Twenty recommended children's books about hearing loss
Reading about hearing loss helps kids understand diversity and inclusion
“The more that you read, the more you know. The more that you learn, the more places you go,” Dr. Seuss once famously said. He was right. Children of families who read together have closer relationships with their parents, do better academically, develop better communication and logical thinking skills, and are more focused and disciplined.
Not only that, but reading relevant stories is a great way to teach children, tweens and teens about diversity, understanding and inclusion. Why not keep a few books on hearing loss and hearing aids in the house so your kids or grandkids—regardless of whether they have normal hearing or hearing loss—can learn to celebrate the differences in others? These also make great holiday or birthday gifts for any little one (or teen!) in you life:
Newborn to eight years old
Reading to your children at this age is one of the best things you can do to prepare them for academic excellence. Here are a few picks for babies, preschoolers and young readers:
by Travis D. Peterson
This little deaf fox will dance her way into your child's heart, regardless of whether or not they have hearing loss. On her way to dance in a talent show, Ada meets three new creatures, each with a disability of their own. In her efforts to help her new friends realize their God-given strength, Ada finds they help her, too.
Special features in this book include one word on each page illustrated in American Sign Language to help with fingerspelling skills, an ASL alphabet in the back of the book, and an introduction to the Ling Six Sound Test using three of the ling sounds.
by Sally O. Lee
Lucy discovers she can't hear in one ear after a play session with friends. After her parents take her to the doctor, who confirms her hearing loss, Lucy is sad until she begins to notice others with different disabilities. Lucy learns she can still sing, dance, and draw—and that her friends still like her just the way she is.
by Genevieve Yusuf
This beautifully illustrated story is about a young elephant who goes on a long journey in search of his hearing and learns about inclusion and empowerment in the process. British and American Sign Language alphabets are included in the back, plus 10% of book sales will be donated to the Rangammal school in India to aid children with hearing loss.
by Becky Cymbaluk
This colorfully illustrated book stars Kena, a girl with hearing aids, as she works through issues with classmates who don’t understand her hearing loss. With the help of her mom, Kena realizes her hearing aids give her ears “super powers” and makes plans to form a team of her other differently-abled friends in an effort to explain their super powers to the class during Show and Tell.
by Julia Donaldson
Fairy Besse Belle has hearing loss, but that doesn't stop her from trying to grant Freddie's wishes. Unfortunately, Freddie mumbles, so the Fairy Queen steps in to help. Children will love this witty, rhyming tale with its subtle message about the importance of speaking directly to someone who has hearing loss.
by Katie Petruzziello
Petruzziello is mom to three kids, including a daughter who is deaf and uses cochlear implants to hear. Her daughter's observation that few books included deaf/hard of hearing characters like her prompted Petruzziello to write one. In the book, Mila's plan is to do everything on her own, without asking for help. She uses her creativity, willpower, and even her new cochlear implant hearing devices, to tackle one big kid activity after another.
by Jenna Harmke
Seventeen-year-old Jenna Harmke wrote this book based on her own experiences. Bessie the bunny is excited to start her first day of preschool, only to come home deflated after realizing she can't hear hew new schoolmates. After a trip to the audiologist, Bessie gets hearing aids and preschool becomes the fun place it's meant to be. A great read for younger kids with hearing loss.
by Ada Bassett Litchfield
Though this book was originally published more than four decades ago, it still makes our short list. Your child will enjoy reading how a young girl’s hearing loss was detected and treated with the help of a hearing aid. Those with normal hearing will learn about hearing loss, and those with hearing loss will identify with the primary character. Just keep in mind that today's hearing aids look quite different than the body style aid featured in this classic.
by Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson
Read along as a sister affectionately describes her younger, deaf sister as someone who likes to run and jump and play, just like everyone else. Part of the Reading Rainbow Book series.
Author Kate Gaynor uses Ben’s birthday party to illustrate the challenges of hearing loss, but also the ways in which we are all the same. A good book to help teach concepts of understanding and inclusion.
by Patricia Lakin
Parents and children will enjoy this sweet read, describing the very special relationship a dad has with his deaf son and how they find ways to communicate with each other. A great introduction to American Sign Language (ASL) and Deaf culture, this book is a good read for children of all hearing abilities.
This interactive book, written from a young child’s perspective, describes the journey from hearing loss to hearing aid. Readers and/or listeners can interact by answering multiple-choice questions, as well as learning about benefits to wearing hearing aids and how to take care of them.
By this age, children may be independent readers but still occasionally love to have a caregiver read a book to them. Either way, these books are recommended for kids in the fourth grade to tween range:
by Cece Bell
This Newbery Honor winning graphic novel memoir from Cece Bell became a New York Times bestseller upon publication, and it's easy to see why. This charming book follows Cece as she navigates the awkwardness and amazingness of having a super-hearing, thanks to her hearing aids. Publisher's Weekly said "Bell’s earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe (“eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!”), and her invention of an alter ego—the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters . . . all combine to make this a standout autobiography."
by Nancy Butts
Older readers will enjoy this book about a deaf girl named Miranda, who must learn to trust a new friend after her cousin, Timothy, is lost at sea. Author Nancy Butts weaves suspense and intrigue into the story when the two share a mysterious dream about Timothy.
Jessi’s Secret Language (Babysitter's Club series)
by Ann Matthews Martin
When Jessi begins to learn sign language from Matt, a young boy whom she babysits, she becomes determined to introduce sign language to other interested children in the community. The book is #16 of The Babysitter’s Club series.
by Stephen J. and Jodi Michelle Cutler
After 10-year old Jordan is injured in an accident, he finds it difficult to return to his favorite sport of baseball. Fortunately, he meets Luca at summer camp, a deaf boy who wears a cochlear implant and inspires Jordan with a “nothing is impossible” attitude. Find out how they rally together in the biggest game of Jordan’s life.
by Debby Waldman
Read how Addy, who has worn hearing aids for most of her life, discovers a hidden talent that teaches her she is not defined by her hearing loss.
The practice of reading really pays off once children enter their teen years. At this age, reading improves vocabulary and writing skills, helps teens navigate complex life issues, broadens their imagination and increases the likelihood of academic success.
by Lynne Kelly
As a deaf kid in a hearing world, 12-year old Iris knows what it's like to be misunderstood. So, when she learns of Blue 55, a whale whose song is so off-pitch he's become unrecognizable to other whales, she is determined to let him know someone understands his lonliness—even if it means breaking family and school rules to reach him.
by Isaiah John Baier
There's nothing more poignant than a heartfelt memoir and this one delivers. Written and illustrated by 11-year old Isaiah Baier, the book gives readers a glimpse into his life as a child who lost his hearing to meningitis at 20-months of age and now wears cochlear implants. "Just to let you know, this book was made without any self pity," he writes in the disclaimer. "Feel free to laugh about my circumstances."
Isaiah donates 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of this book to Hear the World, a non-profit mission which provides hearing devices to those with hearing loss all over the world.
by Lois L. R. Hodge
Biney is 13 and has hearing loss, but that doesn’t stop her from helping a friend in crisis. The challenge helps her prove to everyone, including herself, just how grown up she really is.
This magazine is for kids and teens with hearing loss, and gives them an opportunity to connect with others experiencing the same issues and challenges. Includes resources for parents and teachers, too.
We hope a few of these entertaining, inspiring and thought-provoking stories make their way into your home. And, if you are concerned about the hearing of your child or anyone else in your family, reach out to a qualified hearing care professional for a thorough evaluation and care plan.