Monday, September 15, 2008

Book Review: My Heart Glow

My Heart Glow: Alice Cogswell, Thomas Gallaudet, and the Birth of American Sign Language by Emily Arnold McCully. (Grades 2-5.)

Here's your Abby Fun Fact of the day: in college, I minored in speech & hearing science. Which means that in addition to classes on audiology and speech disorders, I took American Sign Language for my language credits. As a result, I've always been interested in books about sign language, so when I saw this book on our new book cart I had to pick it up.

My Heart Glow is the story of Alice Cogswell and her teacher, Thomas Gallaudet, a man who saw that even though she was deaf Alice longed to learn and express herself. Gallaudet started to teach Alice to read, but he knew what she really needed was a language. So he set off to Europe to find one for her. In Paris, he met a man named Laurent Clerc, a deaf teacher. Gallaudet convinced Clerc to come back to America with him and help him set up a school for the deaf (which is now the American School for the Deaf).

This is a great basic history of American Sign Language and includes an author's note and list of sources. The illustrations are delightful, too. One particular page struck me. Alice sits in the classroom and the yearning to understand, to communicate, is written plain as day on her face. Gorgeous!

Excerpts from letters that Alice wrote to Gallaudet while he was in Europe are interspersed throughout the latter half of the book. I thought that was a neat addition to the text and leant authenticity to the story. Alice uses a syntax different than English that is briefly explained in the author's note.

Happy Nonfiction Monday! Head over to Picture Book of the Day for the roundup!