El Deafo

So far this year, the best professional development that I have received has come through a book recommendation from one of the students in my class, Kalyna.

Last week she brought me her copy of El Deafo by Cece Bell


A smiling Kalyna said, “Sir, you have to read this, it’s one of my favourites.”

How could I say no to that?!  

Yesterday I picked up the book and read the first half.  This morning finished the book.

It’s perfect.  

Bell’s approach to our individual abilities is light-hearted and hard hitting.  She makes a point of telling her story and letting her readers find themselves within her work.  


(An excerpt from the author’s note at the end of the book)

“… El Deafo Is based on my childhood (and on the secret nickname I really did get myself back then). It is in no way a representation of what all deaf people might experience. It’s also important to note that while I was writing and drawing the book, I was more interested in capturing the specific feelings I had as a kid with hearing loss than being 100 percent accurate with the details. Some of the characters in the book are exactly how I remember them; others are composites more than one person.Some of the events in the book are in the right order; others got mixed up a bit. Some of the conversations are real; others, well, ain’t. But the way I felt as a kid-That feeling is true. I was a deaf kid surrounded by kids who could here. I felt different, and in in my mind, being different was not a good thing. I secretly, and openly,  believed that my deafness, in making me so different, was a disability. And I was ashamed.

As I grew up, however, I made some positive discoveries about deafness and about myself.  I’m no longer ashamed of being deaf, nor do i think of myself as someone with a disability.  I’ve even developed a real appreciation for sign language.  To the kid in me, being deaf was a defining characteristic, one I tried to hide.  Now it defines a smaller part of me, and I don’t try to hide it – much.  Today, I view my deafness as more of an occasion nuisance, and oddly enough, as a gift: I can turn off the sound of the world any time I want, and retreat into peaceful silence.

And being different?  That turned out to be the best part of all.  I found that with a little creativity, and a lot of dedication, any difference can be turned into something amazing.  Our differences are our superpowers.”

It’s a must read, not only for teachers working with students with various abilities, but for all of us. Read it and share it with others.

Thank you Kalyna for the wonderful recommendation.  I just ordered a copy for our classroom library.


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