Jillian Rudes on the importance of manga in NYC public school libraries


BrokenSphere | Wikimedia Commons

Baruch College’s Japanese Department hosted its sixth “Manga Symposium” with New York City public school librarian Jillian Rudes on April 27. Rudes spoke on the globalization of manga and the importance of adding more manga to school libraries and curriculums.

Rudes defined manga as Japanese comics originally written for Japanese audiences. She has been a librarian for 13 years and was inspired to cultivate a manga section at her school’s library after seeing her students’ love for the Japanese comics. When she began researching and reading manga, she fell in love with the artwork and emotional storytelling.

“Readers should have access to manga because of the epic storytelling, the unique and breathtaking artwork that depicts the thoughts and emotions of characters, the relatable and transformative stories about humanity, and the endless amounts of character types, plots, conflicts, and genres,” Rudes said.

She began her company Manga in Libraries to help other librarians introduce manga in schools. Rudes expressed that she didn’t want to simply give educators a list of manga to buy, but to show the value of keeping manga in libraries. Her website showcases webinars featuring topics such as BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and other types of representation in manga. The webinars also showcase how manga can be brought into the school curriculum and includes lists of manga recommendations.

Rudes also talked about how she uses manga in her 12th grade class to teach students how to analyze literary devices, foreshadowing and character development. Rudes explained that manga gives readers the chance to become culturally literate and learn about different aspects of Japanese culture.

Rudes included the manga  “Komi Can’t Communicate”, “Beastars” and “Boys Run the Riot” in her curriculum to teach social and emotional skills.

Rudes introduced quotes from her students to show how they related to the anxious character in “Komi Can’t Communicate” and empathized with the social anxiety struggles depicted in the manga.

The event concluded with a presentation from a Japanese program class and a manga raffle. Four books were given to attending students who won the raffle.