Introduction

Manga is more and more popular amongst young people, but there is so much less published in America for kids then for teens and adults. Here’s a roundup of manga for kids to add to your collection or to check for which volumes to replace!

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Kuma Chan

This classic story of a girl growing up has been beautifully adapted into manga format. Anne Shirley, a precocious orphan girl, was sent to the Cuthberts’ home of Green Gables by accident. The Cuthberts, siblings Marilla and Matthew, were hoping to adopt a boy to help around the farm, but they got Anne instead, a girl full of imagination and spunk. Readers will fall in love with Anne's outgoing, bubbly personality, and root for her to achieve her dreams despite the gender roles and stereotypes she is up against.

Appeals to

Fans of the classic novel

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Ascendance of a Bookworm

Miya Kazuki

In a past life, a bookworm is crushed to death by her beloved books, and she finds herself reincarnated into the body of a very young, very frail, little girl in a world still in its Middle Ages. Parchment is rare and expensive, and almost no one is taught how to read. All she wants in her new life is to be able to read a book, but the rarity of the items and skills makes this a very daunting task for young Myne. Through her adventures of recreating clay tablets and papyrus, to her training for one of the few professions that require reading books, Myne learns to appreciate the people in her new life, as well as some other things that are not books. Myne is a sweet character that readers can connect with and root for, even though the odds are horribly stacked against her.

Appeals to

Bookworms, fans of fantasy manga

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Cardcaptor Sakura

CLAMP

Sakura is a 4th grader who loves sports and hanging out with her best friend Tomoyo, who dresses her up in custom-made outfits. She also is a magical girl, bound to capture all of the Clow cards that have escaped and are causing mischief. When not stopping flower hurricanes or sneaking into museums to steal paintings, she's helping out around the house and sorting out her feelings about her brother's friend, Yukito. All in a day's work for a magical girl!

Appeals to

While the covers are very flowery, and the art tends towards frilly, the story covers adventures of creative thinking, ghosts, and magical creatures. There's humor, but also darkness, and the magic is just cool, so this appeals to any reader looking for a more fashionable adventure story or a romance story that also has feats of derring-do.

Content Notes

There is a subplot that implies a teacher is dating one of his students, and significant age gaps in relationships, in general, are seen. Also, the main character's mother is deceased, for readers sensitive to that topic.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Cells at Work: Baby

Yasuhiro Fukuda

A spin-off of the original Cells at Work series, this one focuses on cells inside a baby's body. We open up on the tiny cells receiving oxygen deliveries from the mother's cells, but tremors throughout the building announce the birthing process has started. Once the baby is on its own, the series goes through how the mother continues to support the baby cells, like transferring immunity-boosting information through milk. The baby cells have to learn how to do their jobs and keep their body alive, but it's amazing how much information these cells all seem to have, all from genetic coding passed down from the parents! There is a lot of scientific information in this series, so this would be awesome for readers who want a primer on how the body works. Just like Cells at Work, the body is presented as a large factory, so no actual body parts are shown as the cells navigate the "hallways" and built-in bureaucracy of navigating their tasks.

Appeals to

Readers who are interested in science, biology, and the human body. It's also extremely funny, so fans of humor manga will also appreciate this (and maybe learn some science along the way).

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Chi's Sweet Home

Kanata Konami

Chi is a rambunctious kitten, as her adoptive family (young son, mother, and father) quickly finds out when they add her to their no-pets apartment. Her random antics in and out of their abode will have readers either recognizing their own cat or feeling relieved Chi is not their responsibility.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Content Notes

There is one instance of mild adult language, but this is otherwise suitable for all ages

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Dinosaur Hour!

Hitoshi Shioya

Lots of dinosaur facts and short dramas between dinosaurs with lots of jokes and eating each other.

Appeals to

Fans of dinosaurs and silly jokes.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamonroll

Yumi Tsukirino

Cinnamoroll is a very special puppy who can fly by flapping his long ears. He lives at a sweet shop called Café Cinnamon and loves to hang out with his puppy friends. Together, they have lots of whimsical adventures!

Appeals to

Fans of puppies and cute things; readers who want sweet, feel-good adventures

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Flying Witch

Chihiro Ishuzuka

When Makoto moves in with some relatives in a new city, she learns her way around town as well as how to handle magic in this gentle slice of life that includes a talking cat.

Appeals to

Young witches in training, enjoyers of Japanese culture, cat lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Giant Spider and Me

Kikori Morino

This is the sweetest story full of potential but not actually messy ingredients. The giant spider is more like a teddy bear. The POV protagonist, Nagi, lives on her own in a post-apocalyptic world, but the focus of the story is about how she gets by and the food she prepares for herself. An inventive setting within the slice of life genre.

Appeals to

Fans of post-apocalypse stories, cooking, giant pets, survival

Content Notes

A character points a rifle at the spider in the third volume

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Hana-chan and the Shape of the World

Ryotaro Ueda

Buckle up for Hana's adventures in her small town! From quests for rations in the middle of a typhoon to robots in a field, this collection of short adventures will delight and befuddle you.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy the whimsy of Studio Ghibli movies and Yotsuba's absurd humor may want to check this out.

Content Notes

There are a couple of scary parts that may be unnerving for some readers. There is a section where characters are drawn with monstrous features. There's also one set in an old, abandoned house where there's a futon with dark stains; it's not clear if there's actually blood. Neither part goes into full-on horror though.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hikaru no Go

Yumi Hotta

Takeshi Obata

Sixth-grader Hikaru is haunted by the ghost of an ancient Go player who wants Hikaru to find skilled opponents in the timeless board game. Hikaru becomes interested in the game, and in the process, he includes making a name for himself in a gaming scene replete with colorful characters and competitive egos.

