You know your baby may not understand sign language yet, but the closeness, attention, and bright, interesting colors and shapes are still exciting. Best of all, your baby has your undivided attention.
When you are sharing a book,
keep the book visible and your signs visible.
How can you do that? Most books for small children will stay open.
Where do you and your baby like to sit and have conversations? Take your books there. Just be sure the child can see your face, the signs, and the book.
Notice how the adult is right on the infant’s eye level. This is a good position for signing a story.
Many popular children’s stories have been translated into American Sign Language and can be accessed online. Why are these helpful?
Here is a link to signed stories available online:
Some states offer a Shared Reading Program led by Deaf adults (check the
Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University for more information). If this program is not available in your area, you may be able to find opportunities to meet Deaf adults who can help you learn to read and tell stories.
Here we see a Deaf adult signing about some simple pictures for a young child. Notice how expressive her face is! Deaf adults have much to share about ways to make the words visually interesting!! Ask your early intervention program how to access Deaf adults in your community.
She signs "mouse," and then shows how the mouse is looking off in the distance, and later starts to nibble on a paper. Notice that both her face and her signs convey feelings and actions.
Every time you and your baby share a book, you will feel more confident about telling the story and about your conversations.
See this YouTube clip of a little one signing at a young age! It shows the benefits of being read to early!