Shared Reading Project Brings Stories to Life

By Alison and Troy Talbert

As hearing parents of a deaf child we realized that to teach our child we would need to become students ourselves. At first, learning the basics of sign language and offering those signs to a toddler was not only fun but relatively easy - signing "more", "eat", "ball", "mom and dad" was a manageable skill to master and a great confidence builder. Of course, as our daughter got older, her language needs grew beyond these simple words. She was excited about all the things in the world, reading being one of her favorite things to do. This is where we really needed help. Our "Signed English", word-for-word reading was neither fun nor productive for either of us.  We knew there had to be a better way to create a love and appreciation for reading and the necessary skills it would require.

We were excited to learn about a reading program that would help us with our dilemma appropriately named the Shared Reading Project (SRP).  SRP is sponsored by Gallaudet University. We first found out about SRP through the school that our child attends (Rocky Mountain Deaf School). The program provides a more structured environment for hearing parents to participate in their children's reading. A tutor comes to our home on a weekly basis to assist us in signing books with our daughter. The tutor allows the child to choose from a number of different children's books ranging from very basic "picture" books to more advanced books. Along with the book, we receive a videotape allowing us to review the signs and ASL concepts. Also included is an activity sheet outlining a number of creative and fun things to do with our daughter related to the book. For example, we chose the book Clifford's Halloween , where Clifford searched for the perfect Halloween costume. It was fun for our child to mimic Clifford's activities in her search for the perfect costume. After reviewing the book for a week, we had great conversations and funny anecdotes relating to the story. Just as with every child, it is so exciting to see our daughter make the connection between the written word and objects and concepts coming together. The Shared Reading Project and all of its wonderful volunteers are making a huge impact on our child's education and our ability to share in her reading experiences.

For information on SRP programs available nationally, see the Gallaudet website at:

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