Mad Manga Mondays at Ellis Guilford School
Mad Manga Mondays at Ellis Guilford School
At Ellis Guilford School and Sports College in Nottingham a new lunchtime group has been launched. Ayesha Johnson, assistant learning resource centre (LRC) manager, describes how she set up a group based around the pupils’ love for manga and anime.
These Japanese graphic novels have proved extremely popular, drawing a large crosssection of pupils into the LRC who would not normally have been interested in books and reading.
Having an interest in manga and anime myself, I enrolled on a training course organised by East Midlands Youth Libraries Group entitled Manga Demystified. I wondered whether there would be a call for this genre of fiction within the school and how I could promote it to our pupils.
The training course expanded my knowledge of manga and armed with this I felt that I could successfully launch a group aimed at this niche market. I was lucky to discover that one of the teachers at our school was a big manga fan and I called on his expertise for advice and help with setting up the group.
Firstly, it was important to purchase enough manga material to make the group viable while also ensuring that the books bought were suitable. It is essential when buying manga to ensure that the books are fitting for the age of the target audience. All manga is classified by age, with some being for mature readers over 18 due to its sexual or violent nature. I generally stick to books that are marked as ‘youth’, ‘all ages’ or ‘teen 13+’ and, as these ratings are quite conservative, these books are suitable for all children at secondary level. Manga is usually sold in volumes making it necessary to ensure that the first books of each series were purchased and that popular series were put into stock.
To advertise the launch of the group, posters were displayed around school and put up in each tutor room, while staff publicised it to pupils by word of mouth. I made a point of not mentioning ‘reading’ or ‘books’ in any of the publicity in an attempt to attract pupils who may have barriers to reading. I highlighted other aspects of the group such as manga art and the watching of anime (with subtitles - so they are still reading) purely to draw pupils into the LRC.
We were totally amazed at the first session as 61 students turned up with barely enough room to seat them all in the LRC. There was an even mix of boys and girls with pupils representing all cultures.
I was surprised at just how popular the meeting was. At the endof the session all 50 of the books purchased had been borrowed.
Currently, the group meets once a fortnight and although the numbers have dropped to a more manageable 30 students, there is a waiting list for others to join. I try to vary each session; sometimes talking about the different manga series, writing book reviews, recommending titles to each other, practising manga art, drawing Japanese characters, reading fan fiction on the internet, watching anime, or taking part in quizzes. I also supply some Japanese snack food which goes down really well at the sessions. The scope is endless for trips and activities linked with manga, anime and Japan.
Three months after the launch of the group the LRC had put 124 manga novels into stock and these books had been loaned 864 times! Some pupils pop into the LRC twice a day to exchange their books. I frequently have to purchase new manga titles as some students have read every manga book that we have. Many of the titles have reservations on them as the pupils are waiting to read the next part of the story. We have a lot of pupils borrowing the books who are not members of the group and the increase in the number of pupils using the LRC has been phenomenal. We now have a lot of regular users who I had never seen in the LRC before. Since launching the Mad Manga Mondays group the number of loans from the LRC has increased dramatically and being part of the group has also encouraged some students to borrow books other than manga.
The only problem with manga being so popular is keeping up to date with the books. Pupils are constantly asking me if I have got any new manga and when they can borrow it.
At £6.99 a book this can be quite costly but I feel that it is worth it to keep the students interested and to keep them reading. Provided that I can keep introducing new stock then the students will keep coming into the LRC and they will keep reading. The project has been an amazing success.
In hindsight, I would have started the Mad Manga Mondays group a lot earlier had I realised the potential of it. I would also have stocked more titles at the launch as the students totally devoured the stock within days, reading every manga on the shelf!
Anime – cartoons originating from Japan, often based on manga
Cosplay – a Japanese subculture based on dressing up as characters from manga and anime
Mangaka – a person who illustrates manga novels
“As I left work one evening I spotted two of our students, one Year 8 and one Year 10, waiting to be picked up by their parents. Both of them had their heads buried in a manga, totally oblivious to everything around them. If only I’d had a camera on me. What a brilliant advertisement for reading at our school.” Peter Plummer, headteacher.
If you would like to contact Ayesha Johnson, email