College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University

Faculty in School of Education Awarded Grant in Support of Authoring Textbook on Early Childhood Social and Emotional Development and Learning

February 19, 2024

Leslie La Croix
Leslie La Croix

Leslie La Croix, assistant professor in the Early Childhood Education program within the School of Education at George Mason University, has been awarded funding through the Virtual Libraries of Virginia (VIVA) grant program in support of her work in authoring an open access textbook that focuses on early childhood social and emotional development and learning. The publication is expected to be released in the summer of 2025 and will be used as a textbook in a Northern Virginia Community College course titled Guiding the Behavior of Children, which examines the early childhood educator's role in supporting emotional and social development of children and fostering a sense of community.

VIVA is an academic library consortium in the Commonwealth of Virginia consisting of the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities (including Mason) and 31 independent, private, nonprofit institutions, and the Library of Virginia. VIVA’s mission is to build an equitable, accessible, and robust infrastructure of library resources and services for higher education students and faculty in Virginia.

La Croix reports that a kick-off meeting was held with VIVA this past summer in Charlottesville, Virginia and that since then, almost a third of the book has been completed. In discussing the upcoming book, La Croix stated, “I am excited about the work we are doing. It will impact how early childhood teachers nurture relationships to support children’s engagement and learning.”

La Croix received an earlier VIVA grant supporting the development of a textbook on Early Childhood Literacy.

The current VIVA grant is the second one La Croix has been awarded from the library consortium. Her first grant culminated in the authorship of an open educational resources text that was released in 2021 titled Early Childhood Literacy: Engaging and Empowering Emergent Readers and Writers, Birth—Age 5. That textbook was a collaborative effort which included the following early childhood researchers who joined La Croix in co-authoring the textbook:

  • Christine Pegorraro Schull (Northern Virginia Community College);
  • Sara E. Miller (Longwood University);
  • Kimberly Sanders Austin (Southwest Virginia Community College); and,
  • Julie K. Kidd (Professor Emerita of Education, George Mason University).

In the introductory chapter, the co-authors explain that the textbook explores the connection between different areas of language and literacy and strategies for supporting development and promoting instruction. The textbook focuses exclusively on children from birth to age 5 because, as the co-authors point out, early literacy development provides the foundation for future learning.

The textbook contains ten chapters divided into three parts with each part focusing on a specific aspect of literacy development in young children. The first part (chapters 1-3) addresses development in a child’s early years and the theories that inform best practices for literacy. The second part (chapters 4-6) reviews the contexts for learning, environmental support, and assessment. The third part (chapters 7-10) delves into language development, reading, and writing, and presents the progression of literacy development.

At the end of each chapter are aids designed to enhance the reader’s engagement and reinforce the concepts covered in the text. These include vignettes illustrating examples of children’s experiences with literacy as observed by the co-authors during their own careers, “Pause and Consider” boxes that highlight essential principles emphasized in the text, “Key Take-aways” consisting of succinct summaries of chapter content, and “Additional Resources” that offer the reader access to related supplementary materials.

Since its initial publication, the textbook has been translated into Spanish and is now used not only in academic institutions in Virginia, but throughout the country.

The textbook is free to download and may be accessed by clicking here. To learn more about degree offerings in Mason’s Early Childhood Education program, please visit the program website.