I just came across this book in a bookstore yesterday. Even though it’s been in print since 2010, I hadn’t heard of Cathal Can Sign before. Written by Brenán Mooney, it is a beautifully produced book with 60 glossy pages filled with colourful illustrations. The primary purpose of the book is to teach children Irish Sign Language (ISL). However, what is unique about this book it that it combines the teaching of ISL with both English and Gaeilge. The characters of “Cathal” and his family are used throughout the book both as decorative illustration and as a means to engage pupils to learn ISL. The book is divided into a number of chapters to teach ISL: alphabet, family, colours, numbers, weather, days of the week, face and words. Brenán’s son, Daniel, is photographed throughout the book to demonstrate words and letters using sign language. This is useful as it will appeal to pupils to see another child of their own age using the sign language. Each of the pages that teach a word contain four elements: an illustration of Cathal or his family, a photograph demonstrating the sign, the word in both English and Gaeilge. The type font used is very child-friendly and easily read by young children. It is both clear and colourful.
The book has been further developed with the publication of the British Sign Language equivalent called “Charlie Can Sign”. A Christmas Card and Birthday Cards for 1-8 year olds are also available. All of the cards feature the same elements as the book – the character of Cathal and photographs of the signs. I bought the book locally for €9.95 and it can also be purchased on the Cathal Can Sign website for €8.95 + €1.95 P&P. This would make a great classroom resource for the teacher both to teach pupils some letters/words in sign language and to make them aware of the method of communication for children with hearing difficulties. Check out this video of Brenán explaining the background to the book on RTÉ’s Nationwide programme: