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Doctoral candidate wins national literature award

Kristen B. Morales

December 5, 2017

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A College of Education graduate student's passion for inclusiveness in children's picturebooks has been honored by a national organization.

Adam Crawley, a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the department of language and literacy education, is one of two recipients of this year's Children's Literature Assembly Research Award. The honor was announced in mid-November during the annual convention of the National Council of Teachers of English, and it provides grants of up to $1,000 for original research addressing significant questions related to the field of children's literature.

Crawley's award supports the research he is conducting on his dissertation, which examines parents' responses to gay- and lesbian-inclusive picturebooks, as well as the books' potential use in elementary classrooms. The grant provided by the award helped Crawley purchase books for parents participating in his study, travel to meet with parents in surrounding counties and provide space for meetings and fund additional resources for the project.

"Because of this award, I was able to include a greater diversity of books—including diversity in genre, race, ethnicity, publication date and topics in the books, such as family diversity, adversity or anxiety, Pride and AIDS, among others. Some of the books are out of print and more expensive, so the award greatly helped in purchasing these books,” said Crawley. "Not only does this award support my dissertation financially, it also supports my research by increasing awareness of this particular study and the topic in general."

Associate professor Jennifer Graff, a member of Crawley's dissertation committee, said the recognition is well deserved. "Adam is a passionate, detail-oriented, compassionate and forward-thinking individual," she said. "I thoroughly enjoy working with him as a co-collaborator, writer and idea-generator."

In Crawley's qualitative study, parents read and respond to more than 30 picturebooks. Titles include "King & King," "This Day in June," "In Our Mother's House," "And Tango Makes Three" and "A Name on the Quilt." He said the recognition brought by the award helps show that this kind of inclusivity exists and is relevant in the world of children's literature.

"It shows an advocacy by the award proposal reviewers and Children's Literature Assembly—comprised of college faculty, K-12 teachers, authors, illustrators and other children's literature experts and enthusiasts—that work focused on LGBTQ issues in education matters, including for our youngest of readers," he said. "Receiving this award provides further support of my dissertation's relevance within various fields, such as elementary education and children's literature."