Thursday, July 19, 2007

Gallaudet Teacher Shares Her Love of Books

Back in May, 2007, I came across a compilation of books with deaf and hard of hearing characters on

Now there's more:

Sharon Pajka-West, Ph.D., loves books with deaf and hard of hearing characters in them. She provides extensive reviews on her blog: Deaf Characters in Adolescent Literature. An instructor at Gallaudet in the Department of Applied Literacy, Sharon was diagnosed with Meneier's Disease at the age of fifteen. A doctor told her she would be deaf by the time she was 30.

In her twenties, Sharon's hearing began fluctuating so she and her mom enrolled in American Sign Language class together. Her instructor urged her to consider a career in Deaf Education.

"I never wanted to be a teacher," says Sharon. "My first ASL teacher, a graduate of Gallaudet, convinced me to go to graduate school there."

Sharon taught for eight years, first at The Learning Center in Boston and at The Virginia School for the Deaf in Staunton, then a year in a mainstream school. "I like teenage kids, they're fun!"

Sharon tries to instill a love for books with the students she teaches. "Many of my students hated English... which I could understand because I wasn't a big fan until middle school when I discovered the Sweet Valley Twins series. Before that I was a struggling reader."

On her blog, Sharon has a variety of information, including interviews with authors, book reviews and a newsletter for teachers. She keeps an extensive list of over one hundred books of Adolescent Literature Books with Deaf Characters.

When asked about her favorite books, Sharon shares, "From the hearing authors, I really like Jean Ferris' Of Sound Mind. And from the deaf authors, I really enjoyed Nobody's Perfect(Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney-- who is hearing).

Sharon has a seven hour commute to her job, four days a week. "It may seem crazy," she says, "but I do take the train."

"Lots of time to read!" she says, with a wink.


Becky said...

Love the lists. Thanks for posting them.

LaRonda said...

Thanks for sharing Sharon's blog. I poked around there for quite awhile. Very fun place to visit!

~ LaRonda

Nita said...

What do you mean "7-hour commute" to her work??? 3-1/2 hours EACH way?? Gosh... that's a L-O-T!!!!!!

Karen said...

Yup, a long commute! But think of all the books she can read during that time on the train. :)

Hannah said...

Hello! I just happened upon this blog. I must say I am thrilled to meet another mother who is deaf! I am hoh with hearing aids and deaf w/o them. I have 1 daughter who is the same. The rest of my children are hearing. I have siblings who are deaf/hoh some of them attended G.U. (A host of relatives who are deaf/hoh)

My blog is a ministry blog catered to Believers/Christians. In any event, I wanted to drop a comment and say Hello!

Hannah said...

BTW I'm from the chicagoland area as well :)

Blondie said...

Greetings from Chicago, too. I'm hearing, but I've also read Of Sound Mind. I think it is a helpful book for teens to understand the hoh community. Book links are always an excellent way to educate. Found you on blogher. Go blogging ladies!!!