Every time we visit Bliss’ audiologist, Jennifer, or meet with Amazing E, we’re reminded of one important action that we’re strongly encouraged to take. Read 10 books a day to Bliss. This is her daily medicine.
There are other recommended activities that are incorporated into Bliss’ day, however, reading to her seems to be the one action that always resurfaces and that parents and caregivers are encouraged to implement. It’s benefits are far-reaching and strengthen language development in addition to overall success in literacy. Check out this article available online, that maps out why reading aloud to a hearing promise child is so beneficial, just click here.
There are several different tracks parents and caregivers can choose from in terms of how a child with hearing promise can learn to communicate. All are wonderful. All are valid. Each family in NC with a hearing promise child, is able to choose the path of communication that is best for their child and their family. There are no right choices or wrong choices. We chose the Auditory Verbal Approach via cochlear implant for Bliss. With this choice, our focus is dual in strengthening her listening and verbal skills during all waking hours, so that listening and speech will develop as if her hearing promise was already fulfilled at birth. Reading is a big part of this development. Moving forward, I will refer to hearing loss as hearing promise. I heard the term “promise,” in another context, from a fabulous advocate for children, David Griffin.
With the start of summer and warm days ahead, there’s no better time to dive into reading! Board books are our favorites, with lots of pictures. Mostly we try and read about 3 to 5 books after breakfast. Then we read about 3 or so right after lunch and pre-nap. Finally, her dad reads to her every night before bedtime. Now let me interject, we try our best to meet the 10-book-a-day quota. Some days are better than others, and sometimes we meet it and sometimes we don’t.
Another fabulous adventure we’ve discovered is the Public Library! My sister-in-law, a talented teacher, told me about story time for children at the library. She encouraged going, and we went…we love it! Not only is Bliss surrounded by other children, but the readings, songs and bubbles are rockin’. Not to mention the best part, it’s FREE! We’re spending a lot of time at the library this summer; between story time and free theatre, we feel like we’ve hit the jackpot. Our public library is a brilliant hybrid which consists of a children’s library + our city’s professional children’s theatre, all under one magnificent roof. Check it out here.
Keeping up with the book quota and other activities for Bliss’ hearing promise, we have had little time for TV. We decided early on that she would not watch TV during her first couple years of life. I know, we’re crazy. It was a personal decision. On a realistic note, there have been occasions where I’ve needed the arms of an octopus, the patience of a saint when the implant’s processor was being eaten, and the discipline of I don’t know who, when I wanted to rip my hair out….and that fabulous TV has been a life saver, buying me a few minutes to deal with what’s at hand. Backyardigans, I could kiss you! Ironically, Bliss seems to have very little interest in TV, and usually watches for a little bit….then she’ll wander back to her toys and eventually her books, wanting mommy to read. Blessing or curse? Perhaps a little bit of both.
Reading has also helped us connect with Bliss in a fun, creative way. She understands the action “turn the page,” and anticipates page-turning like nobody’s business. She is beginning to respond and anticipate changes in stories as they unfold. For instance, she’ll scream or hide her face when the bear wakes up in “Bear Snores On,” and she’ll relax in dad’s arms when she hears “Goodnight Moon.” She is also pointing to specific characters and making appropriate sounds (i.e. “woof woof” for dog, and identifying the pictured dog with her finger). When she is in her playroom, she hangs out by her books. Sometimes she’ll just take books off the shelf, one by one, and sometimes she’ll pick out which ones to be read next. Empowering.
Some of our favorite reads include, in no particular order, “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon; “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown; “Have you Ever Tickled a Tiger?” by Betsy Snyder; “Gossie” by Olivier Dunrea; “Pooh and Friends Marching” by Healthy Kids; “Farm” by Usborne; “Clifford The Big Red Dog” by Norman Bridwell; “Colors” by Bright Baby; “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson + Jane Chapman; “Wheels on the Bus” by Troubadour Learning; “Mr. Wishy- Washy” by Joy Cowley; and finally, “Madeline in London” by Ludwig Bemelmans.
Also, below are a few fun links about reading – check them out! Summer is here, and while there is plenty to do outdoors, be sure to take time and get in your daily dose of reading….for us, it’s sound medicine.
Summer Reading Inspiration:
Barnes + Noble Summer Reading
New York Times Best Seller List – Children’s Picture Books
PBS, Raise a Reader this Summer
Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge
Quick Sound Bites:
-One morning this week, without her implant processor on, Bliss said “poo poo,” to let me know it was time to change her diaper.
-She spontaneously says “bye bye” now, in context.
-She is pronouncing the word “more” with improved clarity every day…especially at meal time!
-She pointed, identified and said “ball” when she saw a picture of a ball in one of her books.