Emergent Literacy for Deaf/Hard of Hearing Infants/Toddlers
By Kelly Luke

"Books are as essential a food for the developing mind as cereal, fruit and vegetables are for the growing body. In an environment where books are valued and used, competence is achieved early (Butler, 35)."


Butler, Dorothy. Babies Need Books. Atheneum. New York. 1980.

      I have personally enjoyed free reading (or reading for fun) since seventh grade. When I discovered that many deaf/hard of hearing (d/hh) students graduate high school with no more than a fourth grade reading level, I was shocked and appalled. It has been my experience, that many adults do not believe that the students are capable to achieve a higher reading level. Therefore, the students are not encouraged nor challenged to read in order to obtain better reading skills. Since I am currently working in early intervention, I feel strongly that I need to express how vital excellent reading skills are for young d/hh children. Thus, this information is currently directed towards parents of d/hh infants and toddlers. In the future, I hope to obtain a degree as a reading teacher for d/hh students. Following some work in the field, I hope to lead seminars with other professionals and parents who support my strong beliefs that d/hh students are capable of much more than what is typically expected of them.

      This information has been gathered as a resource. This page is the acts as the base. It gives an overview of the information found within. The questions listed below are linked to this page. The questions will direct you to more specific information. These questions are listed according to the items I felt were of most importance. Please peruse anything that you believe may be helpful to you and your family. Share the information with friends and family when applicable.


  1. Definitions of emergent literacy, reading readiness, early literacy
  2. What is "emergent literacy"?
  3. When is a logical age to begin reading to my child?
  4. Why is emergent literacy important?
  5. What are the emerging literacy skills?
  6. Will deaf/hard of hearing children obtain emerging literacy skills in the same manner their hearing peers do?
  7. How can I better promote reading in my home?
  8. What types of reading programs are available in communities for very young children?
Please direct comments or questions to:
Kelly Luke
Parent/Infant Outreach Specialist
North Dakota School for the Deaf
9th Floor/DPI
600 East Boulevard Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58505