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Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Characters in YA Fiction

2013 April 15
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YA books with characters who are deaf or hard of hearing, or live with family members who are deaf, are few and far between, but they’re out there! These books have all the good stuff: first love, heartbreak, peer pressure, growing pains … but with the added perspective of teens who experience life in a diverse community.

Read my Lips Read My Lips by Teri Brown

Serena will do just about anything to fit in at her new high school, so when some popular girls find out that she is crazy good at reading lips, they befriend her hoping she can snoop out all the good gossip. But how far is Serena willing to go to reach the top of the school food-chain?

 

 

Of Sound MindOf Sound Mind by Jean Ferris

Theo has grown up as the only hearing member of his deaf family, and from a young age he was tasked with interpreting between his signing parents and the speaking world. As he comes of age, Theo recognizes his growing resentment of his family — especially his demanding and off-balance mom — but when his father has a stroke, the responsibilities of the family land on Theo’s shoulders.

 

five flavors of dumbFive Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

High school senior Piper is hit with the news that her parents have used her college funds to help pay for her little sister’s cochlear implants, so she strikes out to find a way to replenish her money and her self-worth. When the opportunity to become the manager of popular teen rock band, Dumb, is offered to her she grabs it and runs, soon finding out that her role as manager isn’t just about getting gigs for the band, but to referee the members and provide some needed leadership. However, her role as manager comes into question when Piper’s own deafness appears to be a barrier to her potential success in the music industry.

 

strong-deaf1Strong Deaf by Lynn McElfresh

Strong Deaf captures the dichotomous relationship between two sisters who live in the same house but different worlds: Jade, the only hearing member of a deaf family, and her sister Marla, who antagonizes and shuts Jade out for not “fitting in” to the deaf community. These sisters have some serious sibling rivalry going on!

 

hurt go happyHurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

13-year-old Joey Willis feels isolated as she struggles to communicate with everyone around her. Deaf since she was a young child, Joey never learned sign language because her mother insists that Joey “listens” by reading lips. When Joey’s chance meeting with an elderly neighbor and his signing Chimpanzee, Sukari, leads her to begin learning American Sign Language, Joey is finally able to communicate and experience friendship. When Sukari’s life is threatened, Joey has to find the courage to stand up for Sakuri’s rights, as well as her own.

Stop over at the YALSAblog to read more about serving deaf and hard of hearing teens.

– Dena Little, currently reading The Lost Days (Emily the Strange series) by Rob Reger

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5 Responses
  1. April 15, 2013

    I gave Hurt Go Happy to a deaf coworker to read because I was so taken with the way “lip-read” diaglog was handled. His wife, also deaf, loved the book and thus I became a resource for recommending books for their kids.

    And don’t forget Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin!

    • Jessica M permalink
      April 17, 2013

      I was just going to mention The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin! I thought that was another book that dealt with the issue well enough that it was a natural part of the storyline, not the distracting focus, you know?

  2. April 15, 2013

    I have also written a book that features a deaf character. It’s an older title, Kat’s Fall, and Kat is the deaf girl. From the back jacket. “Darcy’s mother is getting out of jail. Ten years ago she was convicted of throwing his baby sister off a fifth floor balcony. Kat survived, but Darcy has spent the last decade raising his sister, giving her the love and support she has been denied by an absent mother and an uncaring father.

    As he grudgingly re-establishes ties with the mother he thinks he hates, he is accused of a horrific act. It will take incredible strength – his own and others – to fight the charges, but he finds that truth is often an elusive concept and that trust and love are powerful allies.”

  3. April 16, 2013

    This list is great! I forwarded it to my Hands & Voices group for deaf and hard-of-hearing families. A list like this for younger kids–middle grade and below–would be wonderful to see, as well. Many kids get their first hearing aids in elementary school and they often struggle with suddenly being “different”. It helps when they can see that they aren’t the only ones who have this issue.

  4. Mary Goullaud permalink
    April 17, 2013

    Hands of my Father is a memoir written by the hearing son
    of deaf parents. It certainly is suitable for young
    adults who will find some of his story very
    amusing.

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