The Best Sign Language Book Recommendations

October 1, 2010

We found all the best ones!

We have searched for the best sign language books, checked them out, and read their reviews. All of the best sign language books we’ve found are listed below. Fortunately, we found a whole bunch of them.

Some of these sign language books are good for use in the classroom while others are great if you are a self-learner. Some of them are also focused on certain parts of ASL (i.e. vocabulary, numbers, religious signs, etc.) So, I don’t think you’ll have a problem finding the perfect book for you.

Please note that when you choose to purchase through the external links on this website (in many but not all cases) we will receive a referral commission. However, this commission does not influence the information we provide in this site. We always give honest opinions and reviews to share our findings, beliefs, and/or experiences. You can view our full disclosure on this page.

The Best Sign Language Books


The Don’t Just “Sign”… Communicate! Student Guide Series
We highly recommend these sign language books for every ASL student. We assign readings from these books in the online classes because they not only cover all of the essential information about ASL and Deaf Culture you will need for your ASL journey, but the ASL grammar book is the only book for students completely dedicated to ASL grammar. You will be able to learn how to successfully and accurately sign in ASL right from the beginning.


Talking with Your Hands, Listening with Your Eyes: A Complete Photographic Guide to American Sign Language
This book is a wonderful resource. Not only does it have information about Deaf culture, Deaf history, famous Deaf people, hearing loss, and the Deaf community, it illustrates sign language vocabulary like no other book. If you are starting out and want to increase your ASL vocabulary, this is the book for you. It organizes the signs by category and progressively teaches you more and more signs. The pictures are the easiest to understand than any other book we have seen. We highly recommend this book!

The American Sign Language Phrase Book
The American Sign Language Phrase Book is a book that every ASL student should have on hand. We always tell ASL students to carry a phrase book with them so they can learn new phrases in their spare time. We highly recommend this book for every ASL student. And not only that, it’s also available on the Amazon Kindle!

Learn to Sign the Fun Way: Let Your Fingers Do the Talking with Games, Puzzles, and Activities in American Sign Language
This is a great book full of fun games, activities, and puzzles to help teach ASL. This is a self-study book that is mostly geared toward kids, but is great for beginning ASL students. We’d say it’s a good book for ages 14 and under. And it’s available on the Kindle!

Religious Signing: A Comprehensive Guide For All Faiths
If you want to learn religious signs, or plan to interpret church services, this book is wonderful! It’s a great comprehensive guide and is easy to understand. We highly recommend it!

American Sign Language The Easy Way
This book is very good for the self-learner, and is very accurate. If you want to learn basic ASL, this is the book for you. We recommend it!

Have You Ever Seen…? An American Sign Language Handshape DVD/Book
This book illustrates 44 handshapes in fun, bright colored illustrations with rhymes and cultural vignettes. This book truly shows what ASL and Deaf culture is all about. It is fun and great for all ages. This is a perfect introduction to ASL, and we highly recommend it.

Signing Illustrated: The Complete Learning Guide
This book is also very popular for learning ASL. The 1500 signs are organized by category, not alphabetically. You can also purchase the game called, “Sign It!” because the game uses this book for reference.

American Sign Language Dictionary, Third Edition
This is a huge book and explains more than 5,000 signs and has over 8,000 illustrations. You definitely need to have a dictionary like this if you are learning American Sign Language! When you want to look up an obscure word, it’s most likely in here!

The American Sign Language Handshape Dictionary
This is a great resource in that the dictionary is organized by handshape, not by word. This way, when you see a sign, you are able to look it up to learn what it means. We highly recommend this book for the ASL learner.

From Mime to Sign
This book shows over 1,000 photos that illustrate how gestures, mime, and facial expression can form the basis of learning ASL. We recommend this book if you are just starting out or want to brush up on your knowledge of classifiers.

Random House Webster’s American Sign Language Dictionary
This dictionary is a great resource to have. It not only illustrates vocabulary in ASL (the pictures are good, but not the best), but also idiomatic expressions. Knowing expressions like these is very important when engaging in an actual conversation with a Deaf person. We recommend this dictionary for anyone learning sign language.

Gallaudet Survival Guide to Signing
This book is great if you just want to learn some basic ASL. With only 500 words, it really does just teach you the basics. You can even give it to your friends who are interested in learning a little. We highly recommend this book as a resource for everyone.

Learning American Sign Language: Levels I & II–Beginning & Intermediate (2nd Edition) (Spiral-bound)
This book would be best used in a class with the help of an instructor. We don’t think this book would be very good for learning ASL on your own. The signing in the videos is very fast and not very good for people just beginning to learn ASL. If you know what you’re doing, though, and you want a good challenge, then maybe this book is for you.

Master ASL – Level One (with DVD)
This book covers levels 1 and 2 of ASL (they are still working on the second book), is in color, not just in black and white, and is also more modern. We have heard that it would be a good book to use for teaching a high school ASL class, so it may not be a good book for learning ASL on your own.

The Joy of Signing
This is a rather old book, so it may be outdated, but it is one of the more popular American Sign Language books. Some people still find it to be a great resource. We actually think this book teaches Signed English more than true ASL.

A Basic Course in American Sign Language (Spiral-bound)
This text is rather old, but many classrooms (particularly high school) still use it for instruction. If you want to save some money on more expensive books, you can buy this one. Don’t let the publish date push you too far away.

Signing Naturally: Level 1
Signing Naturally is the most popular ASL curriculum used in the classroom. This is level 1 of 3 and includes a workbook and video. It uses a variety of activities to teach ASL and Deaf culture through immersion. This curriculum is best used with an instructor and we wouldn’t recommend it for self-study.

Signing Naturally: Level 2
Signing Naturally is the most popular ASL curriculum used in the classroom. This is level 2 of 3 and includes a workbook and video. It uses a variety of activities to teach ASL and Deaf culture through immersion. This curriculum is best used with an instructor and we wouldn’t recommend it for self-study.

Signing Naturally: Level 3
Signing Naturally is the most popular ASL curriculum used in the classroom. This is level 3 of 3 and includes a workbook and video. It uses a variety of activities to teach ASL and Deaf culture through immersion. This curriculum is best used with an instructor and we wouldn’t recommend it for self-study.

Numbering in American Sign Language: Number Signs for Everyone
This book really makes numbers in ASL very clear. There are so many different ways to sign different numbers. It all depends on the context, and this is something you definitely need to learn how to decipher if you are learning ASL.



If you have a favorite sign language book that is not mentioned on this page, please share in the comments below!

Comments

  • I have “Signing Naturally Unit 1-6” and “Signing Naturally 7-12,” I’m looking for “Signing Naturally Unit 13- ” do you know where I can get it, or its equivalent, or if it’s under a different title?

    • Hi Nicholas, I don’t believe there are more than 12 units in Signing Naturally 1. You would probably move on to Signing Naturally 2 at this point. 🙂

  • Could you recommend a sign language theasaurus?

Please leave only comments that add to the article or discussion. Any help or support comments should be directed to Start ASL Help & Support. Thank you!