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Elizabeth Murphy '20

Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies

What happens when a child sees themselves in a piece of literature? Perhaps more importantly, what happens when they don’t? For Elizabeth Murphy, that distinction was significant. “Students deserve to have their identities affirmed by seeing themselves reflected in books,” she shared. “Students also deserve to see into the lives of people who are different than them and become immersed in other stories and realities.”

As a current Elementary Education student at Bay Path, Elizabeth became involved with the local organization Link to Libraries during one of her courses. “The organization’s mission, which is to provide students in Western Massachusetts with new books, resonated with me,” Elizabeth shared. “Like Link to Libraries, I believe that children who see themselves in books are more likely to enjoy reading and learning, be appreciative of others, and excel inside and outside of their classroom.”

As someone who didn’t develop an appreciation for reading until later in life, it’s a personal mission for Elizabeth to develop tools and resources to engage children in books that will spark their imaginations. “Providing students with books, particularly those that showcase multiple cultures is exposing students to mirrors, windows, and doors,” she shared. “Countless children lack access to books, especially those including characters from diverse backgrounds. It’s very fulfilling to be able to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of children through literature.”

She’s turned that mission into action, creating read-aloud resources for multicultural literature picture books for use by Western Massachusetts teachers and Link to Libraries’ volunteer readers. "While we have always provided our readers with training and a carefully curated selection of picture books to share with students, we frequently get questions about how to discuss certain books with 3rd or 4th grade students,” said Laurie Flynn, Link to Libraries’ President & Chief Executive Officer. “In an effort to help us better support our volunteers, Liz took it upon herself to develop Reader and Teacher Guides for nearly 20 of these titles. She offered tips on reading aloud to children, identified key vocabulary words, provided helpful background information and even created a list of critical thinking questions to spark meaningful conversation with the students in the class. Our readers were thrilled and we are so thankful to Liz for taking time to volunteer to do this for Link to Libraries."”

With her future as an elementary teacher ahead of her, it’s clear that Elizabeth is already doing her part to create change for our future generations. “When I first arrived at Bay Path University, I did not view myself as a leader or someone who could cause a substantial amount of change,” she shared. “However, after seizing the educational opportunities that came my way, as well as those I sought after myself, I am confident in my ability to positively impact my community.”

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