September 9, 2015

El Deafo by Cece Bell


El Deafo by Cece Bell, color by David Lasky

"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 was just four years old when she contracted meningitis and subsequently lost her hearing. In this graphic novel written for children and young adults, she tells the story of her childhood, how she coped with loneliness and feeling different, and how she was ultimately able to become the superhero she always envisioned she could be.

In addition to the bright, vibrant illustrations and the lessons the story teaches about surviving in an environment where differences are treated like negative attributes, Cece Bell's book is a great resource for teaching readers of any age about the Deaf community and Deaf culture. Cece's explanations about her own experiences helped me understand things I had not realized before about the varying ranges of deafness. Because Cece struggled with friends and often felt lonely, she found herself watching a lot of television but she was frequently unable to make out what the actors were saying. The same could be said for listening to music--without being able to read lips or have a context for the words being spoken, meaning was often incomprehensible. Cece's narrative helps kids understand that while some people mistakenly think speaking louder or slower will help, it's not necessarily the appropriate response.

Perhaps the greatest takeaway from the book is the message it gives young readers that being different isn't bad and that deafness isn't something that has to be categorized as a disability or something to be cured or fixed. While each person who has deafness has the right to choose their own response to the condition, Cece's story allows audiences to see how a young girl was able to help others see her as she always saw herself--as a hero.

Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

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