Five Ideas for Graphic Novel-Centered Library Programs

Librarianship | Gemma Doyle & Kendal Spires| November 12, 2018

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Read about five graphic novel program ideas to engage a variety of age groups and put the spotlight on graphic novels in your school library.

Graphic novels are a huge (and still growing) medium for juvenile, teen and adult audiences, and are a popular way to reach reluctant young readers. Librarians wanting to promote their expanding graphic novel collections may be overwhelmed with all the options available to do so. Here are five program ideas that engage a variety of age groups, while putting the spotlight on graphic novels.

1. Make Your Own Comics

This is a great craft idea, as it’s relevant for young children and young adults. Free online comic templates can be printed for program attendees to use as creatively as they wish -- illustrating existing comic characters or creating their own characters, drawing and coloring, or writing plot and dialogue. 

2. Graphic Novel Book Talks

Book talks are short, informal descriptions of books -- librarians often use them to pitch books to people who might not have heard of them otherwise. Book talks are especially good for graphic novels because they allow potential readers to see the art while envisioning the story. Book talks provided by enthusiastic readers for their peers are especially fun for participants and can lead to book clubs and other great ways for readers to interact with books they love.

Graphic novels are a huge (and still growing) medium for juvenile, teen and adult audiences, and are a popular way to reach reluctant readers.

3. Comics Decoupage

Participants in a decoupage craft program use cut-up comic books or graphic novels to cover and decorate anything from magnets and shoes to photo frames and phone cases. These programs appeal to any age group but are especially popular with young adults. Decoupage is an easy craft to set up -- all you need are old comic books/graphic novels, glue, and something to decorate. These crafts are a great way to introduce readers to comic art and the comic versions of their favorite Marvel movie characters.

4. Cosplay Workshops

People of all ages love dressing up as their favorite characters, and cosplay workshops can help them learn the skills they need to create complicated and amazing costumes for fan conventions or library comic cons. Cosplay workshops cover a variety of topics, some aimed at costuming beginners and some at experts, using costume planning and character deconstruction, costume design, makeup, props and accessories, sewing and wig work. Program facilitators might find that implementing a series of programs works better than trying to cram everything into one evening. 

5. Comic Cons

Comic conventions create the ultimate comic and graphic novel experience, as they can encompass all the aforementioned programs, as well as many others. Cons can be scaled to meet all budget and staff constraints; libraries can invite notable comic writers and artists as guests of honor, as well as local creators to sell their work at an artist alley. Other popular ideas include panels, workshops, movie screenings, games, craft projects, cosplay contests and photo ops, escape rooms and scavenger hunts.

Visit the SEE-IT website for more information about the SEE-IT Award for achievement in youth graphic novels and view last year’s finalists.

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Gemma Doyle & Kendal Spires

Gemma Doyle is a former young adult librarian and does collection development of young adult and graphic novel collections for EBSCO and GOBI. Gemma has run the SEE-IT Graphic Novel Award since its second year, leading the team that handles all of the admin aspects of the award. Gemma enjoys graphic novels of all stripes and spends her non-work time reading fantasy, westerns and nonfiction. She currently serves on two ALA committees: the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) 2019 Rainbow Book List committee and the Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table (GNCRT) Awards & Reading Lists committee. 

Kendal Spires works on collection development for EBSCO’s Core Collections, and also serves on ALA GNCRT’s Metadata & Cataloging committee. As the jury liaison for SEE-IT, Kendal manages juror communication and logistics. Kendal is a lifelong lover of scifi/fantasy and comics of all stripes, and also enjoys the occasional historical mystery or crackerjack nonfiction tale. Outside of the reading sphere she watches as much television as one can manage in this Peak TV era and plays a lot of games, both video and tabletop.

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