El Deafo by Cece Bell is a graphic novel about a girl named Cece who becomes deaf after getting sick as a young child. What was it like for Cece being deaf? Upon learning that Cece was deaf, her parents sent her to a special school for deaf children called The Fisher School. At this school she felt comfortable and secure. “George, Sabrina, Terry, Wendy, Fred, and Jamie: they understand. Because they are just like me.”
When Cece’s family moved, she could no longer attend the Fisher School and was placed in a public school. After visiting the audiologist, she was given the Phonic Ear which gave her the ability to hear her teacher well within the classroom. She soon discovered she could hear her teacher everywhere, including the bathroom! As Cece gains confidence throughout the story, she views her hearing aid as giving her superpowers! However, even with her perspective on being a superhero, Cece still struggles with feeling lonely, different and times self conscious about wearing her Phonic Ear. Her friends treat her different because she is deaf and Cece finds it challenging to make long lasting friendships with others. As she learns through various experiences, Cece becomes stronger and proud of her Phonic Ear and learns to conquer her fears and insecurities by the end of the book. She also finds true and unlikely friendship!
El Deafo is a special book that is captivating, interesting and can be an excellent tool for children to learn many valuable lessons. This book is not only an education in deafness and hearing aids, it’s also a story that any child can relate to. Cece has different emotions throughout the story including feeling scared, sad, lonely, happy and powerful. Every child goes through these emotions whether you are deaf or not. A child reading this book can view Cece as an excellent role model since she encounters different struggles, but works through each issue in her own way which makes her a stronger person in the end.
Both children and adults have struggles and bumps along the road and having characters in a book that can show a child how to work through them can be an excellent vehicle and tool. My daughter wrote up this review of the book, “El Deafo is the story of a girl that could not hear and had trouble making friends. She had friends in the grades…but she had a permanent in 5th grade. I learned that you should be strong.”
Are you a teacher? Check out this teacher guide provided by Abrams Books