Can you imagine living in a home where there are no books, nothing to read, no before bed stories?I have been in homes when I have worked in the birth to three program where there were none. I had to bring in books to read to the child. I had to educate a parent on how to read bedtime stories. This was so foreign to me. I grew up in a home where I always had bedtime stories and I loved to read. My own children have bookshelves upon bookshelves filled with books.
You might think this just happened in the homes of inner city or poor families. Actually,that is not the case. That I could understand. As hard as it was, I get it-food is much more of a priority than books. What made me sad was the homes of middle to upperclass families who had no kids' books or had them sitting on shelves covered in dust.
I asked a mom once why the books were covered in dust. The answer was simple-"My child is deaf. I can't read to him." That broke my heart. There is so much more connected to reading than just the act of reading the words on the page. I taught the mother how holding the child in her arms, rocking the child, bonding with the child, showing the child "pre reading" skills of turning pages, pointing to pictures,etc was just as important if not more than the actual act of reading. Children of all ages are meant to be cuddled with,loved, bonded to and held. This is a great way to do those things. I encourage parents of severely deaf children to sing with their children. Again, rocking those babies to bed at night sinning lullabies shows the baby that you love them deeply,even if they never hear your voice.
I wrote Forever Friends as a gift to all children with hearing loss. I want children and their parents to see it is OK that their child has hearing loss. I want to get this book into as many hands of families with hearing loss as possible. I believe this is the start of a great series that children of all abilities can relate to.
I have a request for you all. I ask you to read with your child. I ask that if you think my book is worthy, buy it for you or yourself or someone you know. It is a book for children and adults of all ages. I have an extra request this time of year-if you have a spare $8, I am asking people to consider donating a book to families in the Deaf Mentor Project. This is an incredible program in WI that has a Deaf adult come to the home each week and teach the family American Sign Language and about Deaf Culture. I think it would be great if all of these families can have a copy of Forever Friends so they know that Deaf IS good.
Here is more info about the Deaf Mentor Program: http://www.wesp-dhh.wi.gov/Brochures/Brochure_DMP.pdf
If you are interested, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy reading!
Allison Schley has been in the field of deaf and hard of hearing education for 20 years. She founded a nonprofit for families with hearing loss. She most recently wrote a children's book, entitled Forever Friends. This book shows the how a deaf dog and deaf boy teach the world that all kids are good and being deaf is okay.