Purchase Signed Books and Support a Great Cause!

Signed books make excellent holiday gifts! Order yours now from the Deaf Camps, Inc.’s Online Bookstore. All proceeds go directly to Deaf Camps, Inc.’s scholarship program. Deaf Camps, Inc. is a volunteer-run non-profit organization dedicated to providing fun, safe, communication-rich camps that promote the physical, spiritual, and social development of Deaf/hard of hearing children and children learning American Sign Language.

To have a book personalized, simply note name(s) in the comments section on the order form. Order now!

DCI Bookstore

Register now for upcoming eCourses!

Registration is now open for upcoming sessions of my popular eCourses through the American Library Association!

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff eCourse begins January 13, 2020.

Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse begins March 2, 2020.

Purchase both courses as a bundle and save! See below for more information about each course.

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, May 20, 2019 (6 weeks of lessons; Participants will have a total of 12 weeks to complete course materials)
Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.
Cost: $250.00 (discounts available for American Library Association members and bulk registrations)


Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)
Click here to register.

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.

Past attendees say:

“This course has been invaluable to me. I have spent countless hours reviewing all of the video, re-reading the lessons, and just generally trying to absorb as much knowledge as I could. The instructor was a gem in the way that she provided comprehensive answers to questions, feedback, tips and resources.”

“While I had taken ASL many years ago, this class has expanded my vocabulary and boosted my confidence in my abilities. I think it helped that this class specifically addressed situations I might encounter here at work.”

“This has been a great introduction to both the language and the culture!”

“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.”

“Ms. MacMillan provided timely feedback to all responses, questions, and comments during the entire course. Her answers show the mastery of content knowledge and her response time shows how much she cares about her students and the topic she is teaching. This was one of the best online courses I have taken, and I will highly recommend this course to others.”

Register now for Basic ASL for Library Staff

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle


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

Instructor: Kathy MacMillan, NIC, M.L.S.

Asynchronous eCourse beginning Monday, March 2, 2020 and continuing for 6 weeks (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials.)

$250.00 (discounts available for ALA members and bulk registrations)

Click here to register.

Estimated Hours of Learning: 36 (Certificate of Completion available upon request)

American Sign Language is most commonly used in storytimes for babies, but the applications can go much further. In this new 6-week eCourse, Sign Language expert 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 to teach stories, songs, and other activities that incorporate ASL. MacMillan provides you with a linguistic and cultural context to help make your programming more accessible.

After participating in this eCourse, you will:

  • Have a working knowledge of approximately 180 signs (introduced through video)
  • Create two storytime/classroom activities using the featured vocabulary that you can implement in your storytimes
  • Understand relevant aspects of child development and early literacy
  • Understand signing in a linguistic and cultural context

Feedback from past participants:

“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.”

“The instructor was phenomenal, and I am already incorporating course work into everyday interactions in the library. Everything in the course is relevant and beneficial.”

Register now for Sign Language for Children in Storytime or in the Classroom: A Practical Guide eCourse

Register now for American Sign Language for Librarians eCourse bundle

In the Community: Meet Signing Santa at the DCI Christmas Party!

Deaf Camps, Inc Annual Christmas Party

Saturday, Dec 14 from 2-4pm

Christ United Methodist Church of the Deaf
1040 S Beechfield Ave
Baltimore, MD 21229

Admission includes:

  • Signing Santa
  • Snacks
  • Crafts
  • One free picture with Santa per child.  (Additional pictures available for a small fee.)
  • ASL Storytelling

All ages and signing levels welcome!
Admission: $5
Caregivers free with child’s admission

All proceeds benefit Deaf Camps, Inc’s scholarship fund.

Click here for more information.

Take the Read Local Challenge!

I’m thrilled to be participating in the 2019/2020 Read Local Challenge, sponsored by the MD/DE/WV Region of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators!

Discover books by people who live in your own state – maybe even your own neighborhood! Our Read Local Challenge features traditionally-published authors and illustrators from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.

How to Join the Read Local Challenge:

Choose a challenge level, and start reading!

Read one book or two … or five … or every book in your selected challenge level (picture book, middle grade, or young adult). You can even take the ultimate challenge and read all 38 books!

Join in the state-by-state Reading Race!

Tell us which books you have read, individually or with a team. Our interactive map will update within 5-10 minutes to tell us which state has the most frequent readers. (If your whole team / family / class reads a book together, you get to count it once for each member of your team!) Then nominate a school or library near you to win a selection of signed books from us. One school / library in the winning state will win the grand prize!

Fill your Read Local Challenge Passport and redeem it for an amazing reward!

Pick up a Read Local Challenge Passport bookmark from your participating school, library, or bookstore. Fill the required number of passport spaces by reading books from our Read Local Challenge list, attending events to meet local authors and illustrators, visiting your library, and more.

Meet a local author or illustrator at one of our events!

