A baby sign language primer for caregivers and infants alike.
The third entry in author/illustrator Engel’s ABC for Me series uses the alphabet as a vehicle to teach 26 different words in baby sign language and adds an additional four pages of words and signs for good measure. Featured words are practical and useful: “eat,” “more,” and “please,” for example. “Vegetable” is as esoteric as it gets, and while that is clearly a useful word, expecting children to sign wildly for more vegetables may be wishful thinking in many cases. Rhymed verse describes each word and the simple gestures that express it. The text is more utilitarian than poetic, with odd meter and a few awkward rhymes, but the simple images are lively and engaging, and the poetic liberties are, for the most part, easily forgiven. The illustrations throughout feature a cast of ethnically diverse children and parents signing and acting out each concept, while baby sign language “interpreters” in insets at the top of each page demonstrate each sign in a simple diagram. The child who demonstrates the sign for “me” is of indefinite ethnicity and sports gender-neutral clothing and hairstyle.
One might reasonably wonder whether the best time to teach baby sign language is before babies become interested in books, but any book that fosters a child’s development of communication skills seems a worthwhile undertaking. (Board book. 6 mos.-3)