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September 20, 2004

It's Story Time For American Sign

From: The Eureka Reporter, CA - Sep 20, 2004

Working with the Humboldt County Library, Humboldt State University students in the Advanced Sign Language course will rekindle a series of five Saturday afternoon Signed Storytime programs for children at the library.

Beginning Saturday, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., the students will share stories, put on puppet shows, lead activities and offer craft projects designed to increase familiarity with American Sign Language and deaf culture.

Other presentations will be Oct. 23, Nov. 6, Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, all beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The first session will feature "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" by Bill Martin and, according to JoAnn Bauer, the county's children's librarian, "This will be a great opportunity to learn some signs for colors and various animals."

Vonnie Pfingston, who teaches the ASL course at HSU, said the programs are for all children. They give hearing children a sense of sign language and the deaf community, and they allow hearing-impaired children to connect more meaningfully with the story.

In preparing and giving their presentations, Pfingston's students learn to engage children, use creative approaches to signing, develop theme-based teaching projects, and incorporate information about deaf culture.

Their assignments include a 10-minute presentation followed by an arts project for the children lasting about 20 minutes.

Pfingston, Bauer and Rhonda Geldin, a longtime ASL instructor at HSU, designed the program as a service-learning project at HSU in partnership with the university's Department of Child Development.

For five years, until spring of 2003, the monthly children's story hour at the library was interpreted in ASL to mixed audiences ranging from 10 to 30. Coupling the story hour to the HSU class has resurrected the service.

"The last Signed Storytime series was very popular," Bauer said. "We are pleased to be able to offer this program again."

This program is free and all ages are welcome. Disabled individuals who require assistance using the county library's services may phone the library. The Humboldt County Library is at 1313 Third St. in Eureka. For details, phone Bauer at (707) 269-1910 or e-mail Pfingston at

© 2003 The Eureka Reporter All rights reserved.