Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: Marvelous Manga that Christie’s Tweens and Teens are Reading

Beginning Crowd during our Author Event on FCBD 2014

If you follow me on Twitter or read anything I write regarding teens and tweens, you know that I have a very active community library. Mainly guys, a few girls, but very active tweens and teens. They are addicted to the Makerspaces, including duct tape crafts and Legos, and I have a group of 4th graders that have formed a homework club just so they can create Rainbow Loom bracelets every Thursday afternoon. And for those who say that tweens and teens don’t read, I have to disagree with you.

Some of my teens won’t read- and they’ll tell you that to your face, because reading is “boring”. Yet, they’ll go through the Guiness Book of World Records and pour over the pictures. They’ll search through websites on Lego sites for ideas on what to build. And when I get new manga in, even if they’ve read the stories online and watched the episodes, they’ll clamor for the newest volume. Those in-house uses really don’t reflect in our circulation statistics- because for all my polite (and not so polite) asking they’ll place the books back.  In celebration of Free Comic Book Day, and in love of things manga, I thought I’d share my library’s top 5 manga series.

Meet Monkey D. Luffy, whose main ambition is to become a pirate. Eating the Gum-Gum Fruit gives him strange powers but also invokes the fruit’s curse: anybody who consumes it can never learn to swim. Nevertheless, Monkey and his crewmate Roronoa Zoro, master of the three-sword fighting style, sail the Seven Seas of swashbuckling adventure in search of the elusive treasure “One Piece.”

On volume 70 (available June 2014) and going strong, One Piece is known for it’s antics and high-jinks and keeps my teens and tweens guessing with what will come next. A nice piece of trivia is that the author/animator first began his manga career at 17, and has been assisting some of the most famous artists in the genre before One Piece started in 1997.


Ichigo “Strawberry” Kurosaki was born with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow — a malevolent lost soul — Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured spirits find peace.
The Arrancars, Hollows that have attained Soul Reaper-like powers, have descended on Karakura Town. Led by Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, they plan to eliminate anyone who poses a threat to them. And their deadly hunt doesn’t stop with Ichigo and the Soul Reapers–the Arrancars are after anyone with even a trace of spiritual powers!

Serialized on networks like Cartoon Network and others, Bleach has a huge following both in Japan and in America, and the storylines are complex and engaging. In 2005, Bleach was awarded the Shogakukan Manga Award in the shonen category.

A wry update on the Chinese “Monkey King” myth, introduces us to Son Go Son Goku, a young monkey-tailed boy whose quiet life is turned upside-down when he meets Bulma, a girl determined to collect the seven “Dragon Balls.” If she gathers them all, an incredibly powerful dragon will appear and grant her one wish. But the precious orbs are scattered all over the world, and to get them she needs the help of a certain super-strong boy.

Continuing through as Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball Z, and Dragon Ball GZ (which confuses my catalogers as well as a lot of parents and those who don’t know which book to look for), the Dragon Ball series is on TV, figurines, and fighting games (which make for awesome tournaments, by the way).

Naruto is a ninja-in-training with a need for attention, a knack for mischief and, sealed within him, a strange, formidable power. His antics amuse his instructor Kakashi and irritate his teammates, intense Sasuke and witty Sakura, but Naruto is serious about becoming the greatest ninja in the village of Konohagakure! Believe it!

On volume 65 and still going, Naruto quickly became the most popular ninja manga in Japan shortly after it’s debut in 1997. We’ve done crafts based on the sigils of the various characters, and I’ve seen the tweens and teens wear them to school and around the area for days afterwards.

Invisible in the back of the class, 10th-grade loner Yugi always had his head in some game – until he solved the Millennium Puzzle, an Egyptian artifact containing the spirit of a master gambler from the age of the pharaohs! Awakened after 3,000 years, the King of Games possesses Yugi, recklessly challenging evildoers to the Shadow Games, where even the most ordinary bet may result in weirdness beyond belief … and the loser losing their mind! Who will win the Game of Silence? Who will win the Game of One Digit – Yugi’s thumb or a violent criminal’s finger on the trigger of a gun? And what about the Game of Air Hockey With Explosives Over a Hot Stove?

 Starting with Yu-Gi-Oh, and continuing in Yu-Gi-Oh Duelist, Yu-Gi-Oh R, and additional generations in Yu-Gi-Oh GX and Yu-Gi-Oh 5D, this is the manga that inspired the card game, not the other way around. My tweens and teens will take over tables to play the cards, and actively stalk my office waiting for the new manga to come in- when Shonen Jump was in publication in print, they would run on delivery days to get to the library first in order to read the new stories.