Are you learning sign language? Or about to start learning BSL? Here is a list
of BSL books we recommend to our students. Books are great as a quick
reference guide, particularly if you are in class or if you are preparing for a
BSL assessment. Books can also enhance your knowledge. Using them can
also count towards your personal study time that you need to complete to
achieve accredited BSL qualifications.
We have listed books that range from beginner to expert so there is
something for everybody. If you are a parent of a deaf child, you might like to
look at the resources we list on our page that specifically supports families.
Introductory BSL books
Book 1: BSL for Dummies:
This book is a firm favourite with students. It explains the basics that
students need to know. It also covers deaf culture and linguistic elements of
BSL such as explaining hand shapes. The book includes lots of signs. It has a
friendly, informal style and gives you the information to help you feel
confident when signing. We think it is a great book for beginners.
Book 2: Lets Sign:
This book is another firm favourite for our BSL students. Signs are shown as
drawings with explanations on how to do the signs underneath the drawing.
Cath Smith has produced a whole series of these books. They are great for
beginners who are visual learners and the explanations are easy to
understand. The graphics are colourful so great for kids too.
Book 3: Let’s Sign Pocket Dictionary
A smaller, more concise dictionary with lots of signs. This book is for anyone
who doesn’t want to carry around the larger A4 sized dictionary!
Book 4: Signs Make Sense
This BSL book covers some useful topics. For example, there is a chapter on
‘iconicity’ (the visual nature) of signs. It also explains how handshapes are
linked to meaning. Overall, we feel this is a book worth reading.
Book 5: Sign Language Companion
This book continues on from ‘Signs Make Sense’. It builds on the information
in the first book and has over 400 signs (with explanations). A useful
reference book for BSL learners, particularly those attending accredited BSL
Level 1 or Level 2 courses.
Book 6: Deaf Culture (Our Way)
This book is easy to read and provides a useful insight into Deaf experiences.
It helps learners understand and appreciate Deaf culture.
Intermediate and Advanced BSL books
Some books have far more detail in them than is needed when you are
learning BSL level 1. So, we recommend these books students who are
learning at Level 2 and above:
Book 7: BSL Dictionary
The dictionary by the BDA was one of the first books that provided a
comprehensive collection of signs. It also provides detailed
information about the linguistics of BSL including explanations of mouth
patterns that are made with signs.
Book 8: The Linguistics of British Sign Language
This Linguistics of British Sign Language provides a detailed explanation of
the different elements within BSL. There is an accompanying video with
explanations and exercises for each chapter. The book is a vital resource for
anyone studying at Level 3 and above as it is essential reading for accredited
BSL courses. Many interpreting courses recommend this book as it provides
a solid foundation for understanding BSL.
We also list a number of websites that you can use to help you practise BSL.
We hope our list is useful for your BSL studies.
Did you know we offer free online BSL practise sessions? If you a learner on
an accredited BSL course, you can join one of our free online BSL practise
sessions. See our Facebook page for details or contact our office for further