Appeals to

Gamers, fans of intense rivalries

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Kirby Manga Mania

Hirokazu Hikawa

Kirby, Nintendo's videogame and cartoon mascot, stars in his very own manga! Kirby is a pink puffball who can inhale an astounding amount of matter and use all kinds of abilities. Kirby and the extended cast from the games, including many anthropomorphic animals and unique creatures, get into chaotic adventures from chapter to chapter. Slapstick, sight gags, and funny faces are stuffed into each page.

Appeals to

The endlessly silly, Nintendo fans, Saturday morning cartoon addicts

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

Akira Himekawa

Young hero Link must master magical weapons and tools, defeat monsters, and save the kingdom of Hyrule. This series includes two 2-volume stories and six stand-alone adventures, each based on one of the Legend of Zelda video games. This volume is a reissue that combines the first two books: Ocarina of Time Part 1 and Ocarina of Time Part 2.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of classic swords-and-sorcery-type fantasy

Content Notes

There is violence, as Link fights a lot of monsters.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Plum Crazy!

Hoshino Natsumi

Plum is a cat with eyes readers will get lost in. Her family (a single mother with a teenage son) adopts a new kitten, Snowball, and jealousy ensues. Plum is friends with several neighborhood cats, each an example of different cat behaviors, and the humans are loving cat caregivers.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Pokemon Adventures

Hidenori Kusaka

Mato N/A

Pokémon are amazing creatures with all kinds of abilities, and many people keep them as pets or assistants. Others train Pokémon to battle each other, competing to be the strongest. This long series - really a collection of connected series - follows various trainers as they raise and learn about Pokémon, befriend other trainers, and battle criminals who would use the creatures for evil.

Note: If the whole series is too intimidating, there are several stand-alone Pokémon volumes based on the movies. Look for any manga that includes "Pokémon: The Movie" in its title.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of fantasy action, and battle scenes

Content Notes

Pokémon fight. A lot. Some of the battles in the manga - especially early volumes - are more brutal than fans of the video games and movies might expect.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Sue and Tai-chan

Konami Kanata

Sue is an older cat who wants a calm life, but it's not to be when Tai-Chan enters the household. This sweet story is full of cute and funny kitty antics and is a great intro to the manga format for kids.

Appeals to

Animal lovers and fans of slice of life stories.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Witch Hat Atelier

Kamome Shirahama

Coco lives with her mother and dreams of being a witch. One day, she stumbles upon the secret of magic and accidentally turns her mother into a stone statue! She's taken in by Qifrey, a master witch, and joins his Atelier with three other students, and hopes to learn enough magic to change her mother back. But, there's something different about Coco, and the world of magic is not as bright and shiny as Coco once thought. The art is exceptionally beautiful and detailed, with lots of full-page splashes and some two-page spreads that captivate and pull readers into this rich world. The mystery of how magic might be different and dark is hinted at throughout and tantalizing, so readers will keep going, hoping to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Appeals to

Fans of fantasy, magic, adventure stories, and complex worlds

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Yotsuba&!

Kiyohiko Azuma

When Yotsuba moves to a new neighborhood, she immediately wanders off only to create a massive misunderstanding with her new neighbors who just want to help her get home After that impressive introduction, each volume takes the reader through Yotsuba's further adventures. From broken locks to trips to the zoo, and more, Yotsuba's adventures will have you grinning and laughing.

Appeals to

In addition to a spirited lead with a great supporting cast and tons of quirky adventures, Azuma has a knack for portraying the story and characters in a way that is funny to both kids and adults. As a result, this is truly a graphic novel that will appeal to all ages. Give this to kids who are looking for wacky, slice-of-life hijinks!

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

  • Martha

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, William Hall Branch of the Cranston Public Library

    Features Editor

    Martha Boksenbaum is Youth Services Librarian for the Youth Services Librarian for the William Hall Library of the Cranston Public Library. She purchases graphic novels, comics and anime for children and teens, and runs a manga and anime club for teens. She has served on ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable (GNCRT) Conference Committee and is currently a Member-at-Large for the GNCRT. She has also served on YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers Selection Committee. She works every day to champion graphic novels, manga and anime from her small library branch, and tries to keep up with the amazing number of comics being published today.

  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

  • Nic

    | She/Her Youth Services Librarian, Wake County Public Libraries

    Reviewer

    The child of two artists, Nic grew up loving art, reading, and those oh-so-special books that combine the two. Nic got her MLS from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her thesis was on the best shelving scheme for graphic novels in public libraries; the proposal won an Elfreda Chatman Research Award. She spends her free time reading, drawing, blogging, and writing fiction. She is a Youth Services Librarian at the Wake County Public Libraries in Raleigh, NC.

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

  • Sara

    | She/Her Teacher Librarian

    Sara is the Teacher Librarian at a high school in a small, rural town in California. Previously, she taught for 6 years in the English department at the same school. Her passion for manga began early in life when a friend introduced her to Sailor Moon. She jumped on the comics bandwagon with the popularity of comic-inspired movies, and she has recently come to enjoy publishers outside of the superhero genre. Graphic novels are a big hit at Sara's school, so she has carefully collected thousands of volumes that frequently fly off the shelves and into students' hands.

  • Thomas

    | He/Him Teen Services Librarian, Richland Library

    Features Writer

    Thomas is a teen services librarian at Richland Library in Columbia, South Carolina. While studying for his MLIS at the University of South Carolina, he won an award from Thomas Cooper Library for his curation of the works of “God of Manga” Osamu Tezuka. He has spoken about manga, graphic novels, teen programming, and podcasting at NashiCon, DragonCon, ColaCon, New York Comic Con, and American Library Association conferences. He has been on on YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee, written articles for Public Libraries, The Hub, Book Riot, and Library Trends, and reviews for School Library Journal and Kirkus.

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