Introduction

When we typically think of comics and manga, we think of fictional stories. A dog who’s a cop or a pirate who can stretch his limbs like rubber. If you are more familiar with comics you’d likely read a graphic memoir, or a comic that is about someone’s real life experiences. But the world of comics is also filled with lots of informational nonfiction, from cookbooks to how-tos there are many comics out there that can help you learn.

A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns

Archie Bongiovanni

Archie Bongiovanni

Cover Image

In the theme of comics that teach, the Quick & Easy Guide series are great, and the Guide to They/Them Pronouns in particular breaks down the idea of pronoun options and how to use them in an approachable format. It's like a conversation with friends that happens to help people better understand the existence and usage of pronouns beyond she and he. Though it's focused of course on they, the lessons it teaches can easily be applied to neopronouns and other gender-neutral pronouns like xie or ey.

Appeals to

This series and this comic in the series in particular is great to have on hand in a classroom, especially since it's available as a bundle, as a resource for anyone with questions on how to be better allies or build empathy, or start learning about a topic they may not want to ask someone about just yet. The smaller size of these comics makes them unobtrusive and approachable as well since it's not a giant academic-looking book. None of the guides are exhaustive, of course, but they have further resources at the back of each comic and can serve as ways to get conversations started.

Creator Identities:

Gay |

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Gay |

Nonbinary |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Embrace Your Size

hara

Cover Image

In an autobiographical story, hara chronicles her struggles with accepting her body and fighting against society's standards of beauty. It's part guide for anyone reading to help them along their own journeys and part confessional of how hara's fight has had its ups and downs. Hara goes over harmful dieting and the mental side effects of being treated as less for her size and is expected to get thinner, but she also shows her process of turning that around and finding joy in her size.

Appeals to

There are few people who wouldn't benefit from reading about how harmful beauty standards are and how important it is to embrace the bodies we have, but this is especially helpful for teens and adults who are facing these struggles. Hara's illustrations are sweet and sad, and though of course there's not one easy answer to these problems, seeing hara's process is beautiful.

Content Notes

Discussions of extreme dieting, mental breakdowns

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel

Cynthia Levinson

Ally Shwed

Cover Image

What’s up with the Electoral College? What powers does the president actually have? Why can it be so difficult to pass laws? These are just a few of the questions Fault Lines in Our Constitution covers! With examples throughout U.S. history up through Trump’s term, Fault Lines in the Constitution explains the framers’ rationale behind the Constitution and the impact their decisions have had on the American government, and, by turn, American society. Fault Lines in the Constitution asks how effective the Constitution has been and what changes might improve our system.
Fault Lines in the Constitution is part of First Second’s World Citizen series, a series of graphic novels focused on political and civic issues, such as voting rights, misinformation, and immigration.

Appeals to

Teens and adults curious about modern politics and civics--specifically the Constitution and its impact on modern politics--will want to check out Fault Lines in the Constitution.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Free Speech Handbook: A Practical Framework for Understanding Our Free Speech Protections

Ian Rosenberg

Mike Cavallaro

Cover Image

Everyone, whether they are correct or not, feels they know what the First Amendment is and what rights it protects, but how many of us actually understand those protections and the Supreme Court cases that have both defined and refined what "free speech" means? Frequently using contemporary comparisons to frame the discussion, this graphic novel takes the reader through 10 Supreme Court cases throughout American history that have shaped how we as a nation understand and interpret the First Amendment.

Appeals to

Required reading for anyone who wants to better understand, defend, and uphold the First Amendment.

Content Notes

Occasional use of profanity.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Hidden Systems: Water, Electricity, the Internet, and the Secrets Behind the Systems We Use Every Day

Dan Nott

Cover Image

Every day, people use the Internet, get water from the tap, flush the toilet, and power all of their gadgets with electricity. But how much do you know about these systems? With illustrations that capture these systems’ massive scale and individual details, Dan Nott tells the story of these three systems and their impact on wider issues such as social inequality and climate change.

Appeals to

Older tweens, teens and adults interested in these essential services’ history and current impact will want to pick this approachable guide.

Creator Identities:

Queer |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Let's Make Dumplings: A Comics Book Cookbook

Hugh Armano

Sarah Becan

Cover Image

When was the last time you read a cookbook cover to cover? Probably never, right? Well with "Let's Make Dumplings" you won't want to miss any of the colorful illustrations or interesting tidbits about dumplings across Asia. This cookbook meets graphic novel not only depicts the food, but all the steps along the way, making things like intricate folding techniques easy to understand. Ten Speed Press has put out two other Let's Make titles: "Let's Make Ramen" and Let's Make Bread as well as "Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes".

Appeals to

Aspiring chefs and food lovers of all kinds!

Creator Identities:

Japanese-American |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese-American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Maker Comics: Draw a Comic!

J P Coovert

Cover Image

Young readers can learn how to bake, make a costume, survive outdoors, and so much more with the Maker Comics series! In Maker Comic: Draw a Comic, Cooverts uses the medium of comics to show reading what goes into making a comic. This title covers planning and storyboarding, creating thumbnails, inking your work, what supplies you'll need to get started, and how to copy your work to share with others. It also encourages readers to practice along with the characters in the book, so by the time they finish they will have made a comic themselves.

Appeals to

Comic fans will love this behind-the-scenes peek at how they are made, whether they are interested in drawing their own or not.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up

Marie Kondo

Yuko Uramoto

Cover Image

Have you been curious about The KonMari Method but the idea of reading a book on cleaning sounds a little...dry to you? Now you can enjoy the wisdom of organization guru Marie Kondo in the form of a manga. In each chapter, our author and tidying consultant takes us from deciding to tidy up our space to keeping our space orderly once we've organized everything. There is even a narrative element to this how-to guide. Marie is helping 20-something Chiaki Suzuki tidy her space so that she can feel better when she's home and even make room in her life for romance.

Appeals to

Anyone who is looking for a little more order in their lives in 2024.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Japanese |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

What the Font?!

Kuniichi Ashiya

Cover Image

Marusu is a sales rep who suddenly has to take over designing logos at her company with no experience dealing with fonts or anything relating to logos. A personification of the Helvetica font appears to guide Marusu through the world of fonts, introducing her to different fonts often used in graphic design or visual art. The reader learns alongside Marusu about the history of different fonts, terminology for typography, and all kinds of factoids about the history of printing, publishing, and design. Learn about serif versus sans serif, what serif even means, and what difference those fonts have when used on a page.

Appeals to

While of course this book can be a helpful way for students of graphic design or visual art to learn a bit more about fonts and maybe more easily remember things about them with the anthropomorphized characters, it can also be a great pick for people who enjoy learning more of the technical side of font choice in comics and manga, or anyone interested in learning more about the history surrounding printing and publishing.

Creator Identities:

Japanese |

Main Character Identities:

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

  • Tayla

    | She/Her Branch Librarian

    Features Writer

    Tayla Cardillo (she/her) is the Branch Librarian of the Oaklawn branch of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI. She is also a member of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table and the chair of the Rhode Island Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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