Susan S. Lehr, Ph. D.
Professor Susan S. Lehr, Ph. D. is serving her third term as the chair of the Education Studies Department at Skidmore College where she teaches language, literature, and literacy courses. Lehr has a strong commitment to constructivist models of teaching and learning and is passionate about preparing pre-service teachers to teach literacy and literature in relevant, effective and innovative ways. Her reader response research began with the child’s developing sense of theme and has recently focused on issues of social justice, children’s literature, and how children construct meaning in interactive contexts.
Lehr's latest book is an edited volume entitled: Shattering the Looking Glass: Challenge, Risk, and Controversy in Childern's Literature (Christpher-Gordon Pub, 2008). In a review Janelle Mathis writes: "Shattering the Looking Glass" is a compelling book that reaches pointedly into issues with well-grounded, documented examples. This text presents an organizing framework for the trends and issues as well as a resource to engage readers, promote and extend dialogue, and invite personal inquiry. In keeping with the intent of the editor and authors of this text, "Shattering the Looking Glass" can plant the seeds for future research that strengthens support for literature as a critical component of the contemporary student-centered classroom". (Journal of Children's Literature, 2008). In Shattering Lehr writes about her current research which focuses on the radical feminist children's writers of the eighteenth century. This research is based on an examination and extensive analysis of primary documents housed in the Rare Books Room at the British Library, and was supported by a 2006 Mellon Grant.
Lehr earned her Masters in Education at St. Louis University in 1975 and her Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in 1985, studying with Charlotte Huck and Janet Hickman. She spent six years teaching in early childhood programs and in the elementary classroom and has been in the college classroom for almost 30 years.
Her first book, The Child's Developing Sense Of Theme, published by Teachers College Press in 1991, examines the young child's developing sense of theme in individual and interactive classroom contexts. Two other edited books examine controversial issues, the construction of gender, and the politics of children's literature: Battling Dragons: Issues And Controversy In Children's Literature (1995), and Beauty, Brains And Brawn: The Construction Of Gender In Children's Literature (2001).
Lehr's reader response research has been published Reading Research Quarterly, The Journal of Research in Childhood Education, and The Reading Teacher. Lehr has also published chapters about themes and genre in children’s literature in edited textbooks including: Extending Charlotte’s Web, edited by Cullinan, Hickman, and Hepler, Booktalk: Books That Invite Talk, Wonder And Play With Language, edited by McClure and Kristo, Parents And Teachers: Helping Children Learn To Read And Write, edited by Rasinski, Journeying: Children Responding to Literature, edited by Holland and Hungerford. She has conducted dozens of interviews with children’s authors for books and for journals like The New Advocate and The Journal of Children’s Literature.
Lehr currently serves on the Reading is Fundamental Literature Advisory Board for the Department of Education, Washington DC and the editorial boards for Language Arts, and the Journal of Children's Literature, both of which are refereed journals of the National Council of Teachers of English. Past positions include president of the Children's Literature Assembly for NCTE, state and national book awards chair, and the editorial boards of The Reading Teacher and Journal of Children's Literature. In 1990 she developed and chaired the first Charlotte Award, a children's choice book award for the New York State Reading Association.
She and Karen Brackett developed and co-directed Journeys And Reflections: An Educational Study Program in South Africa, and co-led groups of college students on three remarkable journeys that focused on the educational system of this multi-lingual society.