Yesterday I gave a talk to 60 preschool teachers in Danville, and it was a fabulous event. I was their last speaker of the day, which suited me just fine since I had some interactive components planned and I always enjoy the challenge of firing up an audience. I brought them books that I knew they could use as read-alouds in their preschool classrooms, and tied it to the very concrete things that children are interested in, such as animals, food, trucks, dinosaurs, big things and small things and differences in size... actually, that last idea deserves some expansion and explanation, and maybe even a paper. We talked about humor for preschoolers, and especially the kind where it's funny because the kid knows better than the book. For instance, many books use the trope of having an animal make the wrong noises, and preschoolers love this because they know it's wrong, so it's both funny and empowering.
It felt so extraordinarily practical and meaningful to be back in front of preschool teachers, a place I used to occupy on a regular basis at Urbana Free. I have got to find ways to move more deeply into early literacy issues in my research. What I have so far from the talk are the makings of a rock-solid bibliographic essay. What I need is either a literary or social approach that will let me push this toward peer-reviewed scholarship.