HCPL Engages Teens in HCJPD Facilities with Innovative Manga Program

Young Adults and Graphic Novels

Many young adult audiences like to read graphic novels. The teen residents at Harris County’s Juvenile Probation centers that my fellow JPD specialist, Michael G., and I work with are no exception. When we visit to do book checkout with the residents, we often find them searching for graphic novels. They like to read Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Marvel, and DC Comics. We have been wanting to interest the residents in the other types of graphic novels we have in our collection – like manga books.

Since the early 2000s, young adults in the U.S. have fueled a surge in manga's popularity.  Recently, even Netflix cashed in on the trend with live-action adaptations of popular manga series like One Piece and Death Note. We felt like we should take advantage of young adults’ interest in manga by creating a program for the JPD residents that would introduce them to manga's art style, as well as the manga books we have in the collection.

The Program

Michael G. came up with a manga program for the JPD residents where they were able to create their own manga characters. He created pre-made stencils for the residents to trace on paper that gave them a choice of hairstyles, and outfits, and a text bubble for the residents to fill in with their own words. They were able to create a character that looked like it came right out of a manga book.

The residents were able to use manga books from our collection as inspiration for their drawings and were pleased that their drawings resembled what they found in the books. We saw the residents show interest in the manga books they hadn’t previously noticed in the graphic novel collection and talked of checking them out from the library the next time we did book checkout.

Young Adults' Reaction to the Program

When asked about the program, Michael G. said, “The program was created, like all of our library programming, to connect our patrons to books in our collection.  Many of the boys had never picked up a Manga graphic novel before, and they were surprised that you read them backward.  It was great to see them exploring the books while they were adding details, such as speech text, facial feature details, and shading ideas, from the books we shared with them to look at during programming. I think that once they got to the point of adding more specific details, they already felt confident enough to add to their drawing on their own. That was my measure of success for the project- that all the boys came up with drawings that looked so different. It was amazing to see them motivated and involved in their own work.”

"I asked some of the JPD residents what they thought of the manga program once they had completed it. One resident at Harris County’s Juvenile Justice Center said, “It was amazing, and I liked that we got to choose from different stencils what we wanted out character to look like.” Another resident at Harris County’s Youth Village said, “It was just a really nice program. I love Manga because you get to learn about other people’s cultures, and reading backward is really interesting.” It is great to see the positive impact our work with Harris County’s Juvenile Probation Department has on their residents and to share with them what the library has to offer the community!

Below is a list of Manga graphic novels popular in HCJPD's library collection:

Dragon Ball Z



Death Note

One Piece