Book Highlight: Once Upon a Sign - Ayen's First Day

Ayen's First Day is a beautifully written novel. It opens up a whole new world for children who aren't truly aware of others who are a little different.

The book is about Ayen, a girl who was not born Deaf but became Deaf after contracting an illness. Ayen is very nervous to start at a new school, uncertain of how the other children will react to the new Deaf student. The book is filled with little notes that are in Ayen's perspective, giving a little insight to how she felt at the moment or her opinion of what was happening.

All the small fears that she feels are very relatable, even for someone who isn't Deaf. The book explains how to speak and interact with Deaf people in a way that doesn't bore the reader but rather interests them and makes them want to learn a bit more.


"The first day at a new school is always challenging - but even more so when you’re Deaf. Ayen’s first day starts out well - her new teacher knows Sign Language and some of the children are very friendly. But then things start to go very wrong: some other kids start teasing and bullying Ayen and the school really isn’t equipped to be Deaf friendly or accessible. Will Ayen be able to face all the challenges that come with being different?"

A little about Nancy Gaylard:

Nancy Gaylard was born in South Africa's highveld, where she spent her formative years. Leaving school, she entered the hospitality industry and spent more than 20 years in customer facing roles. This experience highlighted the value of communication, in all its forms, and the impact this has not only on the business but also on basic human interaction. Later Nancy started her own consultancy, specializing in customer service. It was during this time that Nancy was exposed to the impact that people with different abilities have in the workplace, and began working with Deaf people, and in doing so, finding her passion! Nancy now lives in Johannesburg with her husband, son, and dog Steven. Ayen's first day is her debut.

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