trying to keep teenagers interested in reading books isn't always easy. But librarian Erika Dow knows that finding the books that they like to read will keep them interested for life.
"We want to show teens that we care about what they are interested in," Dow said.
The history major, turned librarian, isn't just talking either. Last year she organized the county's first comic book convention for the county's teenagers. It was something that she had wanted to do since going to work for the library system and it turned out to be a huge success in its inaugural year, drawing nearly 250 kids and teens.
This year's convention set for Oct. 1 at the Manatee County Central Library promises to be even better, Dow said.
"Kids are defining what they are interested in and we have the stuff they are looking for," she said. "I want to make them aware of the collection."
Dow said the collections that appeal to teens get them interested in both reading and art.
Dow has been collecting items for the convention from book vendors who donated many of the books and prizes for the teenagers. The Friends of the Central Library is funding the Second Annual Mana-Con, a “mini” comics convention for teenagers.
The event will feature local comic shops The Comic Shack and Anime Fix and student artwork, games, a Hero Clix tournament, artists with items for sale and anime videos. The convention is geared towards teenagers and those 12-18 will get first priority for all of the activities and prizes.
Teens will be encouraged to get creative at the Doodle Booth or origami station. They also will learn about the history of comics and get a look at the library’s large graphic novel and manga collection, which will be on display and available for check-out. The Painted Eye will be on hand to paint faces and temporary tattoos from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tiffany Ciper (aka Hihoshi), anime artist and graphic designer, will lead an Anime Art workshop from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. There are 25 seats available for this free workshop and registration is required; ages 12- 18 are eligible. All art supplies will be provided.
Ciper conducted to popular seminars over the summer and created the posters for the library's Mana-Con. Her workshops are so popular that the Oct. 1 seminar is already half full. Dow encourages anyone who is interested in participating to make their reservations now.
The first 50 teenagers will receive Shonen Jump reusable bags (made from 100% recycled materials) filled with candy, glow bracelets, and other goodies. All kids and teens will receive a free comic and/or poster while supplies last.
A special prize of the fun book Papertoy Monsters will be given away to one workshop attendee. Check out the Mana-Con display at the Central Library to see examples of these wild paper creations.
Cool prizes will be given away every hour. There is some great stuff to give away, including Naruto DVDs and toys, full-color graphic novels like Astronaut Academy, and more. Library patrons of all ages to enjoy Mana-Con and the library will provide free Owly comics for attendees age 11 and under.