For those unfamiliar with manga beyond industry coverage of its latest resurgence in popularity making it difficult to find on library and bookstore’s shelves, maximizing its potential in your library or classroom can seem daunting. Even well-versed manga readers may need help aligning the medium with their curricula needs, or expanding their go-to recommendations beyond the popular series readers are already deeply familiar with.
While you’ve probably heard of some of the most popular manga series like Attack on Titan, Berserk, Demon Slayer, My Hero Academia, and Naruto, if you’re responsible for building a diverse, representative collection of manga for a range of readers, you’re going to have to expand your knowledge beyond those titles.
Building a Diverse Manga Collection
Manga is an incredibly diverse medium and there are a lot of opportunities to get lost in the weeds as you begin, or refine, your collection development strategy to incorporate it. Worse, you might deprive your readers of serendipitous discovery by only focusing on the most popular titles they already know about.
Our Manga 101 primer covers the basics, helping you get a better understanding of what manga is, its unique categories, and some key titles to consider for your collection and/or readers’ advisory recommendations. We’re excited to expand our resources, including specific title recommendations for every Comics Plus package and age tier, that will help you engage your readers and support your educational partners.
We’ve launched two new curated collections that spotlight recommendations for readers looking for traditional manga originally published in Japan, or a wide variety of Manga-inspired readalikes from Western creators.
Want to dive in even further? Our in-house manga fanatic, Rob Randle, teamed up with our in-house librarian, Moni Barrette, to explain manga’s unique categories and recommend key titles available in Comics Plus for every age and interest. And Moni has identified specific titles to incorporate Manga in the classroom at every age level.
Manga in the Classroom
Knowing where to start with manga can be overwhelming, but these recommendations are perfect starting points for school and library settings. Each one is age-appropriate for its audience and includes a practical approach for incorporating the title into lesson plans and library programs.
The Discovery of Anime & Manga by Oliver Chin, Phil Amara, & Juan Calle
Read it: Two adorable children, Ethan and Emma, follow their curiosity to a local comic book convention where Doa, a small red panda, appears and teaches them the history of anime and manga. They travel magically back in time, starting in 12th century Japan, and the adventure only becomes more delightful from there. Packed with cute characters, lively illustrations, and a historically accurate plot, this is an excellent title for beginning manga readers and budding anime enthusiasts.
Teach it: The Discovery of Anime & Manga is an excellent starting point for readers of all ages and levels before diving into manga itself. They will not only learn how to read it, but where it started, and how it grew into a worldwide phenomenon, offering multiple opportunities for productive classroom discussions. Back matter includes a helpful glossary, and Immedium also has several free resources available, including coloring pages (PDF) and activities (PDF).
Manga Math Mysteries: The Runaway Puppy: A Mystery with Probability by Lydia Barriman & Becky Grutzik
Read it: Amy has a new puppy, Brada, who everyone in her neighborhood instantly adores. She leaves Brada at home and heads to school, where the class learns about probability and applies it to a practical exercise. When she returns home, realizing the gate was left open and Brada is missing, Amy and her friends apply their knowledge of probability to narrow down where they should search. Despite the unlikelihood of runaway pets using a logical pattern, the story—and the overall Manga Math Mysteries series—is a fun vehicle for familiarizing grade school-age students with mathematical concepts while tapping into their interest in manga.
Teach it: This title and series are perfect for the classroom. Along with a thorough handling of the probability lesson, social & emotional learning is also explored as the friends interact and support each other’s feelings about the missing Brada. They seek adult assistance but ultimately are empowered by their own knowledge to solve the missing dog mystery. An easy way to complement lessons on probability and the importance of having, and being part of, a supportive community.
Ludwig B by Osamu Tezuka
Read it: Franz Kreuzstein seeks to destroy all those named “Ludwig” after his mother dies from being startled by a peacock bearing the name. Meanwhile, budding composer Ludwig van Beethoven has more than his share of hardships struggling with hearing loss and at the whim of his alcoholic father. The titular Ludwig is sympathetic from the start, with the challenges he faced even in early life make for a fascinating teen level read. While this title is certainly approachable for those new to manga, avid fans of the medium will appreciate that this is the last and unfinished work of Osamu Tezuka, the “Godfather of Manga” himself. Having visited many of Beethoven’s historically significant locations first-hand, Tezuka’s depiction of Beethoven is fleshed out with believable characterization. Both volumes are a testament to one culturally significant artist’s perception of another.
Teach it: This manga adaptation of the prolific composer’s life is detailed and accurate enough to use for a comprehensive book report, but disclaimers about culturally insensitive character renderings provide a talking point, as both Beethoven’s story and Tezuka’s depiction of him are artifacts of their respective times and cultures.
Manga Classics: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe & Stacy King
Read it: Beautifully adapted by Stacy King and artists Chagen, Linus Liu, Uka Nagao, Virginia Nitouhei, and pikomaro, this selection of Poe’s work includes the best-known hits: The Tell-Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Fall of the House of Usher. Each tale gets its own chapter and artist, and is an excellent way to introduce these classics to a new generation of manga fans.
Teach it: Older teens (and even adults) will love discovering or reconnecting with the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe in manga form, and Manga Classics offers free, comprehensive Teacher’s Guides to support the use of their popular adaptations of literary classics in classrooms.
How to Draw Manga by Antarctic Press
Read It: This multi-volume series by professional artists, including Ben Dunn and Fred Perry, begins with the essential basics on drawing manga, and expands from there. Black and white throughout, the focus is squarely on demonstrating technique and evolving one’s skills. Starting with an explanation of manga art paper, the text interweaves the history and origins of manga as an art form in a very natural flow, along with step-by-step drawing instructions. Everything from pencil recommendations to the essentials of manga eyes and portraying expressions are covered. Although the text is accessible to all readers, and the techniques are broken down for absolute beginners to understand, it also involves detailed attention to anatomy, so this series is most appropriate for mature teen and adult aspiring artists.
Teach It: This series could serve as the foundation of an art class, workshop, or makerspace activities for older teens, or recommended to mature aspiring artists or storytellers interested in manga. Practical exercises are included that can be done alone or as group activities, for in-person or virtual settings.
Circulate all the Manga!
“This is probably the strongest manga subscription service available in English outside of Shonen Jump and Crunchyroll.” School Library Journal
In our Resource Center, you’ll find a range of marketing materials and other resources to help take advantage of the resurgent interest in Manga and drive circulation in your library. (We’re also experimenting with LibGuides and have created a Manga Overview there, too. Let us know what you think!)
You should also engage your readers to find out what they’re already reading AND watching on their own. Beyond our resources, familiarize yourself with other great manga resources, including Good Comics for Kids, Manga Bookshelf, Manga Librarian, and No Flying No Tights.
With Comics Plus, schools and libraries have unlimited, simultaneous to thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga, allowing them to maximize circulation through book clubs, reading programs, makerspace activities, and other engaging initiatives. For more information about Comics Plus sign up for a FREE demo at comicsplusapp.com, follow us on LinkedIn, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.