Summer Reading: Children’s Literature Leaders Keynote Summer Course

Leading authors, illustrators, poets, and experts in children's literature were featured speakers for Dr. Lesley M. Morrow’s course  “Children’s Literature in Early Childhood and Elementary School” at Rutgers Graduate School of Education (GSE) this summer.
Pre-service and in-service teachers became fully immersed in children's literature, learning from experts in an intimate small-group setting during this four-week, three-credit hybrid course.
Dr. Allan De Fina, author of When a City Leans Against the Sky, a book of poetry for children,discussed ways to encourage children to write poetry.


John Farrell, songwriter, author, and peace educator, illustrated how his songs and stories focus on understanding, empathy, and nature with interactive performances and class discussion.
Brian Pinkney, an award winning illustrator of several books including The Faithful Friend, In the Time of the Drums, and Duke Ellington, demonstrated how he creates his art and discussed his informational books about issues related to social justice.
"This course provides students with the incredible opportunity to examine children's literature with the aid of the direct feedback of the creators themselves," said Dr. Morrow. "Those unique perspectives, coupled with the diverse experience levels of the students themselves – from emerging to long-time educators, created an environment for very thoughtful discussion and reflection."
Forty additional educators joined course participants for a mini-conference featuring Avi, an award winning author of numerous books including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, and Nothing But the Truth, and Pam Allyn, a children’s rights advocate and author of many books including Your Child’s Writing Life and What To Read When: The Books and Stories To Read With Your Child–And All The Best Times To Read Them.
GSE alumnae and current Reading Specialist students Kelli  Dunston (Ed.M. Elementary Education ‘07), Lisa Mullin (Ed.M. Early Childhood Elementary Education ‘06), Rachel O'Neil, and Kathryn Tepedino (Ed.M. Language Education ‘04) served as teaching assistants, facilitating daily “booktalks” (short book summaries given to entice the listener to read the book). These booktalks exposed the students to a variety of children’s literature in a very short amount of time. By the end of the course, students came full circle, each facilitating their own booktalk that incorporated mediums such as technology, props, and musical instruments.
The course fulfills a core requirement for the Reading Specialist programs and counts as an elective for other programs including the education minor.
For information on upcoming programs including exciting presentations by more children’s authors at the 48th Annual Conference on Reading and Writing on October 23, 2015 please visit the Center for Literacy Development’s website.