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Successful Shared Reading with Young Deaf Children: What Teachers Can Learn From Deaf Mothers

Maribeth N. Lartz, Robert Foster, Brian Somers, & Julie Dunn, Illinois State University

Research points to a strong relationship between literacy values received at home and literacy-related behavior in school. In spite of this relationship, literacy acquisition for deaf children falls well below the national average for hearing students. One strong predictor for literacy success in deaf children is early shared communication between mother and child during book reading experiences. Deaf children with deaf parents are already participants in these unique communication exchanges during reading. Deaf children with hearing mothers may not have communication exchanges as complex and rich as those of deaf children with deaf parents.

The majority of deaf children in preschool/kindergarten programs receive their education from hearing teachers. Do hearing teachers employ book reading strategies with young, deaf children similar to those of deaf mothers? If not, what alternative strategies are utilized? The strategies that hearing teachers use when reading to deaf preschool/kindergarten children were described using several videotapes of teacher-child dyads. These strategies were compared to those which have been documented as used by deaf mothers.

Using the strategies described on the videotapes and several popular children s books, deaf graduate students demonstrated how to incorporate these strategies into storytelling. Suggestions for sharing the strategies with preservice teachers was discussed.