AMESBURY — Teens are spending more time in the library these days, thanks to a genre that’s growing in popularity and making youth want to read more.
Manga, a genre of Japanese comic books, has grown over the past four or five years, said young adult/reference librarian Margie Walker.
"It is extremely popular," she said. "The manga is the most popular right now."
Manga began as a form of writings on Japanese temple walls and gradually developed into its current comic book form.
Over the month of June, 445 manga books were checked out of the Amesbury library, 352 in May and 248 in December.
Walker said she thinks the appeal of manga relates to its design.
"I think because they can read it fast," she said.
The books are read back to front and are about 100 pages or so.
"I think they like all the graphics," Walker said. "They can finish it in one afternoon."
Walker began an after-school Manga/Anime Club at the library a few years ago. While Amesbury’s collection of manga is small compared to others, the group has grown to include about 30 kids who attend every other Tuesday to discuss manga, learn about Japanese culture and watch anime.
The club has even practiced Japanese cooking. It has partnered with two Texas-based companies, where the teens critique new anime movies and manga works for the companies, ADV Films and Operation Anime.
The club will start again in September.
The teens offer advice to Walker to help build the library’s collection.
"They’re the experts. I’m not," she said.
With the summer reading program underway, Walker said she’s seeing teens reading manga more than any other genre.
"They go out with 25 books," she said.
The teen summer reading program — which has about 30 kids signed up — began in June and runs through Aug. 15.
For every book a participant reads, the Friends of the Amesbury Library donates money to that year’s chosen charitable organization.
This year, the teens are donating money to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, an organization that raises funds to research and bring awareness to childhood cancer.
The teen program includes kids in grades seven through 12.
Each year, the teens read for charity rather than a prize. Walker is planning to hold an auction where kids can get T-shirts, water bottles or hats from Alex’s Lemonade Stand. The items also include manga-related items. The auction is Aug. 15.
For more information about the summer reading program, visit http://www.amesburylibrary.org/ or call 388-8148.