Posted: 4/21/22

TAMIU Border Lit Delivers 100 Student-Authored Books to TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership


Dr. Kaitlyn M. Culliton
Dr. Kaitlyn M. Culliton  

Famed author Garrison Keillor once said, “A book is a gift you can open again and again.” 

On Wednesday, April 27 a group of Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) students delivered 100 gift children’s books they’ve authored to be opened by students of the TAMIU-Lamar Bruni Vergara Literacy Partnership (TAMIU-LBV).

The books were presented to representatives of the Literacy Partnership in ceremonies at the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library at 11 a.m.

The TAMIU students are part of TAMIU Border Lit, comprised of current students and alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences’ Multicultural Children’s Literature course promoting representation of border communities in children’s literature.

The collaborative service-learning project was started in Fall 2020 by Dr. Kaitlyn M. Culliton, TAMIU assistant professor of English, to support both early literacy acquisition and celebrate the border.  It was initially inspired by the legacy of the late TAMIU faculty member Dr. Francis “Panchita” Rhodes, who was committed to educating future leaders about children’s literature. The collaboration continues with Linda Ortega, new program director for the TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership.

“Students enrolled in the Multicultural Children’s Literature course for Fall and Spring semesters each wrote a children’s book to support early literacy acquisition in the Laredo community. These 100 books will be donated to the TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership. Partnership tutors will use them to tutor students in the community. They largely focus on border culture, diversity and inclusion, and family and identity. Together, we want to encourage literacy in young readers by increasing access to children’s works that authentically represent the Laredo community,” Dr. Culliton explained.

TAMIU students wrote, illustrated, and published their original picture books that engaged with their community and reflected on their own experiences.

Culliton noted that students gained an enhanced awareness of the literacy needs of young readers and focused on addressing these pressing issues through their creations.

“Significant research has demonstrated that early literacy is the best way to offer students lifelong academic success and to bridge achievement gaps between students. However, early literacy acquisition is subject to several social and cultural challenges. The TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership provides tutoring to address early achievement gaps by reading with students in weekly tutoring sessions,” Culliton said.

The book sets created by the TAMIU Border Lit students will reside in literacy centers in TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership schools across Laredo.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, the group will provide reading and viewing opportunities and talk about the importance of literacy outreach.  In addition, students will offer their perspectives on the semesters’ experience.  TAMIU graduate and Border Lit member Angela García, who recently published “My Brother is My Hero” (Amazon Publishing) will share project futures.  Finally, the group will launch a new website to help share their initiative, including digital versions of their creations.

Spring 2022 project printing costs were generously provided by TAMIU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Fall 2021 costs were supported by TAMIU’s Office of Alumni Relations.

The TAMIU-LBV Literacy Partnership is a community engagement initiative of TAMIU funded by the Lamar Bruni Vergara Charitable Trust. Through the LBV Trusts’ generous support, the Partnership provides one-to-one tutoring to children throughout Laredo and professional development targeting early literacy. The collaborative effort includes support from Laredo College, Laredo Independent School District, and United ISD. Together, the TAMIU-LBV Partnership has established literacy centers throughout Laredo to better promote grade-level reading in the early elementary years.

For more information, contact Dr. Culliton at 956.326.2647 or email kaitlyn.culliton@tamiu.edu or visit the website launching April 27 at go.tamiu.edu/border-lit

Additional information on the TAMIU – LBV Literacy Partnership is available online at https://www.tamiu.edu/engagement/lp/index.shtml.