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Living Stories

Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education


Susan Bernheimer

In Living Stories: Nontraditional College Students in Early Childhood Education, Susan Bernheimer takes the reader into her journey with a group of nontraditional college students. Bernheimer’s struggle to find a meaningful approach to teaching the students about early childhood development and care is infused with the insights and wisdom that come from listening to, and valuing, the remarkable stories of her students’ lives. This book offers a powerful new road map for early childhood teacher preparation through a relational pedagogy that honors students’ life experiences and that leads to deep reflection and learning. The approach is embedded in students’ strengths and knowledge and is successfully inclusive of an increasingly diverse student demographic. Bernheimer provides an inclusive model of education that builds upon the strengths of all students. 

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Advance Praise for Living Stories



Living Stories

“Living Stories is an extraordinary book about the journey of a college instructor to find her own voice and to open her heart and mind to disenfranchised and marginalized early childhood education students. Susan Bernheimer has developed a step-by-step pedagogy that will revolutionize teacher education for non-traditional students, as well as typical college students. This highly engaging book is deeply rooted in social justice and tells the authentic stories of societal judgements, failure, motivation, and the professional and personal growth of student teachers, whose stories are validated and intertwined with child development theory and content. This book gives direction for overcoming instructor frustration with an inflexible approach to college instruction and provides a how-to on inclusion, advocacy, and community in the classroom.

As I read this book with increasing excitement, I wanted to share it with all of my educator friends! My favorite quote addresses the overarching, political nature of early childhood education: ‘Responding to the pressing needs facing families at this time will require re-thinking our current values and priorities for programs serving children and their parents. It will mean re-assessing our approach to preparing teachers and directors of early childhood programs.’”

—Helen M. Davis, Interim Director, Education Department, UCLA Extension, Los Angeles

“In this gem for early childhood teacher educators, Susan Bernheimer shows us how to create transformative learning experiences for our students that will, in turn, transform us as teachers. Through insightful...

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