Pearce is the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator for Federal Programs at Rio Rancho Public Schools, where she supports English Language Development Coordinators and World Language Teachers in her district, which is just outside of Albuquerque. She was one of twenty-nine educators who attended the “Identity and multilingualism through picture books” summer institute held earlier this month.
Funded by a $175,000 grant from the National Endowment for Humanities, the project aims to enrich early elementary school curricula by exploring the use of picture books to enhance second-language learning development and identity formation. The institute was jointly led by Associate Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and Director of Latin American, Caribbean and Latin Studies Margaret Boyle of Bowdoin College and her colleague Bobcat. Krista Aronsonwho is a professor of psychology and associate dean of faculty at Bates College.
The work is a partnership between the Boyle Program Multilingual mainers– established five years ago as a partnership between Bowdoin undergraduates and PreK-2 students and families in the local community of Brunswick, Maine, and the Aronson program Search for miscellaneous books—a comprehensive collection of children’s picture books featuring Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).
The first half of the two-week event took place online, while the second week involved in-person activities at the Bates and Bowdoin campuses. “We explored how picture books support work in multilingualism, identity, second language acquisition and cultural knowledge, bringing together a cohort of passionate educators from Maine to Hawaii,” Boyle said. . “The range of languages spoken at home in our teachers’ classrooms was proof of the dynamism of multilingualism across the United States.”
One of the highlights, Boyle said, was a conversation with famed author and illustrator Raúl III, creator of the World of Vamos book series – on Mexican American representation in children’s literature through language and illustration.