lily learns sign language


It started with a package of blank, hardcover books from the teacher supply shop. Since Brooke loves to draw and had taken to stapling her drawings together into books, I thought that book making might be a fun activity for her upcoming play date with one of the girls from her adaptive dance class. Not only would it keep them busy, I reasoned, but it would give Addy something to bring home with her when she left.

Addy was all for it. She wrote and illustrated a fabulous (and hilarious) tale of a family meeting Katy Perry, and, if memory serves, hiring her as a babysitter after a concert. It was bursting with creativity. After each page’s completion, she came to share it with us. It was everything that I’d hoped it would be. Well, sort of. Brooke showed no interest in making a book or even in Addy’s book. She drew on one page, mailing in the effort at best, and was done.

Or not.

That play date was a couple of months ago. I couldn’t even have told you where the blank books had gone since. But this past weekend, without a word to anyone, Brooke dug them out and went to work. While everyone in the house was busy doing their own things, she made a book.

– from The Naughty Class, By Brooke W … March, 2014

Brooke’s books are now everywhere. From The Naughty Class to Perry the Monkey Learns to Dance. They’re on  the floor in her room, on the table in the den, on the kitchen counter.

They are, from what I can tell, mostly riffs off of other books or the premise of a favorite show. But always with a twist – a Brooke-ism. Reading like an homage to Elmo’s World or Peppa Pig, but beautifully, perfectly Brookified, they are so completely her.

My current favorites are what I call the Adventures of Lily series. We have Lily Learns to Ice Skate and Lily Learns to Dance and Lily Learns Sign Language.

I asked Brooke if it would be okay to share her latest with you here.

She said, “You will.”

And so I will.

The photographs are awful, taken with my phone while hiding in my closet at 5 am so as not to wake Luau. As I’ve said before, if you’re looking for one of those blogs with beautifully edited photos, this ain’t it. I promise not to be insulted if you leave now. (I’m lying. It would be pretty hurtful if you left just because I don’t have time to make my pictures pretty, but hey, do what you have to do.)

Here goes:



{image is the front cover of the book, Lily Learns Sign Language. On the cover is Lily, wearing a purple shirt, pink pants and orange shoes. She has a very, very long ponytail. I have covered Brooke’s real name with pink tissue paper so that we can all pretend that it says “Brooke Wilson.”}

Yes, my cup runeth over with technical expertise .


{image is the title page. Text reads “This book was written by” and since Brooke filled in her name, there’s the pink tissue paper again, so imagine really hard that you don’t see it and it just says, “Brooke Wilson.” (Also feel free to imagine that I don’t suck at this, cause clearly, this just isn’t my forte.) It then says, “on ….” and Brooke has written, “June.”}

Apparently any other information is on a need to know basis and we, clearly, don’t need to know.


{image is page one – The text reads, “Daniel was deaf. He did not hear.” Pictured, Daniel has short brown hair that sticks straight up sort of like Kid from Kid and Play. (If you’re too young to get that reference, Google it.) He is wearing a blue shirt, yellow pants and green shoes and smiling broadly.}


{image is page two – Lily and Daniel are pictured together, their arms visible and animated. Both are smiling. The text reads, “Lily was gonna do sign language.”}


{image is page three – Lily and Daniel are pictured together. Daniel’s right hand is lifted to his chin. He is smiling. The text reads, “Daniel taught Lily the sign for thank you.}

Can I just say how much I love that the first sign that Daniel taught Lily was Thank you. I mean, obviously, the very first thing that she needed to be able to say was, “Thank you for teaching me to say, “Thank you.” Gratitude is awesome.


{image is page four – Lily is pictured alone, her left arm and hand extending across the page. The text reads, “Lily taught herself sign language.” 


{image is page five, Lily is pictured with suspiciously large ears, which I’m guessing is because she likes bananas so much, as we can deduce from the text, which reads, “Lily did the sign for banana.”}

(Those of you who are afficianados of Elmo’s World might recognize this scene.)


