#254 – What is Sign Language? by Deborah Kent

January 21 to 25, 2013:   “NO NAME CALLING WEEK”

MYTH OF THE WEEK:  “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”


enslowEnslow Publishers, Inc.

Enslow Publishing was established in 1976 by Ridley M. Enslow. a veteran of several New York publishing houses.  Today, his two sons, Mark and Brian, run it.  Located in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, the company publishes high-quality educational nonfiction books for children and young adults, twice a year in January and June.  Together, the two releases publish 200 books for students in the first through twelfth grades, primary through school and public libraries, though they do have a website anyone can order from at enslow.com.

Enslow runs a unique site for students who use their books called My Report Links  (MyReportLinks.com).  Here, students can find addition resources for the subject they are studying.  Enslow pre-evaluates every quality site they link to, making it safe for students to find the needed information online.  In 2005 Enslow Elementary was established to bring high-quality nonfiction books to elementary students. Finally, in 2013 Enslow began offering eBooks.

Enslow does nearly everything needed to run a successful publishing house. They contract writers and have editorial, publishing, marketing, warehousing, and shipping right at the main headquarters in New Jersey.  This helps ensure high standards and quality books.

Enslow sent me a box of books and I wanted to review one of them today.

What is Sign Language?


what is sign language  2012.

What Is Sign Language?

by Deborah Kent

Enslow Publishing, Inc.

4 Stars

Back Cover:  For people who are deaf, learning language is different.  Many learn sign language to let people know what they are thinking or feeling.  The motion with their hands, faces, and bodies to communicate.  Learn the history of sign language, how it is used today, and how it is the first language for a special fourth-grade girl.

First Sentence: When most children start kindergarten, they already understand about three thousand words.


Beanca Turner was born deaf.  Because she could not hear the world around her, she did not learn to speak.  She would make up hand gestures for some words like EAT and HOUSE.  Those types of signs are called “home signs.” Even with Beanca’s gestures, she still could not ask a question or tell a story.  If she was sad, she could not explain why or what was wrong. In school things changed for Beanca.  Every student was deaf and the teacher used American Sign Language or ASL.

As Beanca learned this new language, she could ask questions, talk to other students and her teacher, and tell others how she felt, what she thought, and a could tell a story she made up.  Beanca could communicate with everyone in her class.  All of Beanca’s family also learned ASL in order to communicate with Beanca.  Now, Beanca is learning how to write and read English.  She is also writing her own stories.  All of this began with ASL.

What is Sign Language?  goes on to teach a few basic signs with both pictures and words.  Many signs are simple and make sense for that thing.  For example, to say cat make a circle with your thumb and forefinger, place both hands on the sides of your cheek, and then pull your hands away from your face as if pulling on a cat’s whiskers.  Talking on the phone is easier.  Simply curl in every finger except your pinky and then place the thumb near your ear and the little finger by your mouth as if talking on the phone.


The history of sign language and a few prominent people are explored.  Gallaudet University is one place where ASL is the language of choice on campus and in every class.  Edward Miner Gallaudet opened the school in 1984.  Since then, many other schools opened around the US for younger students who typically live at the school.  This is a fascinating book for younger kids, especially those who have never heard of ASL.  I remember using it in my work and being grateful I had learned many of the signs and the alphabet in an earlier job.  What is Sign Language? contains the alphabet and a few words.

The book is an easy read that informs the student in a lively manner, which should not bore many.  Adding a true story, which runs throughout the book, helps the student understand how ASL can be applied in the real world   This is a short read, with only  48 pages, including the index, making What is Sign Language?  a good introduction to sign language.


What Is Sign Language?

by Deborah Kent    bibliography

Enslow Publishing, Inc.   website

Released in 2012

ISBN:  978-0-7660-3771-7

48 pages

Grades: 3 – 4

Copyright © 2012  by Enslow Elementary, used with permission

Text: copyright © 2012 by Deborah Kent

book donated to library courtesy of author & publisher


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11 thoughts on “#254 – What is Sign Language? by Deborah Kent

  1. You got sent a BOX of books? You must know people in high places! lol I taught myself some ASL when I started University because, well, I don’t know why – I just wanted to learn. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if this was part of the curriculum in every school? Just to learn the alphabet and a few common things, if nothing else? Can’t wait to see what you pull out of your big box of books next! lol

    Thanks for linking this post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop! 🙂


    • There is magic in them boxes and it took a lot of work to get that far. 😀 I try to make it extremely easy for publishers and try to go out of my way to do my best, not that I don’t all the time, because I do. Self-publishing is making waves in publishing right now, but the traditional companies are very much needed. Getting their attention has always been my goal.

      I used sign language at my first grown-up job. Knew the alphabet and most signs. Today, I can sign STOP, NOW, COME HERE, and NO! Now if I could only get the pets to understand. The alphabet I remember the letter P. I wish I’d needed it after graduation and the career job. I might not have forgotten. Teaching ASL as a language, like French, or Italian in high schools is a good idea.


  2. This looks great! A lot of the kids I visit use sign language. It’s not just for kids who can’t hear. Some kids can’t talk for other reasons. Sign language makes it possible for them to communicate. And I know a lot of sign language myself! I’ll have to look for this book! Thanks!


  3. Pingback: Your Brain on ASL « deafinprison

  4. I think this kind of book is so necessary to impart to children. One thing that I want my little girl to know from very young is an understanding and compassion for other kids that have differing abilities and disabilities. As a paediatric nurse, I have watched kids struggle with teasing due to a disability or disfigurement and I am determined that my child will be made aware using this kind of book as a resource. Thank you Sue for bringing it to our attention and happy hopping. Cheers Julie


  5. ASL has always fascinated me. Every year, I taught the kids in my class to sign the Pledge of Allegiance. (I was invited to a few Girl Scout meetings to do the same.) And our music teacher always included a couple of songs in each concert that the children could sign as they sang. So much fun.


    • I have been interested in ASL since I was a teen. My first real job (adult job) was at a home for MRDD. I loved that job and learning ASL was part of the deal for many of the staff. I didn’t have any deaf kids, but they wanted to learn so I had to learn. It was fun and at times very useful. I have never seen the Pledge of Allegiance in sign language. If you make a video I will upload here.


    • Not really “funny” my dear friend. It is in the book. I remember mostly, from my days working in MRDD, is “stop,” “now,” “please,” and “thank you.” Not necessarily in that order.


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