From the ABCs and the “1-2-3s” to full sentences, this fun guide, illustrated with photos of children signing, teaches youngsters all the basics of American Sign Language (ASL). They’ll start with the alphabet and counting, and move on to vocabulary for family, pets, and the home; things at school; days of the week; colors; favorite foods; sports and hobbies; and much more. Often, a sentence accompanies the sign, so that kids can grasp the use of verbs and other parts of ASL grammar. There are even explanations of how to change a statement into a question just by changing your facial expression. Now, even hearing kids can communicate easily with deaf friends or family members and have secret conversations whenever they want.
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*Starred Review* Gr. 4-6. Heller, a master's level teacher of the deaf who has produced sign-language videos, proves she really knows her stuff in this well-designed, well-thought-out book, which delves into the subject with zest and has a subtitle that's right on the mark. Fully captioned color photos of both girls and boys--complete with directional arrows and, where necessary, helpful explanatory notes (signs for life and room combine to create living room)--make discerning signs, even multipart ones, easy to understand as well as remember. The organization is excellent as well. Signs for the letters and numerals through 20 (then by tens through 100) are presented first, followed by topical chapters that demonstrate signs for familiar concepts, objects, and places. Kids will learn days of the week, foods, holidays, clothing, pets, and more. Thanks to a concluding section that simply and clearly explains linking words, word order, and the importance of facial expression in signing, they will also be able to compose simple sentences and express thoughts. Kids will use this guide on their own, and teachers can use it in class. Even readers older than the target audience will come away greatly enriched and informed. Stephanie Zvirin
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Grade 3-7–Clear color photos and simple text combine to form an excellent introduction to American Sign Language (ASL). The text begins by introducing the alphabet and numbers through sharp, close-up photos of children demonstrating the signs; in some, arrows indicate the direction of the motions. Other chapters introduce the days of the week, senses, feelings, and animals. Many are useful in everyday situations, including the doctor's office, school, and restaurants. The caption for each illustration describes how to form the letter or sign, sometimes offering a suggestion that will help children remember it. For example, the motion for "girl" is explained this way: "Use your thumb to trace your jaw line, or an old-fashioned bonnet string." The brief, final chapters will help children link words and construct sentences. Pages that alternate between white and pastel colors and a variety of fonts provide visual interest. The useful index lists individual words.–Christine A. Moesch, City of Tonawanda Public Library, NY
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