Children’s and Teen Fiction About ASL and Deaf Culture

The following resources are ones that I personally recommend and are not a comprehensive list of available resources on this topic.

El Deafo by Cece Bell.  Amulet Books, 2014.

Cece Bell uses the graphic novel format for her memoir of growing up deaf in a hearing family, with an appealing anthropomorphized rabbits standing in for people…She traces her various adventures with hearing aids, using clever visual techniques to show the difficulties of speechreading and the many miscommunications that can occur.  And gradually, she creates her alter-ego, El Deafo, her internal superhero who fights the demons of growing up using the power of the rosette on her undershirt and a giant dose of creativity and positive thinking…Engaging and visually appealing, this is a great read for middle-graders – or for anyone! Read Kathy’s full review at


The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan. Simon and Schuster, 1999.

This tender YA novel centers around Marnie, a young woman forced to marry an older man to save her family from starvation. When her new husband dies in a fall, the villagers suspect she is a witch, and their suspicions grows when she befriends a another outcast who is deaf, and romance grows between them.


Deaf Child Crossing by Marlee Matlin. Simon and Schuster, 2002.

When Cindy, who is hearing, moves in down the street from Megan, who is deaf, the nine-year-olds quickly become best friends. Megan wears hearing aids and lip-reads, but the girls become even closer as Cindy begins to learn sign language. Problems crop up when her attempts to be helpful offend Megan’s sense of independence, and things get even worse at summer camp, where they meet another deaf girl, Lizzie.


Nobody’s Perfect by Marlee Matlin. Simon and Schuster, 2002.

Megan can’t wait for her positively purple birthday party, but her perfect plans get derailed when a new girl, Alexis, joins her class and rebuffs Megan’s invitation and brushes off all of Megan’s attempts to be friendly.  When Megan teaches Alexis’s autistic brother some basic sign language, it opens up communication with both him and Alexis.


Leading Ladies by Marlee Matlin. Simon and Schuster, 2007.

Rivalries abound when Megan’s fourth-grade class puts on a production of “The Wizard of Oz” and she has her heart set on playing Dorothy…but so does her friend Lizzie.


Gaps in Stone Walls by John Neufeld. Athenuem, 1996.

In the late 19th century, hereditary deafness affected at least 1/5 of the population of Chilmark, a town on Martha’s Vineyard. Among this group is Merry Skiffe, an artistic 12-year-old whose peaceful life unravels when wealthy miser Ned Nickerson is murdered on a dark road one Saturday night and Merry finds herself among the four residents of Chilmark who have no alibi.


Apple is my Sign by Mary Riskind. Houghton Mifflin, 1981.

A 10-year-old boy returns to his parents’ apple farm for the holidays after his first term at a school for the deaf in Philadelphia.


Probably the World’s Best Story about a Dog and the Girl Who Loved Me by D. James Smith. Atheneum, 2006.

Paolo O’Neil, 12, has one of those large families so full of love that they absorb stragglers without a thought. One of them is his deaf cousin, Billy, nine, who has been abandoned by his mother and become Paolo’s best friend. This riotous sequel to The Boys of San Joaquin (S & S, 2005) follows the boys through the summer of 1951 in their small California town. They take on a paper route, the family dog is kidnapped, they meet a strange out-of-town visitor, and Paolo inadvertently gets his first girlfriend. The main characters feel real, especially Billy, whose deafness is simply one aspect of his character. Each chapter title includes a description of an American Sign Language sign.