Student Profile

JaNay Brown-Wood, M.A.
PhD Student - Learning and Mind Sciences

I am interested in investigating best practices to support the academic skills of at-risk children, especially through building literacy and reading proficiency.

Research Interests

  • Lack of diversity in children’s books and academic outcomes
  • Academic achievement gap
  • Early language, literacy, and reading development
  • Children’s literature and diversity in children’s books
  • Out of school time programs
  • Early childhood education


B.A., Psychology with Applied Developmental Psychology minor (2007), University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)        

  • Undergraduate Thesis: Comparison of Interaction vs. Baby Sign in Children At Risk for Language Delays. This study investigated whether baby sign has an effect on children at risk for language delays.

M.A., Child Development (2011), California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State)                                                                                     

  • Master’s Thesis: Exploring the impact of American Sign Language on preschool children’s letter name and sound learning. ​This study investigated the use of gesture when teaching pre-literacy skills to preschool children. Specifically, the incorporation of signs from the American Sign Language alphabet were used to assess if low-income preschool children who are exposed to the ASL Alphabet during a circle time letter program learn more letter names and sounds than children whose circle time program does not include the ASL Alphabet.

Ph.D., Education with Learning and Mind Sciences emphasis (In Progress), University of California, Davis (UCD)

Research Experience 

Reading RULES! Research Laboratory at UC Davis                                   

  • Graduate Research Assistant, Fall 2013- Present                                   
  • Working with Dr. Emily Solari to test the efficacy of the Reading RULES! first grade reading intervention program.

Language Learning Laboratory at UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain                         

  • Research Assistant, 2009                                                                          
  • Worked with Dr. Katherine Graf Estes to help run language acquisition and statistical segmentation studies.

Cognitive and Language Development Laboratory, UCLA                                          

  • Student Researcher/ Research Assistant, 2006-2007                      
  • Investigated whether baby sign trained infants could also learn sounds as object labels. 

Teaching Experience

Full Time, Tenured Professor, Early Childhood Education

  • Full Time, Tenured Professor, Los Rios Community College District, American River College, Early Childhood Education, Fall 2013-Present
    • Early Childhood Education 300: Introduction to Principles and Practices in Early Childhood
    • Early Childhood Education 312/Psychology 372: Child Development
    • Early Childhood Education 325: Positive Guidance Strategies with Young Children

Adjunct Professor, Early Childhood Education

  • Adjunct Professor, Los Rios Community College District, American River College, Early Childhood Education, Fall 2012-Spring 2014
    • Early Childhood Education 312/Psychology 372: Child Development

FDIP Intern

  • Faculty Diversity Internship Program, Los Rios Community College District, FDIP Instructor Intern, 2010-2011           

Teaching Assistant and Guest Lecturer

  • California State University, Sacramento, Teaching Assistant, 2009  
    • Child Development 135: Crosscultural Child Development                                                                                                                       
  • California State University, Sacramento, Guest Lecturer, 2012
    • Child development 138: Social and Emotional Development

Professional Experience (ECE and K-12)

Youth Service Specialist, SCUSD

  • Sacramento City Unified School District, Sacramento,
  • Youth Service Specialist, Jan 2011- July 2013                    
    • Created elementary summer program titled “SummerQuest” as well as the curriculum, materials, deliverables, and trainings to effectively implement program
    • Created the Instructional Aide Institute training series for Expanded Learning with SCUSD
    • Trained staff and other adult learners on lesson planning, curriculum implementation, and academic alignment in academic areas such as Math, English Language Arts, and Science
    • Planned, recruited, staffed, created, implemented, and ran an afterschool program for elementary and middle school students as well as a service learning summer program for middle school students                                                                                   

Program Manager, Target Excellence

  • Program Manager, Target Excellence, 2009- 2011
    • Worked with and supervised 5 staff and 100+ school-aged children in a high quality after school environment.

Preschool and Toddler Teacher     

  • Preschool and Toddler Teacher, Granite Bay and Roseville, 2007-2009
    • Worked with children aged 18 months through 4 in a preschool environment promoting social skills, conflict resolution, relationship building, and healthy development cognitively, socially, and physically.

Site Coordinator/Staff Supervisor, UCLA

  • Site Coordinator/Staff Supervisor, UCLA Youth and Family Programs, 2006-2007
    • Coordinated 12 summer camp programs with 50+ staff members and 1000+ children ranging in ages from 5 to 18 years old.

