Thursday, March 22, 2007

On Graphic Novels

I know nothing about graphic novels. I have happily read American Born Chinese and muscled through Blankets, but I know nothing about the substantial number of series to which my library subscribes.

I should know.

It's not that I've ignored the genre. It's not that I believe that teens should be reading books without pictures. It's that it seems like such a huge undertaking to learn about each of these novels. I understand that it's my job and my duty to know how to do readers' advisory on each of the genres in my collection, but how much of my personal reading time should this job take? I know that if I ever plan to be on a YALSA Selection Committee, I'll need to be prepared to read anywhere between 3 and 5 YA books a week.

But right now, I feel like my adult sensibilities are being tossed by the wayside by an onslaught of teen fiction, and reading about a boy who turns into a girl when doused with water and whose father turns into panda bear is asking more from me than I feel ready to give.

Diving into that big, deep pool that is graphic novels seems like more than I can handle at the moment.

Does anyone have any suggestions for making graphic novel reading more enjoyable? Or do you just want to join me in whining about the above-and-beyond forty hour work week?


MuzikMakers said...

I wasn't sure how interested I was going to be in graphic novels either. Turns out, though, that there is a lot of variety in the medium. When I did a project for my MLS, I chose the area of biographies and autobiographies in graphic form in order to stay away from superheroes and manga (neither of which are that great to me). As it turns out, there's a lot out there and I was pleasantly surprised with how literary some of them are. I have a few reviews on my blog if you'd like some suggestions. Click on the label for "graphic novels" to see all of them. I hope you find one you'll like.

differentfrogs said...

I've actually found that graphic novels, or at least manga series, is one area where you don't have to read a whole lot to build a good collection. In my experience, teens that read manga don't need any encouragement to pick up books. And if you need suggestions, just try to befriend a teen who you see regularly using the collection. In my experience, many teens are flattered and jump at the chance to make a list of books they would like the library to purchase. It makes them feel invested in the library and lets them know you value their thoughts and opinions.

I also take recommendations for graphic novels to read from teens. I'm usually a lot more excited to read yet another version of--the girl who for some nonsensical, but somehow valid, reason has to dress up as a boy and attend an all boys school--after I've had it booktalked to me by a teen, and got to see yow excited he or she was about it, even if I can't really understand why. Forty hour work week? Wow that would be nice...

Professional Teenager said...

Muzik - Thanks for the suggestion! I like the look of your site :). I have even read a couple of the graphic novels on your list - yay! As far as biographies go, we just received the Pope John Paul II biography graphic novel...I think it's already checked out!

Frogs - It's amazing, the teens don't need any encouragement or any suggestions, but it's the parents who come in asking for ideas and the other librarians who don't feel comfortable giving them anything that make me need to read these books. Thank goodness I've got at least a few younger library employers who are MORE than willing to fill me in on what should and should not grace the shelves of our graphic novel collection!