Gearing up for the new school year: recommended reading

by DEY

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​Many early childhood teachers across the nation are gearing up for the new school year just a few weeks away (even sooner in some parts of the country!). If you are looking for inspiration, there is a great book by Patricia M. Cooper called The Classrooms All Young Children Need: Lessons in Teaching from Vivian Paley (University of Chicago Press, 2011).

Vivian Paley is arguably the best known early childhood educator alive today. The quintessential observer of children, she is reflective and prolific. Paley has written over a dozen books reflecting on her journey as an educator and the craft of teaching young children. Here, Cooper takes a look at the work of Paley, and what we can learn from her experiences. Notably, Cooper also expertly describes the misguided shift in our country from early childhood education to early literacy education.

With The Classrooms All Young Children Need, Cooper inspires (or re-inspires) early childhood educators with what we know is good practice – capturing the stories of young children and bringing these stories to life in the classroom. Literacy begins with language, and imaginative play is where real learning takes place.  This book reminds us that not only is it okay, it is in fact essential to stop and listen to young children at play; to take time to observe them closely; to ask questions to extend their thinking. In the current climate of education reform pushing direct instruction at younger and younger ages, The Classrooms All Young Children Need is like oxygen to the suffocating early childhood educator.