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Elaine Allard

By the Book

Elaine Allard headshot

Welcome to our new feature, Swarthmore By the Book, our take on the New York TimesBy The Book column. We're beyond grateful to Elaine Allard, '01, associate professor of educational studies and director of the Teaching and Learning Commons, for being willing to kick us off with her favorite and recent reads. Thank you, Elaine!

What are you reading these days? Right now, I’m finishing up a new book for the course I’m teaching this fall. It’s called Making Americans: Stories of Historic Struggles, New Ideas, and Inspiration in Immigrant Education, and it’s a history of immigrant education in the U.S., written by high school teacher Jessica Lander. It includes a lot of history I’ve never read elsewhere, interspersed with profiles of exciting programs for teaching immigrant students across the country, as well as personal stories of students she has taught. Lander was an anthropology major as an undergrad and then went on to do graduate work in education. I invited her to come speak on campus this fall, as I think it'll be inspirational for students to hear from a teacher-scholar who has managed to nurture an intellectual and scholarly life while working full-time in the public sector.

Is there a book you have read multiple times? As a mother to two elementary-aged children, the books I’ve read the most at this point are all favorites from my own childhood, including the Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis), the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl (we especially like The Witches), the Fudge books by Judy Blume, and Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales. As for books I re-read silently, it’s a mixed bag: Jane EyreMiddlemarchThe Corrections, the collected stories of Bernard Malamud, Flannery O’Connor, Oscar Wilde.

What living authors are you reading? I’ve been really enjoying novels by Louise Erdrich and Claire Keegan. So far Future Home of the Living God and Foster are my favorites of theirs, but there are still several I haven’t read. I’ve also been waiting patiently for new novels from Nell Freudenberger, Tayari Jones, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve loved all of their fiction and short stories, and am eagerly awaiting what they’ll come up with next.