Teacher/Librarian Guide for NITA’S FIRST SIGNS now available!

I’m so excited to share with you this printable guide to using Nita’s First Signs in the classroom or storytime! Check it out for tips and tricks for sharing signs during the story, and following up with other fun ASL activities.  Click here or on the picture below to download and print your own copy.

Check out the Nita’s First Signs homepage for a video demonstration of the signs in the story and even more links to ASL storytime and classroom activities to share!

In the Community: ASL Classes for Adults & Children at the Hearing and Speech Agency

Learn American Sign Language from a Deaf instructor at the Hearing and Speech Agency, a highly-respected Baltimore non-profit.



EVENING CLASSES (Tuesdays 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
ASL 1 | ASL 2 | ASL 3 | Children’s ASL

ASL 1 | TUESDAYS | 10:00 a.m. – Noon
ASL 2 | WEDNESDAYS | 10:00 a.m. – Noon

For more information, click here.

Note: This is not a Stories By Hand program. “In the Community” items are shared on this site in the interest of getting the word out about great ASL programs in the area.

Hands Up for Back to School!

If you’re looking for resources to share American Sign Language with your students or storytime attendees, check out the Little Hands Signing Storytime & Craft Ideas board on Pinterest! It’s where I pin my favorite ideas from around the internet for sharing ASL with kids, and gather links to my own videos showcasing signing rhymes and songs.  Check it out!

New Session of Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse Open for Registration!

Basic ASL for Library StaffInstructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning November 5, 2018 and continuing for 6 weeks of lessons (no new lessons the week of Thanksgiving, and participants will have a total of 13 weeks to complete course materials)

$195.00 (Discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 30 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language (ASL) is an invaluable skill for library professionals. A basic grasp of ASL enhances your ability to serve deaf library users and opens up a new world of possibilities for storytime programs. It’s also a marketable professional skill that can translate to public service jobs beyond the library world.

Ideal for those without previous experience, this eCourse taught by librarian and ASL interpreter Kathy MacMillan will use readings, multimedia resources, and online discussion boards to introduce basic ASL vocabulary and grammar appropriate for use in a library setting. MacMillan will place ASL within a linguistic and cultural context, aiding participants in improving library services.

Comments from previous students of this course:

“Thank you for teaching me much more than I expected. It’s been a wonderful experience that I will certainly share with everyone who will listen!”

“This course has been invaluable to me…I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in the course and truly appreciate someone’s genius in offering it.  The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“I absolutely loved the class and would HIGHLY recommend it to ANYONE — librarian or not!”

“This class was interesting, informative and entertaining. It opened my eyes to a variety of ideas and concepts that can only make me a better librarian as well as a better person. I thought things were well organized and presented in an ordered and logical fashion, each lesson building on the one before.”

Register now!

Read books, win prizes in the #ReadLocalSummerChallenge

Nita’s First Signs is one of the books in the Read Local Challenge, which features traditionally published authors and illustrators living in Maryland, Delaware, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. (My young adult fantasy novel, Sword and Verse, is also one of the challenge books.) Now we’ve got a great way to extend the fun: the Read Local Summer Challenge!

Read any of our 2017-18 or 2018-19 Read Local Challenge books this summer and enter to win a prize pack of signed books and special Read Local swag! – Each book that you read & share gives you another opportunity to win. If you read all 90 books and share each one on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, that gives you 270 entries!!

1. Read any of the books from our 2017-18 MD/DE/VA/DC Read Local Challenge or get a head start on reading our upcoming 2018-19 Read Local Challenge books.

2. Tell us what you are reading! Each time you finish a book, share it on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadLocalSummerChallenge (and be sure to tag us: @SCBWI_MD_DE_WV on Twitter, or @Read.Local.MD.DE.VA.DC on Facebook and Instagram). It’s super easy to enter: after reading, simply click on the book cover at the Read Local Summer Challenge site to access a pre-written tweet!

3. Each separate tweet or post gives you another entry, so share your reading journey widely, across all of your social media accounts! All entries must be received by 11:59pm on September 21, 2018. Anyone with a US or APO shipping address is eligible to enter.

4. A winner will be chosen in a random drawing from entries received across all platforms on or around September 25, 2018.

Learn more at https://mddewv.scbwi.org/read-local-2018-summer-challenge/ 

ASL Poetry and a #Giveaway of NITA’S FIRST SIGNS!

I’m so excited to share a guest post at Laura Shovan’s Poetry Friday blog post! Laura is a poet and the author of Takedown and The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, and she matches books with great poems when she posts about them on her blog. (Check out the post she did about my young adult novel, Sword and Verse, here.)

For Nita’s First Signs, I was thrilled to introduce readers to a classic of American Sign Language poetry: “Dandelion” by Clayton S. Valli. ASL poetry is composed in ASL and created to be understood in a visual medium, with meter, alliteration, and rhyme expressed in an entirely visual way.  Learn more about the poem and enter to win a signed copy of Nita’s First Signs at Laura’s blog.


