Title: Kami and the Yaks
Author: Andrea Stenn Stryer
Illustrator: Bert Dodson
Grade: Kindergarten – 2 (Ages 5-7)
Publisher: Bay Otter Press
Summary: Kami and the Yaks tells the story of a young, Sherpa boy in the Himalayas. Kami’s family discover their yaks are missing. Kami, wanting to help, goes off by himself to find the heard. Kami, deaf and unable to speak, uses a whistle, his heightened sense of observation and mime/gestures to find the yaks, communicate their location to his family, and save the heard. Kami demonstrates the difficulties that children with disabilities might face and how creative, resourceful, and resilient they are in overcoming adversity. The story gives readers a glimpse into Sherpa culture and life. Furthermore, the story highlights Deaf culture and emphasizes that deafness is not a weakness.
Element II – Respect for Others: This story does a wonderful job of highlighting deafness and Deaf culture. Deaf culture, with uppercase D, refers to the beliefs, traditions, history and values of those who are a part of the community. Individuals, hearing or Deaf, who belong to this community view deafness as a difference in how to experience the world and life, not as a disability. Kami’s story illustrates that children who are Deaf or hard-of-hearing can develop typically socially, cognitively, and emotionally. Readers can also learn about the different ways in which people can communicate.
Activity: I would create an activity that would encourage students to think about what it might be like to be a student who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing. “How would daily life change if you couldn’t hear well or at all? How would you chat on the playground? How could you participate in class? Could you still play video games or watch tv?” “Furthermore, what would life be like if you did not have use of your taste, smell, sight, touch?” Students then brainstorm ways in which they could use their other senses and technology to communicate and interact.