Check out the Read Local Challenge events calendar to find us at our already-scheduled events. Or host one of our Read Local Parties and invite one of our authors or illustrators for a FREE, informal Q&A event either in-person or via Skype call.

Make it a competition!

Gather a group of friends together, or challenge your class (or even your whole school)! Teachers, Librarians, & Group Leaders: Request your FREE Read Local Challenge Starter Kit. You will receive Read Local Challenge posters, passport bookmarks, stickers, and small prizes such as postcards, buttons, etc. While supplies last, you will receive a FREE signed copy of a Read Local Challenge book. Who will win the grand prize in your challenge? It’s your challenge! You get to decide the rules!






Featured Program for Summer Reading 2020: Once Upon a Sign

The Collaborative Summer Reading Theme for 2020 is: Imagine Your Story, featuring fairy tales, mythology, and fantasy

Stories by Hand has you covered with a hands-on, interactive program for all ages that features fairy tale signs, songs, and more:

Once Upon a Sign

Come away to a land of kings and dragons, queens and castles, and learn signs through stories and songs of magic. Learn about Deaf Culture as we visit the land of Eyeth, where we use our hands and eyes to communicate. Bring the whole family – and your fairy godmother too! – for the hands-on fun with Kathy MacMillan, author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together.


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

Cost: $350 per program plus mileage; discounts available for multiple bookings.  Click here for complete rates and booking information.

Ask about a FREE same-day Meet the Author program for Kathy’s children’s nonfiction book, She Spoke: 14 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World (Familius Press) and/or her young adult fantasy novels, Sword and Verse and Dagger and Coin (HarperTeen)!




Upcoming Programs

The Great ASL Mystery

  • Cascades Library (Potomac Falls, VA): Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 4 PMphoto photo of Kathy MacMillan in an overcoat and fedora, holding a magnifying glass
  • Rust Library (Leesburg, VA): Tuesday, October 29, 2019 at 4 PM
  • Purcellville Library (Purcellville, VA): Saturday, November 9 at 3 PM
  • Gum Spring Library (Stone Ridge, VA): Wednesday, November 13 at 4 PM
  • Ashburn Library (Ashburn, VA): Tuesday, November 26 at 4 PM

Where did American Sign Language come from? Flex your fingers and join in the hunt for clues as sign language detective Kathy MacMillan leads silly stories, songs, and more. Kathy is the author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together. More info at https://library.loudoun.gov


The SIGN-a-Long Sing-a-long

  • George Mason Regional Library (Annandale, VA): Saturday, November 2 at 10:30 AMPhoto of Kathy MacMillan with musical notes coming out of ehr hands

Teach your fingers how to sing as we explore American Sign Language through music and stories! Bring the whole family for the hands-on fun as signing (and singing) storyteller Kathy MacMillan, author of Nita’s First Signs and Little Hands and Big Hands: Children and Adults Signing Together teaches you to sign some of your favorite songs. For more information, see https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library



Save the Dates! Upcoming eCourse Sessions

I’m pleased to announce that the following eCourses are on the schedule for upcoming months! For more details about eCourse content, click here. 

Basic American Sign Language for Library Staff

Asynchronous eCourse featuring 6 weeks of lessons (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials)

Winter 2020 Session Begins January 13, 2020 – registration coming soon


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

Asynchronous eCourse featuring 6 weeks of lessons (Participants will have 12 weeks to complete course materials)

Spring 2020 Session Begins March 2, 2020 – registration coming soon


Want to be notified when registration opens? Click on the “Follow by email” link in the right hand menu to receive Stories By Hand updates right in your inbox!

In the Community: ASL Classes for Children and Adults 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.


September 17 – November 20

EVENING CLASSES (Tuesdays 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
ASL 1, ASL 2, ASL 3, ASL 4, Children’s ASL

ASL 1 | Tuesdays 10:00 a.m. – Noon
ASL 2 | Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. – Noon

Adult ASL classes (10 weeks) are $150.
Course materials (book with DVD) are available and cost $85 (this is an optional workbook that includes two DVDs that give you additional practice at home between classes.
Children’s ASL classes are $100, no materials required. Parents may accompany a registered child during class for an additional $50.

For more information or to register, click here.

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.

A Special Song and Giveaway!: Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?

Today I’m featuring a guest post from Dawn Babb Prochovnic, author of the excellent Story Time with Signs and Rhymes series (more about that here), about her upcoming releases and some exciting ways to use them in storytime!

Take it away, Dawn!

Hello Readers and Signers!

Kathy was kind enough to invite me to write a guest post on her blog to celebrate the upcoming release of my two latest picture books: Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? and Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? These new books are geared for young readers ages 3-8, but they will appeal to potty humorists of all ages.

Although these new books don’t incorporate sign language like my Story Time with Signs & Rhymes series, in my experience, most books can be enriched with sign language with just a little bit of advanced planning. For example, I recently developed a detailed sign language story time lesson plan for folks who are interested in some comic relief while toilet training. You can find that lesson plan here.

