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Vivian G. Paley, a noted child psychologist and early childhood education researcher, was a kindergarten and nursery school teacher for 37 years, primarily at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. Now retired, she spent years examining the stories and play of young children and their logic and thinking, searching for meaning in the social and moral landscapes of classroom life. She has shared her storytelling/story acting and discussion techniques with children, teachers, and parents throughout the world.

During the years that Paley taught, she took the stories that children tell as part of their play and incorporated them in her daily curriculum. Her curriculum was not limited to learning the alphabet; it also included thinking about larger questions such as fairness and justice, and about what it means to go to school—both for teachers and children.

Paley has received numerous awards and accolades, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 1989, the Erikson Institute Award for Service to Children in 1987, the American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement given by the Before Columbus Foundation in 1998, and the John Dewey Society’s Outstanding Achievement Award in 2000. She received the National Council of Teachers of English’s award for Outstanding Educator in the English Language Arts in 2004.

Paley is the author of several books about life in the classroom, including White Teacher (1979), Bad Guys Don’t Have Birthdays (1988), and The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter (1990). Her book The Girl with the Brown Crayon (1997) has received many awards including the 1999 NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in the Teaching of English and Harvard University Press’s Annual Virginia and Warren Stone Prize as the outstanding book on education and society in 1997. It also was selected by Child magazine as one of the Best Parenting Books of 1997.

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