El Deafo by Cece Bell


Written by Cece Bell, Illustrated by David Lasky

(2014) New York, New York


Newbery Honor Book 2015

When Cece was little, she got very sick with Meningitis.  She got better, but unfortunately she developed hearing loss, so she had trouble understanding what people said.  Cece had to get hearing aids and a device called a Phonic Ear to help her hear more clearly and understand sounds better.  Along the way, Cece faced many challenges-sometimes she felt like no one understood her, and she had trouble making and keeping friends.  Through it all Cece learned a lot about herself and learned to stick up for herself!

ATOS Level: 2.7

Words to describe this book: graphic novel, informative, eye (and ear) opening, diverse, true story.

Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).

Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

Suggested Delivery: Independent read

Reading Strategies:

Before Reading: Create a KWL chart about hearing aids and hearing impairment on the board and ask students to fill out sticky notes that correspond with each section of the chart. This will help to determine how much students know, and will get them to start thinking about the subject which will be introduced in the book.

During Reading: Have students fill out a story map as they read so that they remember important details from the story and can organize their thoughts.

After Reading: Ask students to write a short summary of the story, being sure to support their writing with details from the text, but also from the illustrations.  For instance, when Cece was mad, how could you tell? Did the illustrations and body language help?

Writing Activity:  Pick a character from the story (not Cece) and write a scene from the book from their point of view. How might the story be different than when Cece was telling the story? Be sure to include the character’s thoughts and feelings.

Additional Resources:

This teaching guide from the publisher provides information about the text and the author as well as thought-provoking discussion questions and writing prompts that connect different disciplines.

This video explains how hearing aids function.  Showing students this video will allow them to gain a better understanding of a vital part of the story, and will increase their overall comprehension.

Key Vocabulary:

Audiologist– a doctor who studies hearing disorders and evaluates hearing function.

Gesture– a movement or position of the hand, arm, body, head, or face that is expressive of an idea, opinion, emotion, etc.

Hearing aid–  a compact electronic amplifier worn to improve one’s hearing, usually placed in or behind the ear.

Meningitis– a bacterial or viral infection that causes high fever, headache, stiff neck and back muscles, and sometimes hearing impairment.

Phonic– of or relating to speech sounds.

Signal– an electrical quantity or effect, such as current, voltage, or electromagnetic waves, that can convey information.


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