Using American Sign Language in Storytime

If you are like us, you may have noticed a growing interest from families in using sign language, especially when it comes to storytime. What’s it all about? And how can you learn more? Sit back and enjoy some resources courtesy of our amazing Twitter pals and then we’ll share some of our videos which incorporate American Sign Language.

First up, check out Renee Grassi’s fantastic post on the ALSC Blog all about American Sign Language (ASL) in Your Library. Renee explains that ASL is “a completely separate and distinct language from English” and details ways in which libraries can better serve patrons for whom American Sign Language is a first language or those who are looking to try it as a second or third language. She includes a great list of resources from American Sign Language experts as well as youth services librarians who have incorporated ASL into their programs.

Kathy MacMillan is someone else who has written (and presented!) extensively about American Sign Language and because she also wears a Librarian Hat, how it can be used in library programming. Her presentation Liven Up Baby and Toddler Storytimes with Sign Language can be viewed on Slideshare from the comfort of your couch, and provides background on American Sign Language, Deaf Culture as well as practical tips on using ASL in a range of programs.

Finally, the great Tess Prendergast of Inclusive Early Literacy pointed us to PrAACtical AAC’s post on 10 Interesting Resources for Learning to Sign. It is a tech-licious list of apps and sites to help young and old learn to sign.

Whew! Now that you’ve broken a mental sweat, how about some videos? Here are a couple of our favourites, some are old and some are quite recent. For more ideas please be sure to check out our full Sign Language Songs and Rhymes playlist.

Diaper Changing Song with Sign Language

Hello and Goodbye Song Using Sign Language

I Had a Little Turtle (Tiny Tim)

I’ve Got Peace Like a River

Everyone Can March, March, March

Come Under My Umbrella

8 thoughts on “Using American Sign Language in Storytime

  1. This is such an excellent summary of resources! Thank you so much. I’ve shared it out to my FB accounts (and my “just started” Twitter feed) and I will link to it from my blog, with your permission. I’ve recently started posting some story time excerpts on my YouTube channel. Here is the latest:

    I will add your playlist to my channel (once I can figure out how to do that . . . it’s on “my list!”).

    I just (this week!) started trying to figure out Twitter (one of my goals for the New Year . . .). I *think* I tweeted this to you, but in case not, I wanted to be sure I shared my publisher’s free online resources to help plan sign language events at your library (, and I wanted to share a link to a feature on my blog called “Start to Finish Story Time” where I provide several lesson plans for sign language story times (with more to come over time!):
    Please let me know if I can ever be a resource. I love connecting with other folks who are passionate about early literacy and sign language!

    1. Dawn, thanks so much for your message. We definitely did see you on Twitter today- looks like you’re getting the hang of it! On Youtube you can subscribe to our channel to keep track of our playlists and new videos, or add individual videos to playlists which you’ve created. Looks like you’ve got some great stuff on Youtube too! Thanks for sharing ABDO’s resources as well as your amazing lesson plans- we’re hoping most people caught them on Twitter today, and if not they can find them on this post. It is great to connect with you, thanks again for sharing your work and we look forward to chatting more in the future!

  2. Hi ladies! I teach pre-K in NJ. I love all your stories and use you guys as a resource a lot. You’re fabulous and have such great stories. Some of my favorites are The Hungry Bear (how the chipmunk got his strips) and The Mouse Family Takes A Walk. I am no longer able to find The Mouse Family Takes A Walk on YouTube. Did you remove it? I always review it before I tell it and need to refresh my memory.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Janice, yes I removed most of the videos from our channel that involved sign language. I had been contemplating it for awhile, but made the decision when Covid hit and our channel saw a resurgence of views. My main reason is that we do not speak ASL and are not part of the deaf community. I have received some feedback that the signs or order of signs we use is incorrect. I didn’t want to give out incorrect information in our videos, and I realized these videos would be better created by a member of the deaf community. I can keep that video unlisted and email you a link so that you can view it again, but it won’t be made public. I hope you understand 🙂

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