This video is an example of a shared reading moment between Jaclyn's daughter Kiera and her friend and classmate. Both children come from Deaf families, which means ASL and written English are their first and primary languages. 

Parents and caregivers may apply the techniques shown in this video by following David Schleper's Fifteen Principles for Reading to Deaf Children (see below). Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to videotape the reading process because this creates permanency and captures the joy of reading  together. 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was already introduced to these Deaf children in the past. In this video, they share their version of this story.


Schleper (1997) outlined 15 principles to use when reading to deaf children.

  1. Translate stories using ASL. Focus on concepts and use lots of fingerspelling.
  2. Keep both languages (ASL and English) visible. Make sure children see both the signing and the words along with pictures.
  3. Elaborate on the text. Add explanations about the text to make it more understandable.
  4. Reread stories on a "storytelling" to a "storyreading" continuum. The first few times, make sure the child understands the story. Then, slowly, focus more and more on the text.
  5. Follow the child's lead. What does the child want to read? What if the child wants to read just one part of a book, and then move to another? Follow the child.
  6. Make what is implied explicit. Make the hidden meanings clear.
  7. Adjust sign placement to fit the story. Sometimes sign on the page. Sometimes sign on the child and sometimes sign in the usual place.
  8. Adjust the signing style to fit the story. Be dramatic. Play with the signs and exaggerate facial expressions to show different characters.
  9. Connect concepts in the story to the real world. Relate the characters to real events.
  10. Use attention maintenance strategies. Tap lightly on your child's shoulder, or give a gentle nudge to keep his or her attention.
  11. Use eye gaze to elicit participation. Look at the child while reading.
  12. Engage in role-playing to extend concepts. Act out the story after you have read it. 
  13. Use ASL variations to sign repetitive English phrases. If you are using the same phrase over and over, vary the signs.
  14. Provide a positive and reinforcing environment. Encourage the child to share ideas about the story and support the child's ideas.
  15. Expect the child to become literate. Believe in the child's success and read, read, read!


The SRP is designed to teach parents and caregivers how to read English in print to their deaf and hard of hearing child using ASL, and to use reading strategies to make book sharing most effective. Adults serve as a model for children who are learning sign language by showing how to connect events within a story, how to talk about and react to what is read, how to construct meaning by using all the information available, and how to translate print into signed storytelling.Books are available for parents and caregivers to loan.

Go to the Shared Reading Project Website by clicking here!


Schleper, D. R. (1997). Reading to deaf children: Learning from deaf adults. Washington, DC: Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet University.


    © Jaclyn Vincent 2015. All rights reserved.