Recommended Reading: DEAF UTOPIA by Nyle DiMarco

Deaf Utopia: A Memoir - And a Love Letter to a Way of LifeDeaf Utopia: A Memoir – And a Love Letter to a Way of Life by Nyle DiMarco with Robert Siebert
Summary: In this moving and engrossing memoir, Nyle shares stories, both heartbreaking and humorous, of what it means to navigate a world built for hearing people. From growing up in a rough-and-tumble childhood in Queens with his big and loving Italian-American family to where he is now, Nyle has always been driven to explore beyond the boundaries given him. A college math major and athlete at Gallaudet—the famed university for the Deaf in Washington, DC—Nyle was drawn as a young man to acting, and dove headfirst into the reality show competitions America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars—ultimately winning both competitions. Deaf Utopia is more than a memoir, it is a cultural anthem—a proud and defiant song of Deaf culture and a love letter to American Sign Language, Nyle’s primary language. Through his stories and those of his Deaf brothers, parents, and grandparents, Nyle opens many windows into the Deaf experience.

DiMarco’s memoir is open and honest, at turns hilarious and poignant. The subtitle “A memoir – and a love letter to a way of life” is right on; DiMarco draws back the curtain on what it was like to grow up in a big Deaf family, from the joys of ASL signs zinging around the dinner table to the tragedies of discrimination from the hearing world and the language deprivation experienced by his father. In describing his experiences on America’s Next Top Model and Dancing with the Stars, he offers a clear-eyed understanding of the ways producers shape the narratives in reality TV, while also cogently analyzing the accessibility fails along the way. Through candid anecdotes, he tracks his changing understanding of his own sexuality, finally embracing his queer identity. Throughout the narrative, the book weaves in just enough background information about ASL and Deaf culture and history to help even newcomers to the topic understand how DiMarco’s personal story fits into the bigger picture of the multifaceted Deaf community.

DEAF UTOPIA is out now.

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Little Hands Signing Professional Development on demand

A little boy with olive skin and dark hair and eyes begins to sign PLEASE in American Sign Language. Text appears in white against a blue background and says: Little Hands Signing Professional Development Series Season Pass. 6 webinars presented by Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S. January - June 2022. Includes live webinars and recording access through 8/31/21. StoriesByHand.com/webinars

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Series Season Pass

Add some American Sign Language to your storytime toolbox! Learn how to incorporate ASL into storytime songs, rhymes, and stories in a respectful and effective way.

Your Season Pass registration includes on-demand recording access to all 6 webinars through August 31, 2022!

  • Winter Signs
  • Lovey Dovey Signs
  • Spring Signs
  • Weather Signs
  • Ocean Signs (Summer Reading Special)
  • Summer Signs

Register now for the Little Hands Signing Professional Development Series Season Pass

Or register for upcoming webinars here.

Register now for Little Hands Signing Professional Development: Summer Signs

Illustrations of a sun, watermelon, beach ball, sunglasses, beach umbrella, and flip-flops appear against a green background. Text reads: Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Summer Signs. Thursday, June 2, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern. Presented by Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S. Register at StoriesByHand.com/webinars

Add some American Sign Language to your storytime toolbox! In these interactive sessions, we’ll focus on basic ASL vocabulary for storytimes. Learn how to incorporate ASL into storytime songs, rhymes, and stories in a respectful and effective way. Registration includes 30 days of recording access. Individual: $40 per webinar. Group rates available.

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Summer Signs: Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 2-3 PM Eastern/1-2 PM Central/12-1 PM Mountain/11 AM-12PM Pacific. Register now. 


Register for the 2022 Little Hands Signing Professional Development Series 1 Season Pass and save! You’ll get live webinar access to this webinar PLUS extended recording access for the entire series through August 31, 2022. Season Pass is $200 per person and includes:

  • Winter Signs
  • Lovey Dovey Signs
  • Spring Signs
  • Weather Signs
  • Ocean Signs
  • Summer Signs

Register for the 2022 Little Hands Signing Professional Development Series 1 Season Pass here.

Have you read TRUE BIZ yet? If not, fix that now!

