Published on December 21st, 2015 | by Shannin Bailey

Holiday Graphic Novels

Oh, the joys of decorating for the holidays at the public library. It’s amazing how draining it can be to deck your halls (especially when you constantly run the risk of patrons complaining that there are too many holiday decorations, or not enough of them.) Trickier still is coming up with holiday-themes for all of your display areas—like your graphic novels. After all, it might be one of the only genres that doesn’t have a ton of easily available holiday titles. That’s why it’s easy to throw some snowflakes or tinsel around your display, and just arrange your newest graphic novels, or spotlight your favorite series or author. When we do that, though, we’re missing out on a major opportunity to bring new readers to the genre by showing off our graphic novels that might be the perfect holiday reads (although, maybe not in the most traditional sense.)

A good graphic novel—even if it’s not holiday-themed—may offer a break from the more time-honored holiday books, the majority of which  share an incredibly similar theme, and play on all the major themes of the holidays (including joy, happiness, and love.) Sometimes, though, it feels like these books rarely capture what the real holidays feel like, and how they include a wide array of less ideal emotions, like melancholy, longing, and sadness. Several graphic novels contain all of these emotions and more—take Craig Thompson’s Blankets for example. It’s a coming-of-age story about finding who you are, and how hard it is to let go of the past…and if that’s not prime holiday reading, I don’t know what is.


Sometimes, though, you want to focus on the joy of the holidays, and there are plenty of other graphic novels that will bring the laughs, like Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half, and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s classic Scott Pilgrim series (after all, at this time of year, we can all relate to Scott lamenting that he’s “not ready to be a grown-up,” and Kim telling him “it just takes practice.”)

And speaking of being a grown-up, another reason to recommend graphic novels to customers this time of year is just how quickly you can read them (which, during the holidays, is practically a requirement.) Graphic novels fit perfectly into the pockets of time we all have during the season, whether we’re waiting while our cookies or kugel to finish baking, or we’re traveling to see family or friends.

Sure, holiday displays can be tricky, but our patrons are still just looking for something good to read. So during the season of perpetual hope and joy, why not take every opportunity to highlight some amazing graphic novels? After all…if our emotions are running so high during the holidays that they feel like they’re hitting you in the face, why not spend some time reading the genre where they can literally hit you in the face?

About the Author

Shannin Bailey is a Reference Librarian in central Ohio. She considers herself a “geek’s geek,” and when she’s not explaining River Song’s timeline or why the Winter Soldier isn’t a villain, she’s a passionate advocate for promoting geek culture in public libraries through both programming and reader’s advisory. She’s presented professionally on Making Movies in Libraries, Using Facebook with Teen Advisory Groups, and Fandoms. She has a BA in English from The Ohio State University, and an MLIS from Kent State University. You can find her on Twitter (@shanninb), Tumblr and Instagram (@shanninb)

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