Picture Books About ASL and Deafness

Dad and Me in the Morning by Patricia Lakin. (Whitman, 1994)

Early one morning, when it is still dark, a young boy wakes to his special alarm clock. He puts on his hearing aid and his clothes, then goes to wake his father. Together they walk down to the beach. Jacob cannot hear, so he and his father sign or lipread or just squeeze each other’s hands. This poetic story is beautifully illustrated in glowing watercolors.

The Garden Wall by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes. (Charlesbridge, 2006)

Tim is taken aback when he learns that his new neighbor is not only a girl, but is also deaf. When he is assigned to work with her to perform a fable at school, he’s nervous – but as he gets to know Maria, their performance of “The Hearing Country Mouse and the Deaf City Mouse” comes together, and they become friends. This story introduces some basic sign language as well as information about the technology used by Deaf people.

The Handmade Alphabet by Laura Rankin (Dial Books, 1991)

To celebrate the expressiveness of ASL, artist Laura Rankin presents her striking interpretation of the manual alphabet. Here, the hand that signs “V” holds a valentine, “I” points to delicate icicles, and “O” dangles a shining ornament.

The Handmade Counting Book by Laura Rankin. (Dial Books, 1998)

The acclaimed author of “The Handmade Alphabet” now presents a book that pairs American Sign Language signs for the numbers 1-20, 25, 50, 75, and 100 with beautifully drawn objects.

Handtalk Zoo by George Ancona & Mary Beth. (Four Winds Press, 1989)

As they make their way through the zoo, a group of children sign and fingerspell the names of the animals. In addition to signing animal names, the telling of time is expressed with the signing of numbers 1–12 in a clocklike shape. Vibrant color photographs depict the action of the story and the signing, while black-and-white insets show the fingerspelling.

The Moses books by Isaac Millman (Farrar Straus & Giroux): Moses Goes to a Concert (1998), Moses Goes to School (2000) , Moses Goes to the Circus (2003), Moses Sees a Play (2004)

These excellent picture books incorporate basic sign language instruction into stories of a little boy named Moses, who is deaf. The illustrations are child- friendly and clearly depict the signs, which are related to the story. Of special note is Moses Goes to School, which offers a look at everyday life in a school for the deaf.

The Printer by Myron Uhlberg (Peachtree, 2003)

This unique picture book presents the tale of a deaf printer who, through the use of American Sign Language, is able to communicate with other deaf printers over the roar of the printing presses, and save their hearing counterparts from a fire.

Secret Signs: Along the Underground Railroad by Anita Riggio. (Boyds Mills Press, 1997)

In the mid-1800s, Luke and his mother help support themselves by making panoramic eggs of maple sugar. When a man bursts into their home and accuses them of hiding slaves, Luke’s mother denies the charges–although she is planning to meet her contact on the Underground Railroad that very day. With his mother held at home, Luke, who is deaf, must use his resources and creative talents to help make the connection.

Sesame Street Sign Language ABC with Linda Bove (Random House, 1985)

A perennial favorite, this book offers both colorful illustrations and crisp, full- color photos of deaf actress Linda Bove performing the signs.

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