Student Teacher Internship, UCLA

  • Student Teacher Internship, UCLA Applied Developmental Psychology Internship, 2006
    • Worked with infants and toddlers aged 4-36 months in a high quality laboratory daycare setting
    • Helped children build strong attachments, learn social skills and fine tune their motor skills through play, reading, singing, conversation
    • Encouraged and supported development on multiple levels including emotionally, physically, socially, and psychologically through scaffolding and modeling


Can Diversity in a Picture Book Impact the Story Children Tell?                              

  • UC SPEDDR conference, Winter 2018
    • Presentation presenting pilot study research methods

Diversity in Children’s Literature                               

  • Diversity in Children’s Literature, Charlotte S. Huck Festival, March 2018
    • Presentation discussing the lack of diversity in children’s books and why appropriate representation is important.

Building Brains and Literacy Skills                                

  • Building Brains and Literacy Skills, San Leandro Unified School District, Spring 2015
    • Presentation focusing on how the brain develops and how parents and educators can support the brain development of young children. Conducted an activity where participants could practice the skills to encourage and support young children.

Summer Matters and SummerQuest Presentation, SCUSD

  • Summer Matters and SummerQuest Presentation                                          Sacramento City Unified School District and UC Davis School of Education, 2013
    • Presented on SummerQuest, a critical thinking summer program for Elementary students.  Discussed the importance of critical thinking in summer programs to combat the “summer learning loss” and achievement gap.

Impact of American Sign Language on Preschool Children’s Letter Name and Letter Sound Learning

  • Impact of American Sign Language on Preschool Children’s Letter Name and Letter Sound Learning, National Head Start Conference, 2011
    • Presented my Master’s Thesis at the National 2011 Head Start Edward Ziegler Western Research Institute, discussing the use of gesture when teaching pre-literacy skills to preschool children.

Other Poster Presentations

  • UCLA Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference (PURC), 2006, 2007
  • Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference, 2006, 2007
  • UCLA Westwind/Aleph Conference, 2006


Academic Publications

  • Gordon Biddle, K. A. & Brown, J. (2010). Changing early childhood education environments with partnership, quality improvement, and intensive consultation: A look at one case. Journal of Transormative Leadership and Policy Studies, 1(1), 45-52.

Children’s Literature

  • Brown-Wood, J. (2014). Imani’s moon. Watertown, MA: Mackinac Island Press, Charlesbridge

    • Imani is a young Maasai girl with a loving mother and a desire to do something great. When she decides she wants to touch the moon, she works hard to reach her goal, even in the face of teasing from the naysayers around her.
      • 2013 Children’s Book Award Winner through the National Association of Elementary School Principals   
      • Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) Multicultural Book pick for 2015.
      • Northern CA ACL 2014 Distinguished Book
      • Recommended pick on the “NYC Reads 365” 1st grade reading list
  • Brown-Wood, J. (2017). Grandma’s tiny house: A counting story. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge Publishing
    • There is always room for family! This sweet, rhyming counting book introduces young readers to numbers one through fifteen as Grandma’s family and friends fill her tiny house on Brown Street. Neighbors, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandkids crowd into the house and pile it high with treats for a family feast. But when the walls begin to bulge and nobody has space enough to eat, one clever grandchild knows exactly what to do.
      Where there’s a will there’s a way when families grow and come together.
      • Starred review from Publisher’s Weekly
      • Bank Street The Best Children’s Books of the Year pick for 2018
      • On the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature Best Books of 2017 list
      • On the Chicago Public Library’s Best Picture Books of 2017 list

Academic Awards and Honors

  • American Educational Research Association, Minority Dissertation Fellowship Recipient, 2018
  • Arne Nixon Center Research Fellowship, 2018
  • Eugene Cota-Robles Fellowship, UC Davis, 2014-2016
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals, Children’s Book Award Winner, 2013
  • Head Start Child Development Community Service Scholarship, 2009
  • Chancellor Service Award, UCLA, 2007
  • Psychology Research Opportunity Program Scholar, UCLA, 2006
  • Undergraduate Fellows Program Award, 2006
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars Program, UCLA, 2006-2007
  • Joanne Jubelier and James Zidell Scholarship, UCLA, 2006
  • Wasserman Scholarship, UCLA, 2006

Faculty Advisers

Emily J. Solari, Primary Adviser

Yuuko Uchikoshi Tonkovich, Secondary Adviser


Student News Fall 2014

JaNay Brown-Wood 

JaNay Brown-Wood (PhD) published her first children’s picture book, Imani’s Moon, in October. The book has been selected as the National Association of Elementary School Principals’ Children’s Book of the Year and publisher Charlesbridge named it “Picture Book of the Month.”

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