Forever Friends is a book in a series about a deaf dog who is adopted by a deaf boy( Shh..don't tell anyone ,you will wreck the ending!). Many people ask who the book is targeted towards-what age, what group,etc? I answer that when you look at first at the book, you see bright bold, pictures, short sentences and a short book. This leads you to believe it is written as a read aloud to preschool through first graders. You would be correct in that guess. However, if you look at the themes of friendship, deafness, acceptance, differences, rejection and adoption, you see that children and adults of all ages can benefit and relate to these topics. So,the book really is for people of all ages. People who can relate to dogs, hearing loss and children in general have found the book to be interesting. The topics are universal,which I think has led to its success.
I have had a few questions about the choices in the book:
1. Why do you add "Pit Bull" and " Samoyd" instead of just "dog"?
2. Why do you use sign language?
3. Why do you have the story of the dog copy the story of the boy?
4. Why do you use such big words as "leash" and "trainer" rather than the "person"?
The list goes on. All of these are valid and I welcome questions, as they give me reasons to answer!
1. Many times, children with hearing loss are not given numerous labels of items and are not taught vocabulary at an indepth level. For example:
Mama; Points out the window and says,'Oh, there is a birdie!"
Child with hearing loss: Points to window and says, "Uh"
Mama: "Yes, there is a birdie."
Child with hearing loss: " Uh
Mama... moves away from the window
Mama: Points out the window and says, "Oh,there is a birdie."
Child with normal hearing: "B"
Mama: " Yes, it is a birdie!"
Child with normal hearing: "Bir"
Mama: "Yes, see it is a red bird, called a Cardinal."
This Motherese and language expansion often stops when the hearing parent of a child with hearingloss feels frustrated that she can't communicate properly and the child is not returning the communication. I wanted children to be able to be taught different names of things, rather than think all dogs are dogs.
2. The boy in the book is deaf and he signs, so I thought it would be great for us to teach you some signs to use with your children or friends. It has sparked interest in some of my readers to look in a sign language dictionary and learn more signs.
3. Children and young readers love and crave repetition. It helps them follow and remember a story. Children do not learn to "read" but rather memorize at first. They also learn to use a book,which way does the page turn, which way does Mom point on the page,etc? The stories are very similar,too,because both characters are deaf and both are feeling left out due to their deafness. Some children can relate to the cihld's story,but others can relate easier to the dog.
4. Again, I chose words so that the children with hearing loss can learn proper vocabulary at a young age. We already will have to play catch up with language for these children-why add to the delay?Name objects what they are an move on. More importantly, don' just teach your children labels and nouns. Include as many verbs as possible.
If you have a copy, please let me know if there are other questions you have or if there are things that you thought I did a nice job with purposefully adding into the story. I would love your feedback. If you have not bought a copy yet, please do at www.2foreverfriends.com before the second book arrives and you are behind the times!
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.