Books are a great way to introduce children to deafness.
Through diverse characters and storylines, as well as whimsical illustrations, children’s books can help your child understand and embrace their deafness. Plus, they can also help hearing children learn about deafness in others.
Not sure where to start? We’ve rounded up our top 7 children’s books about deafness. Happy reading!
1. Dad and Me in the Morning – Patricia Lakin, illustrated by Robert G. Steele
‘Dad and Me in the Morning’ tells the story of a relationship between a father and his deaf son.
The pair wake up early one morning and walk to the beach, where they share tender moments on their way to watch the sunrise. Whilst using non-verbal communication, the book draws attention to the incredible bond between father and son.
The simple storyline combined with beautiful watercolour illustrations makes the book engaging for children and adults alike.
2. Ranvir Cannot Hear – Genevieve Yusuf, illustrated by Shermain Phillip
Set in India, ‘Ranvir Cannot Hear’ is a magical story where an elephant goes on a journey to search for his hearing. On his travels, he meets friends and discovers they too have things they can and can’t do. And along the journey, Ranvir discovers his special talent.
This colourful and vibrant story provides a strong message of inclusion and empowerment. The author, Genevieve spoke about the inspiration for the book on her blog:
“A family member, who had travelled to India working with the Hear the World Foundation, got back to us with stories of the Rangammal School for children with a hearing impairment. She told us how happy the children were and how excited they were to meet her. The photos of these happy, energetic, beautiful children just got to us.
3. Freddie and the Fairy – Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Karen George
This fairytale tells the story of Freddie who meets a Bessie-Belle, a fairy who offers to grant his every wish. However, Bessie-Belle can’t hear very well and Freddie tends to mumble. Luckily the Fairy Queen is on hand to explain why.
‘Freddie and the Fairy’ touches on the importance of clear communication with those who are deaf or hard of hearing, and provides simple ‘golden rules’ to follow. It’s the perfect book for both deaf and hearing children to read together, where they can begin to learn about communication and accessibility.
Author Julia, who is hard-of-hearing and an advocate for inclusivity in children’s books, said in an interview:
“I was very touched by the positive response to Freddie and the Fairy from deaf children, their parents and their teachers, and realised what a lot it meant to children with hearing problems, and in particular hearing aids, to see a character like themselves in a book. That was one of the reasons why, when I became the children’s laureate in 2011, I decided I would do all I could to promote stories for and about deaf children.”
4. Let’s Hear it for Almigal – Wendy Kupfer, illustrated by Tammie Lyon
In this picture book, we’re introduced to Almigal, a young girl with hearing loss who is determined to hear every single sound thanks to her new cochlear implants. Almigal is and fun-loving, spontaneous character, who is particularly relatable for children with cochlear implant.
‘Let’s Hear it for Almigal’ celebrates our unique differences as individuals and provides children with an important lesson on inclusivity.
Author Wendy, whose daughter Ali has severe hearing loss and cochlear implants in both ears, spoke about why she wrote ‘Almigal’:
“There are all these wonderful children’s books that dealt with various issues, but not one featuring a child wearing a hearing aid.
It started out as a project for self-esteem for children with hearing loss, but it’s become so much more. For kids, anything that makes them feel different is a challenge. It can be freckles. It can be being the tallest kids in the class. Almigal [has] a universal message of inclusion—and accepting and respecting one another.”
5. El Deafo – Cece Bell, illustrated by Cece Bell and Kate Fitch
This semi-autobiographical novel follows Cece, a young girl with hearing problems. Cece moves to a mainstream school where she, as the only deaf student, struggles to make friends. However, she soon discovers that she can harness the power of her Phonic Ear to become El Deafo, Listener for All.
‘El Deafo’ is a bright and funny book that portrays colourful animal characters with superhero powers. The impactful message teaches children about confidence and self-empowerment.
6. All the Ways I Hear You – Stephanie Marrufo, illustrated by Priscila Soares
In ‘All the Ways I Hear You’ we meet Sy (author Stephanie Marrufo’s son), a hard of hearing boy who uses hearing aids.
Sy introduces us to his deaf, hard of hearing and deaf blind friends, who explain the different hearing devices and communication styles they use.
From cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing systems, to communication boards and sign language – this book is an incredible guide to the different options available for deaf children. And refers to the importance of personal choice.
It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to educate your child on communication options.
7. Proud to Be Deaf – Ava, Lilli and Nick Beese, illustrated by Romina Marti
Ava is a 7-year-old who is deaf and proud of it! She loves her deaf community, her bilingual ability, and that she experiences the world differently from hearing people.
In ‘Proud to Be Deaf’ Ava introduces us to her family, school, friends, hearing devices and BSL. The book also features illustrations of hand signs to help readers learn and follow BSL.
This book celebrates deafness and endeavours to inspire other young people to be proud of their deafness
Nick Beese, Ava’s father and Co-Author of the book, spoke about their motivations for writing the book:
“After reading the book, we hope deaf children will come away feeling inspired, special and proud. Hearing children who have a deaf family member can also learn more about the rich community and culture that they’re immersed in and be proud of it.”
Know any other amazing children’s books about deafness? Tell us! We’d love to include them.
This article was written by Rebecca, who has a background in communications, project management and event management. Passionate about writing, Rebecca loves researching and writing about important topics that affect the deaf and hard of hearing communities.