a brown-skinned and and woman communicating with each other in sign language

10 sign language books for beginners

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A few months ago, I created an article for Book Riot with the best books to help kids – from babies to older kids – learn American Sign Language. The beginner sign language books on this list are a great tool for children and educators and can be used by anyone of all ages. Some of them are aimed specifically at teaching baby sign language, and some are geared towards general American Sign Language used by children and adults of all ages.

If you’ve seen this list – which also includes a small account of my own experience learning sign language – you may have wondered which books to turn to when tackling sign language at age adult.

If so, Book Riot – and I – have you covered once again!

In the list below, there are some of the best sign language books for beginners for those who want to learn American Sign Language and may wonder if they are coming a little too late in the language at the moment. adulthood (a little secret: it’s never too late to start).

At the end of this list are some important notes and resources, so be sure to read this article to the end!

The best thing about sign language – besides the amazing fact that you will now be able to communicate with even more people – is that it is also fun and often very intuitive! Let’s go!

Learn American Sign Language by James W. Guido

This is a fantastic book for those who want to take learning ASL seriously and for the long term.

It’s a compilation of over 800 signs, including signs for things we do daily at home or at work, and it also teaches how to modify signs and create whole sentences.

cover of American Sign Language For Beginners by Rochelle Barlow

American Sign Language for Beginners by Rochelle Barlow

This book is a great starting point if you want to try ASL.

It’s described as a 30-day beginner’s guide to the language, with essential vocabulary (including the alphabet and numbers) and grammar, making it perfect for building a good foundation to start learning ASL .

Barlow has created several books on ASL (there’s another one by her on this list), and her guides are always excellent.

cover of American Sign Language: Ultimate Beginners Guide by Kevin Embury

American Sign Language: The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide by Kevin Embury

Another beginner’s book with the premise of a 30-day learning curve, this is a very up-to-date edition (released in 2021).

Unlike the guide above, this guide focuses less on teaching the signs, and more on basic ASL-related information, so be aware of what you’re getting if you decide to go for it. It is especially for those who like to dig a little deeper into what they are learning to understand it better.

The book includes information about ASL – like what it is exactly and its history – as well as advice on how to grasp the language right from the start.

book cover of American Sign Language for Beginners by Cristie Publishing

American Sign Language Book for Beginners by Cristie Publishing

I believe that learning the sign language alphabet is one of the most important steps to grasping it, because if you can’t remember a sign, you can always use the sign alphabet to spell the word and communicate.

This is a simple book, focusing primarily on the basics of ASL: the alphabet, colors, numbers, emotions, and basic start signs like Thank you and Hi.

It is good for exercising and memorizing the language, and it is also suitable for young readers.

cover of Rochelle Barlow's American Sign Language Workbook

American Sign Language Workbook by Rochelle Barlow

A great complement to American Sign Language For Beginners mentioned above, this manual does exactly what it says: it helps you get the job done.

With over 30 lessons, you learn the basics of everyday conversation and the vocabulary you need to maintain it, then you’re encouraged to put that knowledge to the test.

American Sign Language Phrase Book cover by Betty Miller, Barbara Bernstein Fant and Lou Fant

Collection of American Sign Language Phrases by Betty Miller, Barbara Bernstein Fant, and Lou Fant

If you want to start communicating right away by learning full sentences rather than just learning singular words, this is the place to start.

It contains over 500 phrases used in common daily conversations and clear instructions, which will get you speaking in sign language quickly.

cover of Learn Sign Language In A Hurry by Irene Duke

Learn Sign Language Fast by Irene Duke

For those who don’t have time to waste learning ASL, this is the perfect book!

It is primarily aimed at helping hearing people make connections to deaf or hard of hearing concepts and includes excellent cheat sheets and easy-to-follow illustrations.

cover of american sign language for dummies

American Sign Language for Dummies

Granted, this might not be the perfect book if you’re serious about learning ASL long term, but it’s a good place to start.

For those who are used to books for dummies and would like a concise and simple way to gain some understanding of the language, this book will prove to be a useful tool.

The book includes online videos that will definitely make the experience much more fun.

cover of Gallaudet's Dictionary of American Sign Language by Clayton Vali

The Gallaudet Dictionary of American Sign Language by Clayton Vali

When learning languages, a dictionary is an essential tool.

This ASL dictionary includes illustrations, synonyms and a DVD presenting each sign, as well as an introduction that helps to learn the basics of the language.

Something you MUST own.

cover of ASL Fingerspelling Word Search Games by Lassal

ASL Fingerspelling Word Search Games Vol.6 by Lassal

One of the most essential things when learning a language is practice.

I found this out the hard way with sign language, as I keep forgetting such basic things as the alphabet when I go a few weeks without practicing.

This book is not a guide, but a pun, which will entertain you, motivate you and, above all, train you.

If you are a fan of puzzles and crosswords, you will love this.

Unfortunately, as I already pointed out in the list of related ASL children’s books in the intro of this article, there aren’t many ASL resources from authors of color yet.

However, Black ASL exists and is comparable to AAVE (African American Vernacular English). You can read more about it here and check out some BASL books here.

If you’re a parent looking for more baby sign language books, you can find more resources here.

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