Thursday, December 07, 2006

Comic Books, Graphic Novels, And Age Range, Oh My

The branch were I work has graphic novels, but no comic books (I'm not sure if other branches have them or not.) I've posted before about my frustration with children (and parents) going to the YA section for graphic novels, with the belief that because it's "comics" it will be age appropriate, despite the fact that the item is found in the YA area.* So I'm always happy to see graphic novels for children so that they can find materials that are appropriate for them.

I'm not the only one musing over this issue, and here are some interesting recent posts on it:

Finding Wonderland: The Writing YA Weblog talks about graphic novels, comic books, manga, and asks questions about the ages for these materials.

Read Roger muses about where graphic novels fit in with ALA awards.

Melissa Wiley (Here in the Bonny Glen) first asks about age appropriate comic books for children, and revisits the question, adding this time whether it's important for kids to read comics. (And by the way? Melissa's husband writes & edits comic books for a living.)

Melissa at Pop Goes the Library often posts about GNs and comics: Comic Books, a new kind of magazine?; and New Comic Readers: what do they read? are two examples.

*And for the most part, when I'm in conversation with the parents, many (either remembering, rightly or wrongly, comics from their own childhood or not being familiar with the format at all) assume "pictures, oh, of course it's kid-friendly." While I would never tell someone "you cannot check that out," it is my job to make sure that parents are aware that pictures do not equal "good for all ages."


Anonymous said...

I agree, Liz: pictures do not equal "good for all ages," especially not in the manga collection (which is large at my branch). I have a feeling there would be many more Requests for Reconsideration forms filed if parents took the time to read a few of the titles their teens were reading (not that it would change anything - imho, those books belong in YA!). Mars, Marmalade Boy and Chobits all touch on some heavy issues (rape, incest, and pornography, respectively) and yet they are among the most loved titles of my anime club.

Sarah said...

Just the other day, I had my first phone call from a parent, telling me that the graphic novels contain sexually explicit scenes and are not appropriate. The parent had a 14 year old son, and the book she chose was likely not appropriate for him but would not have been inappropriate for someone just a smidge older. I had to explain that YA books are for ages 12-18, and that covers a lot of different maturity levels.

It turns out it was the STAFF at the library who told her to look at graphic novels when she asked for books for her "reluctant reader." Staff just pointed her in the direction of graphic novels and let her be.

I suggested Douglas Adams, and she said her son had already read all of the Hitchhiker series, so then I recommended Terry Pratchett.

I'm a little frustrated that staff also believe that graphic novels = comics = easy reading.

But I'm glad the parent is going to file a complaint about the contents of the graphic novels.

Liz B said...

Staff training is a constant. At my system, YA is the first area that had a GN collection and I think that's part of the reason that some staffy still think all GN is kid-friendly. Almost every time that one comes in as adult, they ask, is that right? On the other hand, they do realize that not all YA stuff is good for kids and our big debate in house right now: if a child or his/her parent placed an item on hold, so may not know anything of the content, how much should we or should we not say about the item being YA? So far we do a friendly "it's YA for a reason, want to know how to find J titles?"

Unknown said...

I started reading graphic novels when I was about nine. Almost all of them had questionable content, ranging from the Sandman's gore to the abundance of nudity in manga like Negima! and Chobits. This could be controversial for some parents, but by the time I was that age I had read about more age-inappropriate things, such as rape and suicide (I was a happy child), so my parents figured I was old enough. Some say that as long as a child expresses interest in a subject, he is mature enough to pursue it. I think what causes problems isn't the kids' premature exposure to potentially "mature" content, but the parents' lack of information, and subsequent shock, about what their kids are reading. If parents informed themselves of what subjects kids encounter while reading, they could decide whether their children are ready to read the material or not. I don't know-- at some libraries, children must have their parents' approval to use the internet-- maybe some kind of policy like this could be in the future for young adult materials.