Sunday, February 21, 2016

El Deafo

  • One of my favorite books I have read yet this semester is one that I least expected to enjoy. When I heard, "graphic novel", my first thought was, "ugh". I was shocked when I ended up turning each page of El Deafo by Cece Bell before bed with the mindset of "just one more page. Okay, one more chapter." 


  • El Deafo is about the author's journey with deafness as a young child. Since the story is her own, the reader believes her every word and is hooked by her credibility. The story starts when Cece contracts meningitis and loses her hearing at only four years old. The reader immediately likes her, not because they feel sorry for her (although her sickness is sad), but because she is so relatable with her personable corks-- like preferring to wear a swimsuit everywhere she goes and making goofy jokes with her friends.

  • We watch as Cece goes through Kindergarten up to fifth grade. We learn of her different friends (some of whom she loves and some who drive her mad), different teachers, and different feelings from grade to grade. Although Cece stands out, she is also just like the other kids in her class with her desire to fit in and make caring, true friends. 

  • Not only is the story itself relatable, but Bell's choice to tell the story in graphic novel form makes the story accessible to a variety of readers. The pictures aid in understanding and since the story is mainly told through dialogue, the reading goes quickly and is not very difficult.

Cece's Kindergarten class has students just like her.

  • When I first started reading this book, I thought it might be good to suggest to some of the hearing impaired students I know in my school. However, the more I read, I realized that, as Bell notes in her afterword, not all hearing loss is the same, and people approach it differently. I realize I would want to be mindful about suggesting this book to a student with hearing loss, and would want to preface them with the fact that it might not be exactly like their situation, but could give them a sense of comfort, and if it doesn't, that is okay, too-- they do not have to like the book or even finish it. However, I think if my hearing-impaired students did like the story, they would find Cece to be empowering, especially with her super-hero-self, "El Deafo".

  • After going through these thoughts, I realized that this book might even be better for students without hearing loss. Just as I learned more about deafness and how it works, my students could benefit from learning more about it. I would hope they would realize how similar these kids are to them and how "normal" they are.
Like any kid her age, Cece has a crush on a peer.

  • I considered reading this book aloud to my third graders since I enjoyed it so much, but I realize it is better to read individually since the pictures and thought-bubbles are so essential to every moment of the story.

  • I think all students in grades 2-6 could benefit from picking up the heart-felt and approachable El Deafo by Cece Bell. 

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