Signing Children’s Books: Help! I want to share the love of reading with my little one, but how???
Recently, I was contacted by a young hearing mother of a 10-month old, deaf child. This mother had two other children that are hearing, she works full time outside of the home, and now her third child was born profoundly deaf. She has tried her best to read and learn everything she can about deafness and educational options. She and her husband have decided they will be using sign language with their family. She was taking formal classes and then acting as the "teacher" for the rest of her family. She felt that so far, the family had been doing a pretty good job trying to learn ASL. She spoke of how sweet it was to see the older siblings doing their best to try and communicate with their new baby brother, who will be using sign language as his primary source of communication.
This mother did share one thing she was feeling very guilty about though; something she knew she did with her hearing children, that she was NOT doing for her deaf child… reading and sharing literacy with him on a nightly basis. Being an educated woman, she knows the importance of reading to young children, but struggled with her own sign language skills keeping up with the vocabulary presented in the children’s books. She also noted how many "no-nonsense words" show up in children's books and wanted advice on how to handle those kinds of words.
The family had all the classic books and her older children had their favorites that they would ask to be read (and signed) with their baby brother, but how in the world would she begin to tackle words like CHICKA, CHICKA, BOOM BOOM and many of the other words that show up in children's books?
These were many of the same issues I remember dealing with as a teacher of young deaf children much of my career. In my own classroom, I would carefully choose the books I shared with my students, but what about when my students brought books from the library or home? Or when I was acting as the interpreter in another classroom that was having a Dr. Seuss marathon of zummers, nizzards, fifer-feffer-feff, yekko, jogg-oons, zatz-it, etc…
So upon reflection of how to help this mother, I decided that I want to highlight a feature we currently have on Signing Savvy, WORD LISTS!!! Word Lists are a feature where members can create a list of signs they use, in this case, for books they read (whether in their classrooms or in their homes) and SHARE them with other members so that we can learn from each other and cut down on the prep time needed.
To this end, I am beginning a series of blog articles titled "Signing Children’s Books." Each week I will highlight a children's book to share with your little ones and the signs that go along with them. Hopefully this will help parents, teachers, and families, so that we can find more comfort in sharing literacy with our young deaf children.
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