Betsy Diamant-Cohen reviews Little Hands & Big Hands

Betsy Diamant-Cohen, creator of Mother Goose on the Loose, recipient of the 2013 ASCLA Leadership and Professional Achievement Award, and author of many terrific resource books for librarians and early childhood educators, recently shared her review of Little Hands & Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together:

Little Hands and Big Hands cover“This is an extraordinary book that has just been published by Huron Street Press, administered through ALA Editions. Author and ASL educator, Kathy MacMillan, has brilliantly combined the world of ASL with early literacy activities and presented them in a format that is easy for librarians to use. Written in understandable language, this book explains why ASL should be used over made-up signs, gives verbal and pictorial demonstrations of rhymes and letters, and describes why signing is beneficial for all children and not just those who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

Simple songs (many coined by MacMillan) accompanied by photographs of her son signing, describe children’s everyday activities with a sense of humor, such as “The Stinky Diaper Song.” Creative activities that foster parent/child bonding through ASL include “ASL Kisses” and inventive “Elephant Kisses.” An appendix at the end contains craft templates although many activities are replicable at home and can be created with everyday materials.

The words to be signed in each rhyme or activity are written in ALL CAPS. A photo of either MacMillan or her son visually explains how to create the sign. The black and white photos are not cluttered, they’re pleasant to look at, and direction markings have been added when needed. Though some ASL resources are difficult to interpret, this one includes self-explanatory photographs that are easy to mimic.

MacMillan’s descriptions of everyday life with baby are sometimes supplemented with vignettes about her own son.  It is clear that MacMillan knows what she is talking about! ASL solutions are available for the child who takes a long time getting dressed, who doesn’t want to go to sleep, and who is not thrilled about taking a bath. Explanations and research support is seamlessly woven into each activity; their wording can be directly used as developmental tips in any library program with parents.

I am always looking for new rhymes and activities to add to my Mother Goose on the Loose program, and this book has provided me with many!  I highly recommend this resource to anyone working with children from birth to age five.”

 

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