Amber Heffernan’s article, “Rethinking Graphic Novels in the Classroom: Broadening Our Concepts of Literature to Benefit Readers” helped me recall a fond undergraduate student memory. I was taking a 300-level creative writing course focused on short fiction. It was the first day of class and the professor arranged us into a circle. She started by introducing herself and describing her writing and authors of inspiration. Students subsequently did the same, almost. A few students tried to impress her with classic and/or trendy, respected authors of the time, but a few students were more honest and cited authors like Danielle Steele as their favorites. The professor and dignified students snickered and judged outwardly.

Finally, when it was my turn, I talked about what I was currently reading and writing and it wasn’t exactly profound. I might have been reading RubyFruit Jungle and writing ridiculous love poems, but at least they were honest reads and writes. Sure, I had likely recently read Beloved, but I didn’t choose it, another prof did, so I didn’t offer it up or pretend to be enthralled and inspired. In closing, I praised the other students who read Danielle Steele and Stephen King and their goals to be as accomplished as them because at least their books were being read and not gathering dust on some pretentious bookcase.

Heffernan has the right idea, albeit kicking and screaming the whole way, validate reading of writing! We want students to learn to read and write with academic or discipline literacy, but we won’t celebrate the reading they do now? Learning starts with confidence and for a lack of a better term–a starting point. Heffernan designed a legitimate lesson plan using a graphic story, and just like with the classics, she won some and lost some, despite the cool and trendy genre.