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As the mother of a son who is deaf, a very young Angeliki Stamatopoulou-Pedersen was always looking for a children's book that would address the complex experiences of her child as he moved through childhood with his hearing loss. Eventually, she wrote one herself. Brilliantly illustrated by Tety Solou, an original Greek version was published in 2011, and was followed by the English translation, “The Secrets Hidden Beneath the Palm Tree” published in 2019. Deeply impressed by the book, Abha Sharma, who has also been deaf since childhood, was inspired to translate the book into the Hindi language so it could be accessible to a larger global audience. Her husband, Rajendra Sharma, collaborated with her on this deeply personal project.
We believe that this book will be an instrumental resource for introducing hearing loss in a joyful and practical manner to all children. The book also provides simple explanations and effective communication strategies for all Hindi-speaking children, parents, teachers, and clinicians in South Asia and around the world.
Seated under the palm tree, in a quiet place on the edge of the school playground, Sanjay and Sakina have a friendly talk. Sanjay is able to reveal the “secrets” for a successful conversation between a child who is deaf or wears hearing aids and one who does not. He goes on to point out how important it is to speak clearly and slowly and to be in close proximity to and face the person who wears hearing aids so they can lip read. On her part, Sakina displays a tender and sensitive side. She wants to learn how to play a more active and responsible role in integrating her new friend into all the activities in the classroom and playground. While various strategies such as lip reading games and the availability of specially trained hearing dogs that help with hearing can be beneficial, the role of parents and family at home and friends and teachers at school is crucial in developing empathy, and in creating an encouraging and supportive environment for all children.