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American Sign Language Storytime continues to thrive at Forsyth County Public Library
show of hands fcn
Photo courtesy Forsyth County Public Library.

Forsyth County Public Library delivers a unique monthly story time in ASL and English for deaf, hard of hearing, hearing children, CODAs, or child of deaf adults, and their families.

“A Show of Hands” story time at the Post Road Library was developed by FCPL in fall 2018 to meet a need in the Forsyth County community after learning their traditional story time format didn’t work for one resident’s 2-year-old deaf son.

Post Road Library Youth Specialists reached out to ASL and deaf community experts in the area to research and develop the recurring story time for maximum effectiveness and accessibility. They then partnered with Tracey Varrone, owner of Brick and Ivy Studio and former elementary school teacher with a background in ASL, and Amanda Tate, professional ASL interpreter for Forsyth County Schools to create and facilitate the program each month. 

As opposed to a traditional Post Road Library story time which typically includes three to four books, action songs, and a puppet show, the “A Show of Hands” story time uses only two to three books, but each one is read multiple times in a row.

Tracey typically begins each book with a “picture walk” which is a visual preview to spark interest and connection. During the picture walk, Tracey introduces signs that will be used throughout the book, demonstrating them and encouraging the children to sign along with her.

“Picture walks are slow–that’s how we get ready to read,” Varrone said.

After the picture walk, Varrone and Tate read the book aloud twice in English and ASL simultaneously. This repetition is the key to building vocabulary and integrating new signs.

Another unique element of this program is the unstructured time Varrone and Tate provide between each book and at the end of the program for fellowship and creative play.

They often set out a variety of seasonally themed manipulatives for fine motor and gross motor exploration, according to a news release. Several returning families have bonded with each other and look forward to this monthly social outlet with other families in the deaf community, not to mention the shared resources and support.

Families have traveled from as far as Ellijay, Roswell, and Kennesaw to attend this all-ages story time in Forsyth County. 

“We are so pleased to be able to provide such a meaningful experience for this community. Watching the older children help the younger ones with new signs while their caregivers share tips and resources is so heartwarming,” said Amy Szvetecz, supervisor of Post Road Library Youth Services.

The next “A Show of Hands” ASL story time is at 1:15 p.m., Saturday, May 14, at the Post Road Library, 5010 Post Road in Cumming. FCPL will be moving this program to a 3 p.m. time slot on Saturday June 18 and Saturday, July 16.

No registration is necessary. For more information, please visit the FCPL website or connect with FCPL on social media @forsythpl.