Instructor pours passion for childhood literacy into children’s books

Published on: November 8, 2022
Instructor Airreia Pierce holds her book, "I am BEARY Loving."
Instructor Airreia Pierce holds her book, "I am BEARY Loving."

Airreia Pierce was designing a childcare center during her second year of an interior design program when she realized she liked the idea of the childcare center more than the design.

"I actually became more interested in the education and psychology of the childcare center than making the building," said Pierce, now in her fifth year as an early childhood instructor at Guilford Technical Community College. 

That same day, she switched her major to human development and family studies: birth-kindergarten education and has embraced the mission of early childhood education since.

"I realized I didn't want to do that. I switched and started with one class, and it was like a light bulb went off. I was very passionate."

Pierce's mother taught her to read and write before she entered kindergarten. Reflecting on that experience helped her understand the importance of childhood literacy, a learning dynamic she continues to preach and teach every day.

"Birth through five years old is so important to prepare for kindergarten and beyond," said Pierce, a Greensboro native who earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the UNC-Greensboro.

"As they learn, they see how they can use all the subjects to tie into literacy. It ties into art, to music, to everything. That's how they discover, and it makes it engaging and fun."

Writing has been a passion for much of her life. Pierce began as an author of adult nonfiction in 2012. A few years ago, she began to use her writing to spread her message of childhood literacy.

She wrote and reviewed until a draft of her first book was finished.

"It just happened over time," she said of her debut book "I am BEARY Loving," which has led to five more. Two of those books are in the marketplace, the others are in various stages of completion, scheduled to all be available by early November. Pierce said the books are aimed at children up to six years old.

Pierce said she believes her books stand out with a unique feature that parents and children alike enjoy.

"What's unique about these books, and I haven't seen this before, is that in the back of each book is a journal, a space for parents to journal moments pretty much as they happen, as they see their child develop."

Pierce separates her writing career from her work at GTCC, but most of her students know she is an author of adult and children's books. Her students, sometimes unknowingly, benefit from the skills she has honed as an author.

"Because of my background, I am a stickler for editing and grammar. Whenever they (students) submit items, I give them constructive criticism on their writing," Pierce said. Proper punctuation, spelling, and grammar transcend all disciplines, she said, and those skills are a must in life.

"You don't ever stop learning. That's the way I look at it."

 Visit GTCC's early childhood education page for more information on the program.

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