YA 101: Graphic Novels and Manga

When I stumbled upon these two genres I had to know more.  I always thought graphic novels were, well, graphic.  You know, in the sense of things happening and the author describes them in very graphic terms.  Man, was I way off.  Graphic novels are actually chapter comic books.   They usually have complex stories that are told through pictures and dialogue.  Graphic – as in artist.

Graphic novels are great for young readers and teens because they encourage reading for pleasure and their pictures can lure in the most reluctant of readers to pick up a book.  Kids and teens also love superheroes.  If you’re an adult, think back to your childhood and your fascination with Superman, The Green Hornet, Spiderman, The Avengers.  Those heroes are still popular today, but instead of reading about them in comic book form, they have now taken the stage in books where children are introduced to themes, plots, structures and narrative, which means vocabulary.  The pictures add to the excitement and tend to encourage independent reading.

Manga is a genre of its own but it is also a graphic novel.  What’s the big difference?  Manga is generated in Japan.  Manga (often referred to as ‘anime’ – which is actually the animated form of manga) is divided into several categories and sub-categories and are often marketed to the sexes:

shounen for boys – these are action/adventure stories.  Think Bleach and Naruto

shoujo –  these stories are targeted for girls and are usually lighthearted and sweet, romances.  Think Kobato and Vampire Knight

There are even Manga stories for adults that are a bit more ‘graphic’ in the blood and guts kind of graphic.

In writing this post, I found out that one of my favorite books of all time, Fahrenheit 451 has been converted into a graphic novel.  Check it out here.  I have mixed feelings about this, but then again, I’m a reader.  For those kids who aren’t…this is a fantastic way to get those stubborn readers into gobbling up some of the classics and ‘must reads’ of a lifetime.

What are some popular YA Graphic Novels and Manga?


Truthfully, I’m going to have to check out Flight of Angels.  It sounds amazing!