Guys I’ve actually started getting back into reading again, and of course it just happened to be in the form of graphic novels. This week I managed to finish two graphic novels. The first Stitches by David Small. This grotesque novel deals with a slightly crazy family and different medical things that happened to David as a child. The book itself is an autobiography, and it’s a little creepy. It will make you think about some things in a different light. Also, if you read any of David Small’s children’s books I think you can kind of see his childhood experiences bleeding through. The second book that I read was Relish by Lucy Knicely. This book is all about food, and how Lucy makes memories through her connections with food. I loved this book because a. I love food and b. the story is amazing. I’d highly recommend either of these books.
These books were both autobiographies, which got me thinking about all the different ways that we can express ourselves. Especially, about the different ways that our students can express themselves. If an autobiography can be a graphic novel then it can be written in any shape or form. Of course, this isn’t a new idea for me, but it does help me see how we seem to develop these ideas about what good writing is, or what a certain piece of writing has to look like. The thing is why can’t an autobiography be written in a poem? This has really got me thinking about the fact that too often we put our students in a box. We tell them that there is a certain way to do things, and we punish them for stepping outside of those lines. The problem is that too often some of the most effective literature breaks the rules and steps outside of the box.
My goal for my classroom more and more is to push my students to challenge the “lines” that have been drawn for them. I want them to ask questions, and if that means they question me that’s what I will encourage them to do. I want them to know that they are safe in my class, and that they don’t have to worry about me lording my power over them. I want them to know that a topic isn’t just made for one genre. I want them to know that I trust them and I care about them as people, and as artists. Most of all I want them to know that they are capable of being great writers and readers and I wholeheartedly believe in them.
I know this blog has kind of been all over the place, but this has just really been hitting me this week. I would hate to see what would have happened if someone had told David Small or Lucy Knisely that they couldn’t write an autobiography in the form of a graphic novel. I’d hate to see them told that they couldn’t write graphic novels. I look at all these authors that I enjoy and I wonder what would have happened if they were told over and over that they had to color inside the lines, and I want to create a classroom that doesn’t do that.