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In the world of books, we talk a lot about the importance of being able to recognize ourselves in the characters of the books we read. For d/Deaf and hard of hearing (HoH) people, a series of books have been published in recent years that have added wonderful new titles to Deaf literature.
In children’s literature, we have everything from graphic novels featuring deaf characters like a bunny with a superpower or a girl who makes new friends during a crisis. And new deaf stories are coming out all the time! In young adult literature, True Biz by Sara Novic and deaf not Deaf by Christian Fusco should be released this spring.
And of course, d/Deaf people are the main characters in their own lives, and many d/Deaf and HoH writers have shared their stories through their memoirs and poems. In his collection of poems Deaf Republic, author Ilya Kaminsky writes: “Deaf people don’t believe in silence. Silence is the invention of hearing.
Whether you are an AD/Deaf or HoH person looking for more representation or a hearing person reading to learn more about d/deaf experiences, there is a book for you. In fact, there are too many wonderful books to count, but here are some books with deaf characters that you should definitely add to your TBR!
El Deafo by Cece Bell
This graphic novel features the author’s own experience as the only deaf girl in her school. It’s quite an adjustment when she moves from her fully deaf school to her new one, but on the first day she realizes that her hearing aid can pick up the voices of teachers from all over the school. She has a super power!
Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson
Frannie is a girl just trying to figure out life. She struggles to put aside her feelings of despair as she tries to make sense of the world around her. But slowly, she begins to see the world in a new way through her relationships, especially through her relationship with her deaf brother.
Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Valencia Somerset is a deaf girl who longs to make friends. When a boy named Virgil is trapped at the bottom of a well by bullies, Valencia finds himself teaming up with Kaori and Chet, two other kids from his school, to find Virgil and save him (if need be).
You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner
Julie finds a slur written about her friend in the back of her school, so she decides to cover it in graffiti, which is against school rules. When she finds herself expelled from her deaf school for this, she must integrate for the first time in an “ordinary” school.
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly
Iris is the only deaf person in her school, which sometimes makes her feel incredibly lonely. She feels like she has no one to talk to, that people around her aren’t listening. But then she discovers a whale called Blue 55 who can’t talk to other whales for some reason. She knows exactly how he feels and becomes determined to find a way to “sing” to him.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare Lezotte
Mary Lambert comes from a community in Martha’s Vineyard where deaf and hearing people use sign language in everyday life. For Mary, it’s normal. But when a young scientist arrives trying to figure out why deafness is so prevalent in the community, Mary finds herself the target of one of his experiments.
Nasty little deaf fagot by Terry Galloway
Deaf lesbian writer Terry Galloway describes her experience of losing her hearing at age 9 and learning to navigate a world as the only child she knew with hearing aids. She eventually discovers that performing gives her a way to channel her feelings, providing an incredible artistic outlet that she will use throughout her life.
It Feels Like Home: Growing Up Black and Deaf in the South by Mary Herring Wright
Originally published in 1999, Sounds like home tells the story of Mary Herring Wright, a deaf black woman growing up in rural North Carolina. The 20th anniversary edition includes an introduction by Joseph Hill and Carolyn McCaskill, who explain that this text and accompanying photos are among the only documents from segregated schools for black deaf people.
Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma
In her incredible memoir, disability rights advocate and attorney Haben Girma shares her experience of attending and graduating from Harvard Law School. The daughter of Eritrean immigrants, Girma describes her experience of traveling the world and then attending law school, including her innovations in braille text technology.
Be sure to check True Biz by Sara Novic and deaf not deaf by Christian Fusco when they come out this spring! And you can find more books featuring d/Deaf and HoH characters from resources like Hear like mereading Club.