Comics in the Library

Slogan TextThe theme of the summer reading program this year is “heroes,” and superheroes seems to be one of the most popular ways to express this theme, so comic books are a natural choice for reading material.

In December, a children’s librarian asked me if any North Dakota libraries had comic book clubs because she was thinking of starting one. After an informal survey,  it appears that no North Dakota libraries have comic book clubs.

The closest related programming response was from the Grand Forks Public Library. They have an Animanga (Anime/Manga) club, with meetings the first and third Thursdays of the month that go from 6 to 8:30 PM. Members range from middle school teens to college-age adults. They generally watch one series a month, and occasionally play games or doodle in sketch books while discussing anime and Manga.

I researched comic book clubs in libraries, so I thought I’d share with you what I found, which turned out to be a bit more diverse that just comics. The resources below include comics, as well as graphic novels, anime, and Manga.

First of all, ALA members looking to create or expand your graphic novel collection or programming should check out the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant, which “provides support to a library that would like to expand its existing graphic novel services and programs,” and the Will Eisner Graphic Novel Innovation Grant, which “provides support to a library for the initiation of a graphic novel service, program or initiative.” The application deadline is January 26.

If you are attending ALA Midwinter, there is a special ASCLA Institute called Using Comics to Promote Literacy at All Levels.

To get started, the Youth Services Librarianship wiki has an overview of Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels.


In May there is a Free Comic Book Day, which we blogged about last year. This year, the date is Saturday, May 2. This is not free comics for your library, but a day when comic book stores give away comic books to visitors. If you have a local comic shop, it could be a great partnership opportunity. If you are new to comics, the site has a “Get Into Comics” section.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is another useful resource. The CBLDF “is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers.” They have Librarian Tools, and a guide for Raising a Reader.

DC Comics and Marvel are also great resources for information on specific comics and characters.  Marvel has a site for kids with downloadable activities. DC Comics has a Fan Family site. You can follow them on social media to keep up on the latest news.

Good Keen Librarian has a post about using a comic club in a school library to encourage students to write. She posted what they did for the first two weeks.

Neill Cameron has a five part series on Comics and Literacy. Part 3 includes other ideas beyond a comics club.

YALSA’s The Hub has a great post called Take a Closer Look at Comics that talks about assessing storytelling elements in comic books and graphic novels. They also have a series on Women in Comics.

Update: Also check out the guest post at StackedGetting Started with Comics” by Becca and Allison of This Week in Ladies.


School Library Journal has a blog called Good Comics for Kids that covers kids’ comics from birth to age 16. One post specifically addresses running a graphic novel book club.

Scholastic has a guide for teachers and librarians on using graphic novels with children and teens.

YALSA has an annual list of Great Graphic Novels for Teens.


Abby the Librarian has a post on how to run a Teen Anime Club, which she says practically runs itself, even if you don’t know anything about anime.

The Brookline Teen Librarian has a post about their Manga and Anime Club with a lengthy list of frequently asked questions, a section specifically for parents, and additional resources.

The Show Me  Librarian has a post about her teen-driven Anime Club, which she counts as unprogramming. (To learn more about unprogramming, check out her series with Tiny Tips for Library Fun.)

Do you have any tips for using comic books, graphic novels, Manga, or anime in the library? Share your experiences in the comments!


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