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  • Dr. Lisalee D. Egbert

Top Three Steps on Your Road Map to Reading to Young Deaf Children

Have you been trying to find ways to get and keep your child or student's attention when you read to them? Have you wondered how you can engage your child in a children's book especially if you only know a minimum of Sign Language? Well, you're not alone. There are some simple easy to use strategies that can help you read to young Deaf children whether you're a pro at Sign Language or a novice. Here are three that you can put into practice today:

1. Use your face and act out the book. Even if you don't know much Sign Language a few well-placed signs along with your facial expressions can go a long way to engaging young children. In the picture to the right, notice how the woman is using her facial expression along with the sign for angry. The child is fully engaged as they are reading this book.

2. Position yourself such that the child can see you and the book at the same time. This might take some practice because you will be reading upside down. So practice a book a few times before you read it. Notice in the picture below how the adult and child are facing each other with the book in between them.

Or you can sit with the child to your side if that is more comfortable for you and the child.

Either way the goal is for you to maintain eye contact with the child while also allowing the child to see the book.

3. And finally it can be fun to sign directly onto the book. For example if a character is running you might sign "run" or have your fingers act out running directly onto the book. This engages the child by having her look at the book while watching your hands. Another use for this strategy is when you are teaching numbers you can sign the numbers directly onto the page or in the case of the picture below, the clock face. This engages the child by placing his focus on the numbers and your hands.

While this list is by no means an exhaustive list of all the ways to successfully read to young children who are Deaf it is a quick way for you to begin to feel successful in your endeavors to read to young Deaf children. As you begin to feel more comfortable with these three strategies you can seek out other strategies that will enhance your ability to read to your child or student. Let you guiding light be sharing the enjoyment of reading and keep it fun!

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