{image is page six. Lily is pictured smiling. Above her head are three rows of red hearts. The text reads, “Lily loved sign language.” }

Hmm, so learning others’ languages and immersing ourselves in other ways of communicating can bring us joy and fill our lives with love? Tell me more.


{image is page seven. Lily is pictured sitting in what appears to be a yoga pose. She is smiling. The text reads, “Lily was great.”}

I could have told you that.


{image is page eight. Lily is pictured standing. The text reads, “Lily was awesome.”}

I mean, great is good, but sometimes you just need to really drive the point home. #TeamLily


{image is page nine. Lily is pictured standing. The text reads, “Lily was good at sign language.”}


{image is page ten. Lily is pictured standing next to her mom, who has very long, straight black hair. She is wearing a yellow shirt and orange pants. The text reads, “Lily was so brave.”}

I don’t think we can discount the fact that Lily’s mom was pretty brave to wear those pants in public, but hey, to each her own. It’s worth noting that in every book that Brooke has written, Lily has been brave. Which I love. A lot.


{image is the back cover. The text reads, “The end.”}

So to recap, Daniel is deaf. And happy. Lily is happy too because she’s learning to speak his language. The first thing she learns is gratitude. Once she learns to communicate with her friend in the way that is most comfortable for him, their lives are filled with love and joy and bravery and fulfillment … and orange pants. Any questions?

Ed note: I am so grateful to my girl for so generously (and bravely) giving us all the gift of herself. Thank you, sweet girl. Thank you. 

Ed other note: I swear I didn’t do this on purpose, but the opportunity to plug this fabulous fundraiser is too good not to mention here … If you want to own a piece of Brooke’s art, you can! Now through August 10th, Brooke is the featured artist on Paper Clouds Apparel. 50% of net proceeds of any sale of her artwork goes directly to her favorite place on Earth, SenseAbility Gym AND Paper Clouds is like the greatest company ever, creating a sustainable business model employing disabled workers at fair market wages. Please check them out, like their Facebook page and share the campaign with your friends. They operate on a shoe string budget and their marketing is solely word of mouth, so any help spreading the word is greatly appreciated. More on this next week!

12 thoughts on “lily learns sign language

  1. Just an FYI target has loaded their $1-$3 section with teacher goodies and school supplies. They had blank 8 page books in packs of 3 for $3. Incase Brooke needs to create more masterpieces!

  2. I am so in love with Brooke right now! What a great, great, AWESOME piece of work. I can’t wait until my shirt with her artwork arrives!

  3. I love this so much! My youngest daughter is deaf, and my seven year old daughter has been going out of her way to teach all of her own hearing friends and teachers sign language, “so that the world will be an easier place” for her sister. Awesome book! Thank you for sharing it with us. 🙂

  4. Ok Jess. Day 2 of my adventure of trying to comment where you can see it! I’m a mom of 5, sometimes I refer to myself as a crazy mom of 5, but nonetheless, I’m not crazy in a scary, stalker kind of way. Lol. I’ve followed your page for a long time and am always so impressed with your ability to express your feelings so clearly that they can be felt by the reader. Not only are they felt, but even though I do not have a child with autism, I can relate to your feelings of joy and frustration, of fear and happiness. I was curious if you lived far from the city, or close. I’m flying to Boston on Thursday with my 19 yr old daughter, and am flying out Saturday. I was just seeing if you did live in the city if you ever meet readers for a quick cup of tea/coffee, a thank you for the difference you are making in this world, and a hug. I’m going to be in a crazy adventure, “Katie” may or may not think its a funny adventure, but I can’t say it publicly. If not this trip, someday, I’d be honored to meet you.
    My husband is from the North Shore, so we will be back again next summer. We live in Florida. Anyway, thank you for reading this if I even wrote it in the right spot, if not, this was my third try, when you find it eventually it will be like a message in a bottle or time capsule! Have a great night!

    • Leslie, thank you so much for asking, but sadly, I just can’t do it. I hope you have a blast on your adventure and enjoy our fair city 🙂

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