Shared Reading Saturdays

Shared Reading Saturdays, hosted by the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind, are monthly events open to everyone. The program is geared toward increasing the literacy levels of deaf children while also teaching their hearing parents and caregivers to sign stories in American Sign Language.

“Parents learn a new way to bond with their child – through reading. I’ve also been told that parents enjoy meeting other families, networking, [and] getting play groups together,” said Rosalind Kia, who helps coordinate the Shared Reading Saturday Experience. “In the very beginning, the kids would be shocked that their parent was signing to them, and their eyes would just sparkle with delight. As they got used to the fact that mom or dad was signing the story, I started to see them engaging in the stories more and their love of reading emerging.”

Parents or caregivers watch Deaf community members model a story in American Sign Language, then break into three groups: Beginners, advanced, and men’s. The program found that having an all-men’s group boosted confidence in signing and proved to be more productive.

Group captains help the adults practice signing the story. The story is then divided into sections and each parent or caregiver is assigned a part. They perform their section while being videotaped.

Meanwhile, the keiki take part in activities and crafts that relate to the story their parents and caregivers are learning. A few months ago, when the adults were learning to sign If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff, the kids made mice and cookies out of paper plates. The most recent story was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Clairene and Lane Lima are the legal guardians of their partially deaf granddaughter. The Hawaii Department of Health Early Intervention Section suggested the family attend the event. They did so, even though that meant driving from their home in Nanakuli to the campus of the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. It was their first experience with the program.

“We’re thankful to be here. We’re grateful and we appreciate the help that’s been given to us only in this short amount of time. I learned a lot just by sitting in groups and sharing with others that’s been coming and learning to do sign language and read a book,” said Lane Lima.

Clairene Lima said the program wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. It gave her and her family the opportunity to “get out of where you live and meet different people.” She felt the experience gave her “a sense of relief to know that there’s other people that are in the same boat as us and are learning to communicate in different ways. The support and the love – I mean, I don’t even know these people, but it was a good experience.”

One of Danielle Moran’s three sons, Caiden, is Deaf and attends the Hawaii School for the Deaf and Blind. The Shared Reading programs allows the kids to socialize and learn sign language. When Moran’s husband is home from overseas, he takes part in the program, so they are all learning sign language and bonding as a family. “We’ve been to every single one, every year,” Danielle said. “Before I guess I didn’t know as many families and we all have become friends and support each other now. So that was great. Before I didn’t have that.” Meeting new friends and making playdates were other benefits.

The program is based on the 15 Principles of Reading to Deaf Children (http://www.readingrockets.org/article/15-principles-reading-deaf-children) and has been running since 2012.

“Watching the families sign to their children and seeing the way the kids react definitely makes me want to continue to do this,” said Kia. “I hope we can continue this amazing program. The parents have been extremely responsive. There were times when our funding got cut or a purchase order didn’t get approved in time and I thought I needed to cancel since I couldn’t provide lunch, but the families said, ‘No way! We’ll do potluck!’ That’s when I realized that these families were dedicated and it made the program even more special to me.”

Kia wanted to send out thanks to those who have helped over the years. “I don’t often get the chance to thank those involved in SRS [Shared Reading Saturdays]. I’d like to thank Jennifer Blohm (Department of Health Early Intervention Specialist), [and] this year’s regular tutors Linda Lambrecht, Jeff Lambrecht, and Ed Chevy. I’d also like to thank Cathy Ferreira who always provides a fun and engaging children’s program, and for her tireless efforts to recruit volunteers. And, last but not least, I’d like to thank Deb Chun who volunteers every month to cook a delicious meal for us. I’m very luck and proud to be working with this group and am grateful for their hard work and dedication.”

Click on the titles below to watch videos of Shared Reading Saturdays parents signing:

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

For more information on Shared Reading Saturdays, contact Rosalind Kia, HSDB Parent Community Network Coordinator at roz_kia/hcdb/hidoe@notes.k12.hi.us or call (808) 733-4999 (Phone) / (619) 272-4888 (VP).