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Photo: Story time for deaf children

Story time is a great is a fun way to introduce your child to new and exciting worlds that help them develop their concentration and imagination as well as helping introduce them to new vocabulary.

Songs and rhymes are also good because repetitive language and actions make it easier for your child to remember the story they tell.

When you're telling stories to your child, try to communicate slowly at first. The most important thing is not the speed of your signing but your clarity and accuracy.

In many ways reading and storytelling with your child is much the same as with a hearing child. However, here's a few tips to make sure your child gets as much enjoyment form the story as possible:

  • Make sure your child can see the book, your face and the signs you are using. This will help them to understand how the elements of storytelling are connected together.
  • Make sure there is plenty of light on you so your child can see your facial expressions and signs easily
  • Use eye contact to keep their attention
  • Use lots of facial expressions to show how characters feel
  • Try and use gestures and mannerisms that fit the characters in the story, like being big, loud and heavy for an elephant and small and timid for a mouse.
  • If you're using your voice try and make it as the characters would be. For a giant, you could do a deep and slow voice, for a fairy a small and quiet one.
  • Even if your child can’t hear you at all, they will pick up on those elements of the characters by lipreading you and watching your gestures and expressions. Remember, keep storytelling fun and be as expressive as you can.

It’s important to keep your child as involved as possible in story time; it will help keep them interested and improve their concentration. Here's some things you can try to get your child to take an active part in storytime:

  • Let your child choose a story they want to read and let them touch the book and turn the pages.
  • Use pop-up books to keep your child's interest.
  • Allow your child to ask lots of questions about the story so you can explain what's happening.
  • Be guided by what your child is interested in and let them point out the parts of the story they like the most.
  • Spell out words and use fingerspelling, or ask your child to find different letters in books. This will help your child remember how those words are spelt.
  • As your child’s communication skills develop, encourage them to take a more active role in telling the story. You could take turns signing a page or even a sentence each.

As your signing skills improve, try and include finger spelling in your stories and spell out words or ask your child to find different letters in books.

Eventually, your child could tell you the whole story in their own words and signs. It's a great way for them to be creative and express themselves.

Try and have fun with your storytelling and make up new stories with your child.

Here's some helpful tips to get your creative juices flowing and help keep your stories fresh and exciting:

  • Practice using the signs you know and don’t worry if you get stuck, you make them up. You can always come back and learn the correct signs later.
  • Don’t feel you always have to follow the written text. Tell your stories in your own words
  • Involve your child and let them move the story along by making decisions for characters or events in the story if they want to.

Remember, your stories don't always have to come from books. You can tell real life stories about yourself and your family. This is a great way to involve other family members as they can tell stories about family stories.

You could be really creative and make a storybook using family photographs. Or make a scrap book together about a family holiday or fun activity and retell the story with your child.

Choosing books can be fun, so get your child involved to choose a story to read together.

Here are some things to think about when you’re choosing books for your deaf child:

Very young children love colourful and very visual books. Clear and uncluttered pictures help them understand easily what is happening in the story.

  • Touch and feel books are great fun and give you lots to discuss and learn about.
  • Picture dictionaries can be really useful and make it easier for your child to understand the meaning behind a word, helping them increase their vocabulary.
  • When your child is ready, choose books that can develop and extend their language; books with new words and signs, or a more complex story that challenges them.
  • Look for books and stories with positive images of deafness. There are lots of books and apps that include deaf characters and this will help your child gain a positive self-image.


To get you started, take a look at our story books, Daisy and Ted's Awesome Adventures, and Jake and Jasmine to the Rescue. starring deaf characters!