I was lucky enough a few weeks ago to be able to review a copy of Danny the Dragon: Meets Jimmy by author Tina Turbin. You can read that review here. Along with the book, I was also sent a DVD, which contains a retelling of the book, along with sign language interpretation! My main area of research while working on my master's degree in literacy education centered around the unique literacy needs of the deaf and hard of hearing (HOH) students. Did you know that the average deaf or HOH high school graduate graduates with only a 4th grade reading level? Further, researchers believe that reading is the single most difficult academic hurdle that deaf and HOH students face. National initiatives such as No Child Left Behind mandates that all children be able to read by 3rd grade, but deaf and HOH students are consistently left behind their hearing peers. One theory on the low reading levels of deaf/hoh students is due to the lack of print rich media that is accessible to these students.
Author Tina Turbin, an advocate for literacy, created the Danny the Dragon DVD in order to give deaf/hoh students an opportunity to see the beautiful illustrations of the book along with signed interpretations. As I stated in my review of the book, Danny the Dragon: Meets Jimmy is a cute story of a little boy named Jimmy, who finds a shell on the beach that talks to him. Upon returning home with the shell, a friendly dragon named Danny (with red tennis shoes!) emerges from the shell. Jimmy and his family invite Danny and his guide Skipper to join them for dinner. After dinner, Danny and Skipper join Jimmy, his sister, and the neighborhood kids for a game of catch. After dinner, it is decided that Danny and Skipper should stay with the family overnight. Jimmy desires to know more about Danny and Skipper, but Danny tells him that he will tell him more later (which hopefully means another book is on the way soon!). The characters are polite and helpful, which serve as a great role model for young readers. The illustrations, done by artist Aija Jasuna, will help keep readers focused. And the sign language interpretation is not disruptive, but adds to the telling of the story.
Half of the proceeds of the DVD sales go to Blossom Montessori School for the Deaf, and the other half goes towards other causes which support literacy and education for the welfare of all children. Author Tina Turbin provides a brief introduction at the beginning of the DVD which provides more information about Blossom Montessori school, and gives startling statistics about deaf/hoh students. And although the DVD was designed for deaf/hoh students, I still think hearing students would enjoy it, as well. It is not distracting, and if anything, I think hearing students would enjoy getting to "see" another language. It could also serve to help hearing students understand their deaf/hoh peers.
Overall, this is a great DVD! It's the first DVD of this type that I have ever heard of, and I wish more publishers would follow suit and create signed DVD books for the deaf. And I think it's wonderful that Tina Turbin is generously donating all the proceeds. If you've never heard of Tina Turbin, I urge you to check out her website (http://www.tinaturbin.com). She is a humanitarian, radio spokes-woman, as well as an award winning children's author. She helps many people in the allergy, celiac, autistic, and gluten-free "worlds," and she works hard to make these topics more known. She is a strong supporter of families, kids, and education. She founded the website http://glutenfreehelp.info, which is an awesome site with lots of gluten free recipes and information.