Read with Me
Reading with Young Children Who Sign
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The book and videotape set Reading to Deaf Children: Learning from Deaf Adults, is a good resource for parents who are signing to deaf babies. Most of the children in this tape are not babies any more, but many of the ideas David R. Schleper gives parents can be used with infants, too.
First of all, start right away. You know your baby doesn’t understand the language yet, but the closeness, attention, and bright, interesting colors and shapes are still exciting. Best of all, your baby has your undivided attention.
When you are sharing a book, keep the book visible and your signs visible. How can you do that? Most books for small children will stay open. You can put the book on a pillow so that your baby, in your lap, can see your signs and the book. You can sit side by side on the couch or on the floor and make many of your signs right on the book itself. When your baby is in her high chair, you can put the book on her tray and share the story with her if you can read and look at pictures upside down! Where do you and your baby like to sit and have conversations? Take your books there. Just be sure he can see your face, the signs, and the book.
Look for videos of popular stories. More and more companies and institutions are creating videotapes of popular children’s stories in American Sign Language and Manually Coded English. The storytellers on the tapes mesmerize even very young deaf babies. When you get the actual books out to read your baby will be excited to see a familiar story and ready to communicate about it with you.
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