An Inside Look at Learning from the Bumps in the Road: Insights from Early Childhood Leaders + A Giveaway

Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Antonio Hernandez, and Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan in the Learning from the Bumps in the Road book trailer

Spring3We’re very excited about one of our latest and much-anticipated releases, Learning from the Bumps in the Road, by the dynamic team of Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Antonio Hernandez, and Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan. What’s better, it is available now — it arrived in our warehouse early this morning!

Holly Elissa Bruno, Janet Gonzalez-Mena, Luis Antonio Hernandez, and Debra Ren-Etta Sullivan are all accomplished professionals and respected leaders in the early childhood field. Together, they have spent a decade speaking at national professional development conferences — you’ve probably seen one of their sessions at NAEYC’s Annual Conference or National Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. They always pack a large conference room, and their presentations are filled with valuable insight — and, occasionally, differing viewpoints. We were delighted when the opportunity came about to work with this powerhouse group. In the end, the authors created a book that features a variety of essays that support a familiar, but important, notion: professional and personal growth takes time and the road isn’t always smooth, but it is a learning-filled adventure.

Before the book landed in our warehouse, a lot of discussion and teamwork went into the manuscript. We thought it’d be fun to share a bit of behind-the-scenes work involved in the making of Learning from the Bumps in the Road.

When the authors began outlining the book, the vision was to compile their work to “provide early childhood professionals with a variety of lenses through which to reflect on and strengthen their own leadership skills and abilities to work with children, their families, diverse communities, and each other.” The idea was that each chapter would present dialog among the authors about a particular topic — from power imbalances to embracing technology in the classroom — and the lessons gleaned from facing and overcoming uncertainty and obstacles.

As planning continued, the authors decided to divide the chosen presentation topics so that each person would take the lead on three chapters. After the introduction of each chapter was written, the group would take turns responding to one another’s thoughts. Kyra, the editor who took on this project, used a complicated spreadsheet to keep track of who had which chapters at any given moment. The flow of written responses is a unique representation of the conversations that the authors bring to their presentations — including those trademark alternative opinions. This method allowed each author to offer thoughtful contributions while remaining true to their individual perspectives on the topic at hand. The result is that each chapter merges each author’s distinct voice, expertise, and life experiences: you will read a long introduction from one of the authors, followed by a few pages from a second author, a few pages from a third author, and a few pages from the remaining author. Then, each chapter concludes with a summary and three reflective questions written by the same author who wrote the introduction. In their writing, the authors unveil personal and meaningful histories, insecurities, and insights. As you read about the bumps the authors have encountered throughout their careers, you will be encouraged and challenged to think more deeply and openly about your own practices and philosophies. You will gain a renewed sense of purpose as you help children reach their full potentials. And, you will discover — as the authors did — that every bump in the road is an invitation to grow and opportunity to learn.

After the manuscript was written — with many, many emails passed between the authors and editor — it was time for the publicity department to start sharing advance copies of the book with reviewers. We, along with the authors, were humbled and thrilled to receive a number of great remarks:

“The title of this book tells it all! Yes, the four authors describe the typical bumps in the road that workers in the field of early care and education encounter daily, throughout their careers. Reference to the term ‘insights’ in the title refers to increasingly deep understandings of inevitably complex events and relationships in the field, and they are offered on every single page of this book, exquisitely presented for adults who must accomplish complex tasks, plans, and interactions and provide leadership for the benefit of our young children on a day-to-day basis. And, yes, the authors provide the richest store of insights I have ever encountered in a single book during my fifty years of reading and studying in this field. Every page addresses the kinds of ‘bumps’ everyone whose work involves young children and their families must address throughout their careers, and all four authors share their insights in diverse, enlightening, helpful, provocative, and enlightening ways.”


—Lilian G. Katz, PhD, Professor Emerita, University of Illinois and internationally known early childhood education expert

“Reading this book is like a great dinner party with good friends. While the main course may nourish the body, it’s the lively exchange of ideas, personal stories, and heartfelt reflections that nourish the mind and soul. And just as conversations around the dinner table cover the landscape of hot topics, the chapters in this book cover the terrain of important leadership issues—equity and social justice, power and privilege, diversity and pluralism, technology and change, and adversity and self-doubt, to name a few. Savor the wisdom from these early childhood leaders as they share their deeply held beliefs and lessons learned from bumps in the road.”

—Paula Jorde Bloom, PhD, Michael W. Louis Endowed Chair, McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University  

Learning from the Bumps in the Road is a unique and great read: at once stimulating and great fun. Having four authors discuss their often quite different perspectives on central topics in today’s early childhood education discourse encourages readers to also find their own voices on these same topics. It is a very thought-provoking experience to come across ideas with which you agree, with which you disagree, and which provoke you. I especially and highly recommend Learning from the Bumps in the Road to leaders in early childhood education who like to push the boundaries of their thinking on pressing, important issues in our field.”

— Louise Derman-Sparks, international speaker, coauthor of Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves and What If All the Kids Are White? Anti- Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families, and former member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) governing board

“Often we speak only of our triumphs, put our best selves forward, and focus on our strengths. Inside, most of us have the tendency to be very hard on ourselves; we dwell on our mistakes, weaknesses, and perceived deficiencies. Strength and growth come from flipping these behaviors. We need to think well enough of ourselves and make selftalk positive. And with each other, we need to fearlessly share the challenges and struggles as well as celebrate the successes. We talk about being authentic with children, and we know how to do this. These authors become our mentors as their stories and strategies help us become more authentic with one another and within ourselves. This ability to be real will change our behavior and our practice. We could have no better mentors than Holly Elissa, Janet, Luis, and Debra.”

—Bonnie Neugebauer, founder and executive editor of Exchange magazine and founder and director of program development at the World Forum Foundation

Learning from the Bumps in the Road is a well-conceived and personally engaged depiction of some of the most salient and critical issues pertinent to the field of early childhood education. The book’s introduction states that ‘learning is a lifelong adventure’ and that ‘learning should be joyful.’ The authors invite us along with them on their learning journey, and in their unique, personal, and playful style, they share with us the details of their joyful adventure. This book is itself a joy and an adventure—I invite you to enjoy it as much as I have. You will learn much during your journey and be better prepared for and informed about helping young children and families meet the challenges of early childhood and beyond.”

—Mark Ginsberg, PhD, dean and professor of the College of Education and Human Development at George Mason University and former executive director of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

“This book is an invitation to be on a journey of self-discovery with four of the field’s visionary leaders. Along the way, you’ll get to know yourself as an educator, leader, mentor, advocate, and world citizen. It’s all here. The authors skillfully weave a rich tapestry of theory, practice, research, and wisdom with life experience, practical tools, and perspectives grounded in the lives of the children, families, and communities that call our programs home. They have saved each of us a place at the table—join them!”

—Claire Chang, associate vice president of grants and program at Minnesota Philanthropy Partners former member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) governing board

Now that the book is available, we can’t wait to hear what you think about it. For a chance to win a copy of Learning from the Bumps in the Road, leave a comment on this post telling us about a challenge you’ve faced and overcome in the workplace. One comment will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 12. (Open to US and Canada residents only.)

It was a privilege to publish this book, and we hope you enjoy reading it.

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