Dr. Kristen Doorn, current lecturer in the Attallah College of Educational Studies Integrated Educational Studies Program (IES) program, teaches an English and education-focused course called “IES 340: Children’s Literature and Literacy.” Dr. Doorn received her Ph.D. from the University of Miami in Language and Literacy in Multicultural & Multilingual Settings. She was inspired to teach a course about children’s literature and literacy because of her passion for literature and her belief in the importance of literature in the lives of students and young adults. As a former classroom teacher and now a parent, fostering students’ literacy skills early on has always been a passion of hers.
Throughout the course, Dr. Doorn emphasizes the importance of accessibility, diversity, and inclusivity in literature curricula. A big question addressed in the class is: How do you find texts that students can connect with and reflect who they are as individuals, while giving them a window into other worlds? Based on Dr. Doorn’s experience, children’s literature provides a safe space for children to talk about complex issues in their own lives and the world around them through the medium of a book.
Fieldwork opportunities in this course include observing read-alouds at the Orange Public Library and reading to students at Chapman’s Centro Comunitario de Educacion, a community education center that Attallah College operates in Santa Ana. Chapman students can practice read-aloud skills with students of different ages and learn how literature affects different communities. Further, they learn about different organizations within their communities that support literacy education.
Dr. Doorn’s favorite children’s books are informational books on space and space travel, and her favorite young adult (YA) novel is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. She also recommends Tara Westover’s Educated, a powerful memoir about a young woman and her struggle to understand her identity and seek a better future for herself. Dr. Doorn hopes that after taking her class, students will become passionate about reading and look to share that passion with others in their lives as future educators.
Excerpt from the Attallah College Undergraduate Student Newsletter.