Saturday, December 15, 2007

What I'm Reading...

Alone in the Mainstream: A Deaf Woman Remembers Public School (April 2004) by Gina Oliva
Publisher: Gallaudet University Press
224 pages

When Gina Oliva first went to school in 1955, she didn't know that she was "different." If the kindergarten teacher played a tune on the piano to signal the next exercise, Oliva didn't react because she couldn't hear the music. So began her journey as a "solitary," her term for being the only deaf child in the entire school. Gina felt alone because she couldn't communicate easily with her classmates, but also because none of them had a hearing loss like hers. It wasn't until years later at Gallaudet University that she discovered that she wasn't alone and that her experience was common among mainstreamed deaf students. Alone in the Mainstream recounts Oliva's story, as well as those of many other solitaries.
Oliva combined her personal experiences with responses from the Solitary Mainstream Project, a survey that she conducted of deaf and hard of hearing adults who attended public school. Oliva matched her findings with current research on deaf students in public schools and confirmed that hearing teachers are ill-prepared to teach deaf pupils, they don't know much about hearing loss, and they frequently underestimate deaf children. The collected memories in Alone in the Mainstream adds emotional weight to the conviction that students need to be able to communicate freely, and they also need peers to know they are not alone.

Wait for Me by An Na
Reading level: Ages 9-12
192 pages
Publisher: Puffin Reprint Edition (September 6, 2007)

Mina appears to be the perfect daughter. She is bound for Harvard, president of the honor society, a straight A student, helps out at her family's dry cleaning company and takes care of her young sister, Suna (since their mother isn't such a nurturer). During the summer before her senior year in high school, Mina appears to be responsible. She has conjured up so many lies that lead her mother into believing in Mina's fabricated life. In reality, a family "friend", using that term lightly, has taught her about stealing from the family's business. Mina's perfection turns out to be a life of lies. The character, Suna, is "hearing-impaired" and uses hearing aids.

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