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'Read with Me, Sign with Me' Storytime is Quality Time for Families

By: Marcey Wright

"Read with Me, Sign with Me" storytime is 'quality time' for families with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children.More than just a storytime alone, “Read with Me, Sign with Me” is family time – a chance for families with deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing children to enjoy a story that’s read aloud and signed at the same time.

“‘Read with Me, Sign with Me’ brings a diverse group of people together – young and old, hearing, hard-of-hearing, and deaf – to practice signing everyday words, to learn best practices for helping deaf children learn to read, and to enjoy stories together,” explained Children’s Librarian Susan Penn. “The program also offers time for interaction between those who sign and those who don’t. There is a strong sense of community-building taking place,” she said.

Families with children ages 2 – 12 are invited to attend storytimes at 11 am on Saturdays, January 11, February 1, March 1, April 5, and May 3 at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library (3030 Poplar Avenue).

During storytimes, an age appropriate story is read and signed, followed by sign language practice, conversation, and arts and crafts related to the story. “We try to make the program a learning opportunity for children and parents as well,” Penn noted. “Children usually make something to take with them. Tips to broaden parents’ understanding of early literacy, writing, vocabulary, child development, the deaf culture, and more are shared at each program also”.

“Read with Me, Sign with Me” results from a partnership between the Memphis Public Library and Information Center, Deaf Family Literacy Mid-South, and Rhodes College. The trio works together to bring the storytime to families who make it a regular activity. “Each program draws between 25 and 65 Library customers on any Saturday and, yes, we have regular attendants,” Penn said. “‘Read with Me, Sign with Me’ has helped to encourage families with deaf and hard-of-hearing children to use the Library and trust that the Library has something to offer them,” she concluded.

For more information about “Read with Me, Sign with Me,” call (901) 415-2739.