My co-author for the Storytime Magic series, Christine Kirker, and I each have new solo books out, so we’ve teamed up for a giveaway! Read about both books below, and enter a giveaway for a prize pack featuring signed copies of both books here. Giveaway ends July 27, 2018.

Nita’s First Signs

Available now from Familius Press!

  • Text by Kathy MacMillan
  • Illustrations by Sara Brezzi
  • ASL/Deaf Culture Advisor: Dr. Barbara Kannapell

American Sign Language makes it easy to communicate with your child, and Nita makes it fun! Nita’s First Signs teaches ten essential signs for every parent and child to know, including eat, more, hungry, milk, all done, ball, play, love, please, and thank you. A simple story about Nita and her parents teaches each sign in context, and repetition throughout each story makes them easy to practice. Even better, each page slides open to reveal accurate instructions on how to make each sign, plus tabs on the side of each page make it simple to locate every sign for later reference. Marlee Matlin, award-winning Deaf actress, author, and activist, says: “Nita’s First Signs demonstrates the value and fun of learning sign language for ALL infants, toddlers children AND adults, regardless of whether they are Deaf or hearing or hard of hearing.”

Order now at amazon.com | barnesandnoble.com | indiebound.org


25 Projects for Art Explorers

by Christine Kirker 

Available now from ALA Editions!

With schools emphasizing STEM activities for children to meet curriculum goals for standardized testing, nurturing children’s artistic creativity is often given short shrift. Kirker’s fun resource aims to restore the balance, offering more than two dozen projects that will spark children’s interest in art and encourage creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. Designed for kids aged 5-10, and flexible enough to use in either storytimes or classroom settings, the projects here

  • introduce children to a variety of art techniques, from gouache and watercolor to collage and papermaking, using a curated selection of quality picture books;
  • provide detailed directions for guiding children to experiment with these techniques to create their own projects; and
  • include materials lists adaptable for any budget, capsule biographies of the picture books’ illustrators, programming tips, and links to additional resources.

Kirker’s inventive projects will help library staff and educators reinforce learning, encourage experimentation, and build an appreciation for art and the creative process.

Order now from ALA Editions!


Enter a giveaway for a prize pack featuring signed copies of both books!

FREE Signing Storytime Programs in MD Libraries This Summer

I’m looking forward to sharing stories, songs, and signs with kids and families this summer at Maryland libraries! Join me for these FREE programs!

Saturday, July 7, 10 AM at the Eldersburg Library (Eldersburg, MD)Little Hands Signing: Summer Signs (for ages birth to 8 with caregiver)

Sunday, July 8, 2 PM at the Rosedale Library (Rosedale, MD): The SIGN-a-long Sing-a-long (for all ages)

Wednesday, July 11, 1:30 PM at the White Marsh Library (White Marsh, MD): The SIGN-a-long Sing-a-long (for all ages)

Thursday, July 12, 11 AM at the Central Library (Denton, MD): The SIGN-a-long Sing-a-long (for all ages)

Sunday, July 15, 2 PM at the Hereford Library (Hereford, MD): The SIGN-a-long Sing-a-long (for all ages)

Friday, July 20, 3 PM at the Towson Library (Towson, MD): The SIGN-a-long Sing-a-long (for all ages)

Monday, July 30, 10:30 AM at the Hyatttsville Library (Hyattsville, MD)Little Hands Signing: Summer Signs (for ages birth to 8 with caregiver)

Saturday, August 11, 10 AM at the Eldersburg Library (Eldersburg, MD)Little Hands Signing: Transportation Signs (for ages birth to 8 with caregiver)


Signed copies of Nita’s First Signs will be available for $15. I’ll also be offering book bundles featuring Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together, along with an adorable rubber ducky signing I-LOVE-YOU, for just $28. Makes a great baby shower or new baby gift!

Nita's First Signs final cover   Little Hands and Big Hands cover   





NITA’S FIRST SIGNS Launch Event This Sunday at The Ivy Bookshop!

Sunday, July 1, 2018 at 10 AM

The Ivy Bookshop, 6080 Falls Rd, Baltimore, Maryland 21209

To preorder your copies (or order signed copies if you can’t attend the event), call (410) 377-2966

Nita's First Signs final cover


I’m looking forward to celebrating the launch of Nita’s First Signs with stories, songs, crafts, snacks, and more! This event will be appropriate for all ages and accessible in American Sign Language and spoken English.

RSVP here.

In the Community: NAOBI-DC BBQ

The National Alliance of Black Interpreters – DC (NAOBI-DC) will be hosting a family-friendly cookout on July 7th, from 1-5pm in Takoma Piney Branch Park (2 Darwin Avenue, Takoma Park, MD 20910). The charge for attendance is either one side dish, or $10 per family. Contact NAOBIDCBBQ@gmail.com with questions.

Program offerings featured in “In the Community” posts are not affiliated with Stories by Hand and are shared to spread the word about other ASL learning opportunities.