Bridging language through reading bilingual books, and fostering a love of reading between the parent and child.
A Visit to the Zoo. A story about a deaf girl who goes to the zoo with her mother.
A little bit of context
HI! We’re two Melbourne based friends who’ve written a story book, and we’re deaf. One of us grew up with deaf parents, the other with hearing parents, and in both cases story time as kids was a lot more like choose your own adventure.
Based on our experiences growing up, we’ve written and are self publishing the first of what will hopefully become a series of children’s books. Not just any children’s books, but a series of bilingual Auslan story books for families with deaf or hard of hearing members, or people interested in Auslan. The Auslan signs have been terrifically drawn by deaf artist, Shaun Fahey (NZ), alongside the wonderful story illustrations by Janet King (UK). The first book coming out focuses on signs for zoo animals, with another in the works.
Huh? What is Auslan?
Auslan stands for Australian Sign Language, and these books are being created for families who have or know someone that uses it. By adding pictures of the corresponding Auslan signs alongside our story, children and parents, regardless of hearing ability, are all on the same page. This allows deaf children in particular to develop their first language proficiently, as hearing children do when reading books, while also allowing non-Auslan users to become familiar with every day signs, and recognise the difference between the two languages.
Each book is topical, for example our first book is about animals at the zoo, while future books will include common situations like the first day of school, visiting the doctor and going to the shops, or not-so-common situations like emergency situations.
Why are we doing this?
Other than the fact that we would have LOVED these books as kids, we believe every family should be able to read to their children. We’re also acutely aware of the benefit these bilingual books can have in helping bridge the two languages between family members.
- Every child deserves to see themselves represented in books, giving them a sense of identity and belonging.
- There are very few books available like this and any that have signs have usually been written overseas and therefore are not in Auslan.
- The big difference with our books is that they don’t stigmatise or glorify deafness. Instead, they show it for the everyday situation it is for everyday families.
- It makes learning to sign fun and accessible to those who have a loved one that is deaf.