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Judith Bernhard

Judith K. Bernhard

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Early Authors Program

Based on Freire’s (1994) conscientization theories, the Authors in the Classroom program (ACP) was developed to improve the possibility of more equitable outcomes of education for all children. Originated by Ada and Campoy (2003), it was implemented at the early education level under the name, Early Authors Program (EAP) (see Bernhard et al., 2006; Bernhard, Winsler, Bleiker, Ginieniewicz, & Madigan, 2008). The ACP/EAP is a transformative literacy model in which children self-author books or “identity texts” about themselves, their families, and their goals. Scanned photographs and word processing are used to create the books, which allow children, parents, and caregivers to communicate and share their personal experiences. The process of self-authoring books aims not only at enriching children’s print motivation, increasing their vocabulary, and enhancing their phonemic awareness, but also at strengthening links between and among children, their families, and educators. Moreover, the process is geared toward the acquisition of a strong sense of self-worth and pride in cultural identity.

Our team has also involved immigrant parents in self-authoring books, aimed not only at enrichment of their children’s school readiness (in particular, print motivation and increased vocabulary), but also at the strengthening of links between and among children and their families. The process is geared toward the acquisition of a strong sense of self-worth and pride in cultural identity. The focus of the texts written by the parents is on affirming the linguistic and cultural identity of their offspring and covered such themes as, This is Who I Am, the Story of My Name, A Special Person in My Life, and Hopes and Dreams for My Child.

In the Parenting Circles Project,  participating parents came to recognize that the act of expressing their thoughts, feelings and knowledge in writing had far-reaching benefits that they could not anticipate for their children and went beyond the immediate reaction they may have had. As the parents witnessed the positive feedback from their children, they began to fully comprehend how this was a new tool for positive communication.

Selected Readings on the Early Authors Program include the following:

Ada, A., & Campoy, I. F. (2003). Authors in the classroom: A transformative education process. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Bernhard, J. K., Cummins, J., Campoy, I., & Ada, A.  Winsler, A. & Bleiker, C.  (2006). Identity texts and literacy development among preschool English language learners:  Enhancing learning opportunities for children at risk of learning disabilities.  Teachers College Record, 108(11), 2380-2405.

Bernhard, J. K., Winsler, A., Bleiker, C., Ginieniewicz, J., & Madigan, A.  (2008).  Read my story:  Promoting early literacy among diverse, urban, preschool children in poverty with the Early Authors Program. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 13(1), 76-105.

Freire, P. (1994). Pedagogy of hope: Reliving pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Garcia, C. (2008). Parenting Circles Project: The key conditions for the meaningful engagement of Spanish-speaking parents to support their children's school success.  Unpublished Major Research Paper, Ryerson University.

Pinkus, S. (2008). The effect of the Parenting Circles Program on home language retention and parental engagement: The case of a Spanish-speaking parent group in Toronto.  Unpublished Major Research Paper, Ryerson University.

Taylor, L. Bernhard, J. K., Garg, S., & Cummins, J. (2008). Affirming plural belonging: Building on students’ family-based plural and linguistic capital through a multiliteracies curriculum. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 8(3), 269-295.

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About Judith

Loma Bajita

Dr. Bernhard’s research has focused on the needs of children and families in early childhood education and care settings...more

Selected Publications

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