What are Graphic Novels and Manga?

Stories told using the medium of comic strips, with lots of pictures accompanying text. However, this is a bit simplistic. Graphic novels are normally better bound and longer than magazine-style comic books, hence the name. This means they can tell stories of greater depth or variety than a normal comic.

Manga is a medium of visual storytelling that originates from Japan. Manga books are usually slightly thinner than the average paperback and require the reader to start reading from the back of the book due to Japanese books being read from right to left.

Manga has a very distinctive style that is partly typified by large, angular, eyes. Anime is its film counterpart, and uses the same artistic style. Pokemon is a particularly well known anime and it has a manga series based on it.


Some people assume manga is only for children because of the success of children’s anime like Yu-Gi-Oh, and possibly due to the cute appearance of many manga characters. This is not the case, Japanese people of all ages read manga and it covers a wide variety of topics. Likewise, some people think graphic novels are only about superheroes or might look down on them as “geeky” or not very literary. This is far from the truth and is similar to judging all books based on one genre of writing. Persepolis is an excellent example of how broad the range of stories that can be told with words and pictures are.

What are the Benefits of Graphic Novels, Comics, Magazines and Manga for Dyslexics?

Graphic novels, comics, magazines and manga can be great mediums for dyslexics. The pictures help the reader keep track of the plot or subject even if they are struggling with the text. Having less words to read per page can make these mediums less stressful for dyslexics and allow them to finish these mediums much faster than they would a standard books. This can help boost the confidence of some readers. They can help some readers stay interested in a books when they might usually lose interest because of the time it would take them to finish reading something. It is difficult to overestimate how encouraging it is for dyslexics to feel able to finish reading an entire story or piece of writing in a reasonable time.

Dyslexics can struggle to remember the details of stories they are reading because of short term memory problems. The effort of reading the words can also make it hard to take in their meaning at the same time. It is not unusual to find dyslexics who have a much better memory for pictures than sounds. Often dyslexics have trouble remembering names but not faces, for instance. Many dyslexics report that their preferred thinking style primarily uses images. This means books and other writing which use pictures as well as text are far more accessible to this type of dyslexic (though not all dyslexics experience this).


Graphic novels,  comics and manga are sometimes based on popular TV series, films, novels, or video games. Popular brands include Star Wars, Warhammer, Twilight, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Pokemon. It can encourage reluctant readers to get more involved with reading if they are given a book about a world or characters they already like. There are usually normal novels linked to these series which they might consider moving on to as a transitional stage to reading a wider range of books.

Magazines can often be found about even the most obscure hobbies or special interests. A dyslexic person will be more motivated to read about something that really interests them, and magazines can help tap into this source of potential motivation. Much as with pictorial stories, books related to their hobby or special interest can ease transition into reading about a wider range of things.

Where Can You Find Graphic Novels, Comics and Manga?

You can find manga and graphic novels in most libraries or bookshops. Graphic novels (and often manga) are also available in comic book stores. They are easily found on online book selling websites.

Libraries and bookshops do not always keep separate sections for manga or graphic novels. You might find some manga shelved in the YA section and with others in the children’s section or in science fiction. Comic versions of popular books might be shelved with the books they are based on.

If you are having trouble finding what you are looking for (and especially if you are new to graphic novels/manga)  it is a good idea to talk to a bookseller or librarian for advice. They love recommending books of all varieties and may have read many of the sort of books you are looking for themselves.

While on the outside manga and graphic novels can look very innocent it is a good idea to flick through them and check the back cover for age ratings before giving them to children or teenagers. Manga, especially, can include content which is only suitable for an adult audience. Here is the VIZ Media Rating Guide to give you a rough idea of the sorts of symbols to look out for (they might vary between publishers).

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