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Professor encourages critical thinking in children through reading

July 3, 2013 | Valorie Coleman

Books are a window to the world.

Shonna Crawford realized early on as a teacher in the elementary classroom that almost all barriers to a student’s learning stemmed from problems with reading.

This realization changed the course of her career.

“I loved the classroom and didn’t think I would ever leave it,” says Crawford, now an assistant professor of education at Evangel University. “My goals have broadened to include equipping other educators. If we can teach children to read, we give them the key to their futures.”

Crawford earned both her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and her Master of Education in Reading from Evangel. She is currently a Ph.D. student studying literacy, early childhood, and language in society at the University of Missouri.

Her study of how literature increases a child’s critical thinking abilities benefits her at home as well. She has written an article that was published in the May issue of the education journal Talking Points.

“The fun thing about this article is that it’s all about a project I did with my daughter, Aubree,” Crawford says.

The article is titled “Examining a Child’s Perception of Mommyhood through Critical Book Conversations.”

“One night as we were playing the game, Life, as a family, Aubree made the comment, ‘But daddies are supposed to make all the money, not mommies!'”

This led Crawford to explore with Aubree her perceptions of moms and what moms do. “All of this happened to coincide with a course I was taking in my Ph.D. program. My at-home reading time with Aubree became a perfect project for the class.

“My goal is to continue helping Aubree, and all young children I work with, to use book conversations as mirrors and windows to help them understand how they can see themselves differently and, in turn, see the world differently,” Crawford said.

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