The purpose of this presentation is to describe how the presenters, teacher educators at Zayed University in the United Arab Emirates, use authentic, quality children's literature to;
1. teach preservice teachers how to involve children in reading, and to create classroom environments which promote reading across the curriculum, especially in science and math, and,
2. demonstrate how they also use children's literature to help strengthen and further develop the English literacy of preservice teachers, many of whom struggle with English, which is their second language.
Reading and teaching using authentic children's literature has educational and personal benefits. Using childrens's literature increases and improves children's language and literacy development, especially in vocabulary acquisition, writing, and reading comprehension. (Johnson, 2009; Krashen, 2004; Wells, 1986). The personal benefits of teaching children's literature include helping readers understand their lives and the lives of others, developing readers' imagination, and handing down a people's cultural heritage (Johnson, 2009). The presenters will demonstrate research-based strategies they use to educate preservice teachers how to teach and talk about children's books, and discuss how learning these strategies helps further develop preservice teachers skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking English. These include reader response strategies such as journals and literature circles; exploring a writer's crafting technique, critical literacy, and writing children's literature books based on Emirati traditions and culture. The presenters will discuss their ongoing research on student responses to learning about infusing the curriculum with the reading of authentic children's literature. Student books will also be displayed.
The presenters have found Emirati preservice teachers read very little in English or in Arabic. Their vision is to use children's literature to help develop a culture of reading in English and Arabic among their preservice teachers, who can in turn motivate and inspire their students to be joyfully literate.
All three presenters are teacher educators in the College of Education at Zayed University.
Dr. Patience Sowa's research interests are in second language acquisition, literacy and biliteracy. She teaches courses in reading and children's literature.