Nursery rhymes in American Sign Language (ASL) can be used in parent-infant and early childhood programs to support early acquisition of sign language, ASL literacy, and emergent English literacy. As a form of children's ASL literature, ASL nursery rhymes manipulate the abstract, sublexical, or phonological structure of signs to provide children with playful language experiences. As such, these rhymes provide early sign language phonological awareness, which allows Deaf children to develop ASL vocabulary to bridge to English words as well as a vehicle to segment printed letters when reading words. This paper aims to: (1) provide an overview of the benefits of nursery rhymes; (2) compare the structure of English and ASL nursery rhymes; (3) describe how ASL nursery rhymes support ASL and English literacy, encouraging language play and thus reducing linguistic neglect; (4) describe studies showing benefits of ASL rhymes; and (5) provide implications for practitioners.


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pp. 5-40
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