True BizTrue Biz by Sara Nović
Summary: True biz (adj/exclamation; American Sign Language): really, seriously, definitely, real-talk
True biz? The students at the River Valley School for the Deaf just want to hook up, pass their history final, and have doctors, politicians, and their parents stop telling them what to do with their bodies. This revelatory novel plunges readers into the halls of a residential school for the deaf, where they’ll meet Charlie, a rebellious transfer student who’s never met another deaf person before; Austin, the school’s golden boy, whose world is rocked when his baby sister is born hearing; and February, the headmistress, who is fighting to keep her school open and her marriage intact, but might not be able to do both. As a series of crises both personal and political threaten to unravel each of them, Charlie, Austin, and February find their lives inextricable from one another–and changed forever.

This is a brutal, glorious read that invites hearing readers into the perspectives of members of the Deaf community, and gives Deaf readers a mirror of their own beautiful, complex culture that is rarely seen in written literature. The author provides background and context for readers unfamiliar with ASL and Deaf Culture through strategically placed handouts from Charlie’s history class that explain everything from name signs to the impact of Deaf President Now. Every word, every sign illustration, every snippet of dialogue works together to create a verbal picture – even the formatting. Over the years, novelists have used many different methods to show ASL, which has no written form, on the page. Nović’s approach is astonishingly effective. Spoken dialogue contains no quotation marks, with nothing to set it apart from narration; it is simply part of the visual landscape, just as it would be for a Deaf person attempting to speechread. Signed communication, in contrast, is italicized and located in different places on the page to represent who is communicating. This creates a sense of visual distinction and echoes the use of space in American Sign Language. Nović expertly weaves in multiple character points of view to showcase the diversity of the Deaf community, exploring everything from cochlear implants to Black ASL to the state of residential schools to the struggle of CODAs (hearing children of deaf adults) to move between two worlds – all with a nuance, authenticity, and depth rarely seen in mainstream literature. With so many weighty topics to explore, a lesser author would get bogged down. But Nović’s story soars as it navigates the shifting relationships at its heart, always returning to the connections woven in the community.

TRUE BIZ is out now.

View all my reviews

Join me for Storytime this Saturday at the Ivy Bookshop!

A photo of a smiling white woman with glasses appears next to the covers of picture book THE RUNAWAY SHIRT and board books NITA'S FIRST SIGNS and NITA'S DAY and nonfiction book SHE SPOKE. Text appears in white against a photo of purple flowers: Storytime at The Ivy Bookshop with Author Kathy MacMillan. Saturday, May 21 at 2:30 PM. For all ages. The Ivy Bookshop, Back Patio. 5928 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209. Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 2:30 PM at The Ivy Bookshop, 5928 Falls Rd, Baltimore, MD 21209 Join me for storytime on The Ivy’s back patio for the whole family.  We’ll sign, sign, play, and read together as I share The Runaway Shirt, Nita’s First Signs, Nita’s Day, and She Spoke. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided by practicum students from the Community College of Baltimore County Interpreter Preparation Program.

New session of Hands Up!: Live ASL Practice for Library Staff – Beginner starts June 1

Hands Up: Live ASL Practice for Library Staff (Beginners)
Wednesdays, June 1 – July 6, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern/1-2 PM Central/12-1 PM Mountain/11 AM-12 PM Pacific

Learn and practice American Sign Language for library settings in this interactive series. Online sessions via Zoom (6 weeks, 1 hour per week). Includes recording access for all sessions through August 6, 2022. Individual:$240. Group rates available.

Register now! Get 20% off when you enter promo code SUMMER at the top of the ticket form!

 

Recommended Viewing (and program!): “Calvin Can’t Fly: An ASL Storybook”

Calvin Cant Fly: An ASL Storybook” is a new, innovative film presented in American Sign Language by Crom Saunders, animation, enhanced text, music and narrated English. The 25-minute video is based on the book about a little bird who cant fly because he spends all his time reading and dreaming. Though his differences set him apart, his knowledge ultimately saves his flock from disaster.

