Book Club Spotlight – El Deafo

Cover of El Deafo by Cece Bell. 
A bunny girl with a red cape flies through the ear with a large hearing aid strapped to her chest. The wires spell out "El Deafo".

This month is the 32nd year since the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), making July Disability Pride Month! Featured in the 2022 Disability Readathon– is it a bird? Is it a plane? It’s El Deafo by Cece Bell! A graphic novel, recommended for grades 3-7, is an “only slightly fictionalized, honest!” account of what it was like growing up deaf.

In El Deafo, we meet 4-year-old bunny Cece, who loves her polka-dotted swimsuit, singing, and being “a regular kid.” But when a case of meningitis takes her hearing, she has to navigate her new silent world and the awkwardness of growing up! With her bulky hearing aid and cords, Cece can’t help but feel embarrassed by her deafness. She’s bullied, ignored by teachers, and has to deal with people who mean well but treat her differently, all because she can’t hear. As she gets older, she realizes that her deafness isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s a part of who she is! Plus- her hearing aid actually gives her superpowers! All she needs is a couple of good friends, and to show her classmates that her disability doesn’t mean she can’t be a hero too!

“And being different? That turned out to be the best part of all. I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing. Our differences are our superpowers.”

Cece Bell

El Deafo has something for every reader. Using resources like the Teaching Guide, groups can cover questions from language arts to science and social studies! If your readers are interested in watching these characters come to life, El Deafo was made into a three-part mini-series on Apple TV+. In addition, you can find excellent topics for discussion in the Author’s Note, where Bell discusses the diversity of the deaf community and how each person approaches their disability differently. Some people might disagree with her approach to deafness and that’s ok! We’re all different, “most of the time we are lost, drifting along on our own planets. But we are together in the same universe, at least”.

If you’re interested in requesting this book for your book club, you can find the Book Club Kit Request Form HERE. (Items must be requested by a librarian)

Cece Bell. El Deafo. Amulet Books. 2014.

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