This program offered abundant opportunities to explore the research on children’s literacy and literature. I studied with incredible professors including Dr. Miriam Martinez, a children’s literature researcher, former Caldecott Medal selection committee member and my advisor; Dr. Roxanne Henkin, Director of the San Antonio Writing Project; and Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the instructor in my Multicultural Literature for Children Class and State Poet Laureate of Texas, among other stellar faculty members.
Through the master's program, I conducted picturebook research, both on my own and with others. My independent research article “Examining the Actions of Child Characters in Historical Fiction Picturebooks” appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of The Dragon Lode, a peer-reviewed publication of the International Reading Association’s Children’s Literature and Reading Special Interest Group. http://www.clrsig.org/dragon_lode_current.php
I was also fortunate to conduct illuminating picturebook research with Dr. Miriam Martinez and Dr. Lori Ann Falcon. The article based on this research, “Judging a Book by Its Cover: An Investigation of Peritextual Features in Caldecott Award Books” was published in February 2016 by the peer-reviewed Children’s Literature in Education http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10583-016-9272-8
While pursuing this degree, I had the amazing opportunity to create children’s works while researching kid's literature. I released three new children’s books while enrolled in the program, including WELCOME TO AMERICA, CHAMP! (Sleeping Bear Press), the WWII historical fiction picturebook that inspired my independent research topic.
Additionally, through my completion of the exciting and intense summer institute of the San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP) held at UTSA, I became a SAWP teacher consultant.
Guest speakers (in person and through Skype visits) at various programs associated with UTSA included children’s authors/illustrators Candace Fleming, Eric Rohmann, Yuyi Morales, Karen Cushman, Deborah Wiles and Pat Mora. How fascinating to hear about their writing and research practices!
I am grateful to my family who encouraged me and to all the UTSA staff and faculty who guided me along my academic journey. Today, I look forward to continuing to create children’s literature, now with an increased understanding and appreciation and fresh insights developed through this remarkable program.