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Reading to both your Hearing and Deaf Children

Reading to both your Hearing and Deaf Children

Literacy in the home is very important. Simple ways like reading recipes, the newspaper, emails, books, and so forth with your children and around your children helps them to understand why reading is so important to the family. How can you read together with the different language needs of your family? Many families who are learning ASL for one or more children find it a challenge to keep up on all the signs and how to use the correct structure of the language. This can be a daunting task; however here are some tips to remember so that you can accomplish this simple goal of reading to your kids.


With each exposure to the words on print, pictures, and how a story flows (a beginning, middle, and end) literacy and love of books will be fostered. Remember that involving the entire family in literacy-rich activities will help the family grow closer together.

Less than 1 year
  • Learn a few main signs of the book and use your face and classifiers

  • Use your face to describe the emotion of the characters

  • Classifiers to help express the story and not necessarily each word

4-8 years
  • Don’t worry about each word, this will come with time.

  • Remember that reading is fun!

  • Let the child explore the book first. You may not sign anything the first two or three times they look at it because they are visually just taking in all the pictures—this is great!

  • Go to your library and have the child select the books to read. Remember that you only need a few signs at first. Enjoy it.

1-3 years

  • When you use your voice for your hearing children and make the inflections for the characters, do the same with your face for your child who is deaf. The story will pop!

  • Have an older child hold the book so your hands are free to sign more of the story as you read it

  • Have each child or adult (grandparents, aunts, uncles) learn how to express the book in ASL and then the child will have more opportunities with different family members to experience it.

9 and above

Books to read: story books, wordless books, informational books, fairy tales, alphabet books, books with “real” pictures, and stories about real people.

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