That said, these new books are more aptly categorized as potty-humor books, vs. potty-training books. Given that I’ve taught Sing and Sign workshops for the past twenty years, music and sign language are infused in just about everything I do. Over the past couple of months, I had the unique opportunity to work with two different musicians to create a children’s song for each of my new books. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.

For the Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? song, I worked with singer, songwriter and performing musician, Marshall Mitchell.

You can listen to our song here.

Kids of all ages love to sing and sign AND they love to laugh. Singing and signing along with the Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? song creates a perfect opportunity to incorporate all three of these fun activities.

I’ve included the song lyrics for Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? below, noting in bold some of the words you might consider signing along with. TIP: Don’t feel pressured to sign more words than you are comfortable with. It’s perfectly okay to start by signing only one or two key words, (for example, WHERE or POTTY) that repeat throughout the song. As your American Sign Language vocabulary (and your confidence) develops and grows, you can add more signs each time you sing. Rest assured, kids are likely to ask you to repeat the song again and again!

Here are the lyrics:

Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?

Lyrics by Marshall Mitchell and Dawn Prochovnic; Music written and performed by Marshall Mitchell

When she’s exploring nature…out west.

And her belly starts to feel somewhat distressed.

Out in the canyon or the brush…when she feels the need to rush.

Where does a cowgirl go potty?

When she’s out there on the wide and open range.

And her tummy starts to feel a little strange.

Because waiting is the worst…she thinks she just may burst.

Where does a cowgirl go potty?

Now she can’t go just anywhere…’Cause other folks go potty there.

She’ll find a place and then…it’s just beyond the next bend.

She knew it when she saw…then gave a big, “Yee-Haw!”

This is where a cowgirl goes potty.

Now, this is where a cowgirl goes potty.

Here are links to some reputable video-based resources for the bolded American Sign Language vocabulary , along with some brief reminder notes to help jog your memory as you are learning the signs:

  • BURST: Hands make exploding motion
  • COWBOY/COWGIRL: Think of a gunslinger
  • CAN’T (CANNOT): Pointer finger scolds/slaps other pointer finger
  • DISTRESSED: Think of nervous jazz hands
  • EXPLORE: Palm-down “V” handshapes looks/explores
  • FEEL: Middle finger brushes chest
  • FIND: Open hand becomes “F” Handshape
  • KNOW: Hand taps forehead then moves downward
  • NEXT: One hand passes over the other
  • OTHER: Ten handshape points “other” direction
  • POTTY/TOILET: The “T” handshape wiggles
  • STRANGE: “C” handshape droops near mouth
  • THIS: Pointer finger points to palm of other hand
  • WAIT: Palms up, fingers wiggle
  • WHERE: Pointer finger looks/searches
  • WIDE: Hands expand/go wide
  • YEE-HAW (APPLAUSE): Jazz hands raise and celebrate

As I mentioned above, I worked with singer, songwriter and performing musician, Marshall Mitchell for the Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty? song. Marshall Mitchell is a frequent performer at schools and libraries around the country. He recently performed dozens of fun, educational shows for a variety of library summer reading programs. You can see snippets of his work here.

The story of how I met and developed a friendship with Marshall is here.

If you’re interested in bringing Marshall to your learning community, you can contact his booking agent here.

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, Kathy! I hope your readers have as much fun singing and signing along with this silly song as I had working on the lyrics and collaborating with Marshall Mitchell.

For those who can’t get enough of the song, keep an eye on my social media accounts about the release of the book trailer for Where Does A Cowgirl Go Potty? It’s in production now, and will be available to view, soon! Also, I’ll soon be making announcements about the song and book trailer for Where Does a Pirate Go Potty? ARRR!

Want an Advance Release copy of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?

Comment below, and/or share this post on social media, and tag @KathysQuill (FB and Twitter) and @DawnProchovnicAuthor (FB) / @DawnProchovnic (Twitter) for chances to win. I have two advanced copies along with classroom sets of bookmarks to share. I’ll give them away sometime next week!

About the Author:

Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of Where Does a Cowgirl Go Potty?; Where Does a Pirate Go Potty?; First Day Jitters, featured in the award-winning book, Oregon Reads Aloud; and 16 books in the Story Time with Signs & Rhymes Series, including one title that was selected as an Oregon Book Awards finalist. Dawn is a vocal advocate for school and public libraries and was honored as a 2015 Oregon Library Supporter of the Year by the Oregon Library Association. She is a frequent presenter at schools, libraries and educational conferences, and the founder of SmallTalk Learning, which provides American Sign Language and early literacy education. Dawn loves to travel and has visited thousands of potties across the Pacific Northwest and around the world. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, two kids, two cats, and a feisty dog. Learn more at http://www.dawnprochovnic.com or find her on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.