Director Sarah Michaelson wanted to create something where everyone can share this heartwarming story in the same space no matter their background, ability, or learning style.  The screening event is perfect for Deaf and hearing audiences, students of sign language, and young readers who benefit from experiencing stories in a visceral way.

After a successful premiere last fall, the Calvin team is now focused on bringing more interactive events to libraries, school groups, and organizations around the country. Find out more, see video samples, and learn how to request a screening for your organization at https://calvinaslstorybook.com/ 

See you at the Sussex Children’s Book Festival this Saturday!

I will be one of the authors featured at the Sussex Children’s Book Festival this Saturday, May 14 in Bridgeville, DE. Hope to see you there.

This year’s excitement could not be contained in one location. Activities will be held in Bridgeville at Delaware’s own Bridgeville Public Library, Passwaters Park, and Frozen Farmer! Activities, performances, and adventures will be awaiting attendees at all locations from 10 AM to 2 PM.

Check out the schedule of events here.

 

Register now for ASL with Kids in Storytime or the Classroom eCourse

text appears against an orange flowered background and reads: American Sign Language with Children in Storytime or the Classroom. 6-week ecourse from ALA Editions. Begins May 16, 2022. Register at https://tinyurl.com/ASLinStorytime

American Sign Language with Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Begins Monday, May 16, 2022 and continues for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.) Hosted by ALA eLearning.

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this 6-week eCourse, programming expert and signing storyteller Kathy MacMillan explores the benefits of signing with all children. In addition to learning basic American Sign Language (ASL) vocabulary appropriate for use with children in library and classroom settings, you will also learn techniques to share stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. The course will use readings, multimedia resources, online discussion boards, and customized video assignments to provide you with the tools to share ASL in an effective and respectful way in your programs. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

More information and registration.


Past attendees say:

“One of the most well-organized and rewarding professional development courses I’ve taken.”

“Kathy is an amazing instructor. She made learning online very easy and comfortable. She replied quickly when students had questions and she responded with feedback with videos to help sign better.”

“I am amazed. It couldn’t have gone better. I came away learning many signs I can use and gained some helpful information for my storytimes.”

Register now!

Get Ready for Summer Reading!

Get ready for the 2022 Collaborative Summer Reading Theme, Oceans of Possibilities: Océano de Posibilidades, with these 2 webinars from Stories By Hand!

Text reads: Get ready for Summer Reading with Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinars. Ocean Signs: Thursday, May 5, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern. Summer Signs: Thursday, June 2, 2022, 2-3 PM Eastern. StoriesByHand.com/webinars. Ocean Signs information appears against a background of jellyfish floating in the ocean. Summer Signs information appears against a beach with a sandcastle in the corner.

Add some American Sign Language to your storytime toolbox! In these interactive sessions, we’ll focus on basic ASL vocabulary for storytimes. Learn how to incorporate ASL into storytime songs, rhymes, and stories in a respectful and effective way. Registration includes 30 days of recording access. Individual: $40 per webinar. Group rates available.

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Ocean Signs: Thursday, May 5, 2022 at 2 PM Eastern/1 PM Central/12 PM Mountain/11 AM Pacific. Register now.

Little Hands Signing Professional Development Webinar: Summer Signs: Thursday, June 2, 2022 at 2 PM Eastern/1 PM Central/12 PM Mountain/11 AM Pacific. Register now. 

 


Booking dates still available for Signs Under the Sea, a high-energy, interactive program for your patrons that features ASL vocabulary for oceans and ocean life:

Signs Under the Sea

A photo of a smiling white women with glasses and shoulder length brown hair appears on the left. She is signing FISH in American Sign Language, as cartoon fish swim around her.Dive into splashy stories, songs, and fun activities that explore the world of underwater animals through American Sign Language! Presented by Kathy MacMillan, author of the Little Hands Signing series

This program can be presented as an all-ages program, or adapted to a baby, toddler, preschooler, or school-age audience.

Indoor, outdoor, and online programs available.

 

  • Single program (45 minutes): $400 plus travel expenses.
  • Additional same-day sessions: $300 plus travel expenses.

Availability calendar

Complete booking details

Interested in a different program theme? Check out all Stories By Hand program offerings here.