The Power of El Deafo!

The Power of El Deafo!

A while back I partook in a discussion on Facebook about the factuality of the novel Wonder. Now, I love the book Wonder and feel it has a solid needed place in the classroom, but how the author addresses hearing loss is concerning. I addressed this in my novel study by adding a non-fiction article to help portray the real side of hearing loss so that students reading the novel understand the mistakes made by the author.

While discussing my feelings on Facebook, another person asked if I had read the novel El Deafo by Cece Bell. She was curious about how real and factual it is to a person who walks in the shoes of hearing loss, such as me. She said her students overwhelmingly love the Newbery Honor-winning graphic novel. ordered the novel to read and am so happy that I did!


I have been living with hearing loss for over 25 years. It is a daily struggle to communicate with my family and the world. I have lost many things due to my hearing loss, including my teaching career. El Deafo is the autobiographical story of Cece Bell’s struggles with hearing loss told in a graphic novel format that is a perfect way to get the true feelings across. The book highlights how Cece embraces these struggles and turns them into a superpower! Even though Cece is in elementary school in the book and I am well beyond that age, I found myself shaking my head in agreement and relating to Cece like I never have before in any other story I have read. It’s like so many of the things she was saying I have said or felt so many times!


The message that volume does not equal better hearing was strong in this book, and it is a message that the hearing world really fails to understand and yet, really needs to! Talking louder, talking slower, talking more pronounced DOES NOT HELP! It makes it much more difficult for those like Cece and myself who rely on lip-reading to understand. If the only message that you take away from this story is NOT to turn up the volume for those with hearing loss, the world will be a better place! That’s not the only message, as there were so many I could relate to, including isolation, feelings of shame, embarrassment, avoidance of situations, putting up with things and people only due to fear, and on and on. Cece doesn’t just focus on the negative, she embraces her differences and turns them into a superpower to draw people to her. I just loved everything about this book. I also believe that you don’t have to have hearing loss to relate to and love this book. It is such a wonderful read for ALL students.

El Deafo is a powerful and impactful novel that offers a unique perspective on the experiences of the hearing-loss community. Its accessible format, relevant themes, and emotional connection make it an ideal choice for a novel study in the classroom. I had never created a product for a graphic novel before, so it was a different process, especially with the lack of vocabulary activities.

I also wanted to include as much real-world information to help the student walk away with a greater understanding of the factual side of hearing loss and to learn better ways to communicate with those that live with a hearing loss. There is so much great information on this subject which made a WebQuest a productive way to address this portion of the novel study, especially in the ever more frequent digital classroom! As with all of my other novel studies, these activities are also available in a Google Drive format for those in a paperless classroom.

See what people are saying about the El Deafo Novel Study by The Teaching Bank!

Reasons to Use El Deafo as a novel study in Your Classroom
  • Diverse Representation: El Deafo provides a unique perspective on the experiences of people with hearing loss, promoting diversity and inclusiveness in the classroom.
  • Emotional Connection: The personal narrative of the protagonist Cece creates an emotional connection with readers, encouraging empathy and understanding.
  • Promotes Understanding: The book offers insight into the challenges faced by people with hearing loss and promotes a greater understanding of the challenges that they live with.
  • Accessible to All: The graphic novel format makes El Deafo accessible to a wide range of readers, including those who may struggle with traditional text-based novels.
  • Relevant Themes: The themes of identity, friendship, and self-discovery are universal and relevant to students of all ages and abilities, making El Deafo an ideal choice for a novel study.

Try a free sample of the novel study for El Deafo

If you haven’t read this book, please do so, even if you don’t plan to do a novel study. I cannot recommend this book enough to everyone! I hope you will use this in your classroom to help get the knowledge out there for everyone who lives with a hearing loss or knows someone that does. Knowledge leads to understanding, and understanding leads to inclusion and empathy. We can never have enough of that in this world!

You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:


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