Deaf Culture Books for Children

As a Deaf child growing up in the oral mainstream setting, I lacked access to books that could have guided me through the difficulties I faced.

However, today there are many books available for all ages that provide support and resources for Deaf individuals.

Here are some recommendations that I find worth reading:

Pre-K-grade 6

1. Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, a Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion” by Shannon Stocker

This inspiring picture book tells the true story of world-famous deaf percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie.

As a child, Evelyn Glennie’s ears began to hurt. Voices became distant whispers and ringing phones sounded like muffled crunches. When she was told that she would need to wear hearing aids for the rest of her life, Evelyn was determined that this would never stop her from playing music. Instead of giving up on her dreams, Evelyn found new ways to listen.

With stunning illustrations from Devon Holzwarth, and a special note from Evelyn Glennie herself, this is the perfect book to inspire children to never give up on their dreams.

2. Jack Signs! by Karen Hardwicke

Based on a true story, Jack Signs! is the heart-warming story of a little boy who is deaf, his typically hearing sister and their mom. When his mom discovers a book of sign language, their family life is transformed and Jack blossoms with his new-found communication skills.

Integrating “sign along with me” icons, children and their parents are encouraged to sign along with Jack as they read the story.

3. Bonnie and the Deaf Bake Squad: A Lesson in Confidence” by Mickey Carolan

Step into the delightful world of young Bonnie, a vibrant and determined Deaf girl whose passion for baking knows no bounds! In this heartwarming picture book, Bonnie and the Deaf Bake Squad: A Lesson in Confidence. Follow Bonnie’s inspiring journey as she embarks on a thrilling baking competition with the dream of claiming victory!

Born Deaf, Bonnie has never let her physical disability hinder her dreams. Supported by her loving and compassionate friends from the renowned Michigan School for the Deaf, Bonnie dives headfirst into preparing her show-stopping entry for the prestigious Tuscola County Fair. With unwavering determination and a sprinkle of creativity, Bonnie puts her heart and soul into each delectable creation, all the while proving that being Deaf is no barrier to success.

Yet, as the competition draws nearer, Bonnie’s excitement is tinged with doubts and fears. Will she be able to stand tall against her hearing peers? The pressure seems insurmountable, but that’s when the incredible Deaf Bake Squad steps in to lend their unwavering support. As a tight-knit group of talented bakers, they become Bonnie’s pillar of strength, reminding her that her abilities know no bounds.

In Bonnie and the Deaf Bake Squad, readers will be treated to an array of stunning, full-color illustrations that bring the characters and their baking creations to life. These vivid visuals not only enhance the reading experience but also serve as an excellent opportunity for families and early educators from both the Deaf and hearing communities to engage in meaningful discussions about inclusivity, empathy, and the power of embracing differences.

Young Adulthood Years (grade 7-12)

1. Hear Me by Kerry O’Malley Cerra

A year after being diagnosed with hearing loss, twelve-year-old Rayne is doing her best to live a “normal” life and act like nothing has changed. 

But her hearing keeps failing her. Even with hearing aids, she has trouble following conversations and hanging out with her friends the way she used to. Her grades are slipping, surfing is now a wipeout, and she can’t understand the lyrics of her favorite singer’s new songs. 

Rayne’s parents are pushing for her to get cochlear implants, which could restore her hearing―though she would hear sounds differently than she did before her hearing loss.

Rayne isn’t convinced the surgery for CIs is worth the risks and challenges. In fact, she’s terrified of it. She begs her parents to consider other options, but they’re not budging.

With the surgery looming, Rayne sets off on a search for alternatives. Along the way, she discovers that “normal” can have many meanings―and that even though her ears may be broken, she is not.

2. The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais

Deaf teen Maya moves across the country and must attend a hearing school for the first time. As if that wasn’t hard enough, she also has to adjust to the hearing culture. As Maya looks past graduation and focuses on her future dreams, not even an unexpected romance, will derail her pursuits or cause her to question her own self worth.

The Silence Between Us:

  • Features a Deaf protagonist and an #OwnVoices perspective on Deaf and Hard of Hearing culture
  • Is a clean YA romance by Wattpad sensation Alison Gervais
  • Is perfect for fans of Nicola Yoon and CeCe Bell
  • Includes an interview with the author and a commentary on cochlear implants by Alison

3. Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

A girl finds a community–and love–over the course of one summer in this joyful, wholesome YA romance that celebrates Deaf pride. Think CODA meets Jenny Han!

Lilah is stuck in the middle.

At least, that’s what having a hearing loss seems like sometimes–when you don’t feel “deaf enough” to identify as Deaf or hearing enough to meet the world’s expectations. But this summer, Lilah is ready for a change.

When Lilah becomes a counselor at a summer camp for the deaf and blind, her plan is to brush up on her ASL. Once there, she also finds a community. There are cute British lifeguards who break hearts but not rules, a YouTuber who’s just a bit desperate for clout, the campers Lilah’s responsible for (and overwhelmed by)–and then there’s Isaac, the dreamy Deaf counselor who volunteers to help Lilah with her signing. 

Romance was never on the agenda, and Lilah’s not positive Isaac likes her that way. But all signs seem to point to love. Unless she’s reading them wrong? One thing’s for sure: Lilah wanted change, and things here . . . they’re certainly different from what she’s used to.

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