In an earlier post I did suggest that there would be a librarian-ish spin to future posts about Deaf History Month, March 13-April 15. It’s only fair because the whole idea of a month to celebrate the history of the nation’s deaf community did come from a remarkable librarian, Alice Hagemeyer. With her persistent pressure the National Association of the Deaf and the American Library Association established the Deaf History tradition in 2006.
Another reason for the spin is that one hard of hearing librarian continues the tradition with her Speak Up Librarian blog, managed by a “hard of hearing librarian who will never tell you to s-h-h-h.” Sarah Wegley reinforced my interest in books that feature deaf and hard of hearing children (or dogs) that help explain deafness to kids. I mention dogs because the first post I found on the Speak Up Librarian’s site was actually about a deaf dog, a border collie named Kiefer, a dog who signs and generously shares illustrations and explanations of ASL Kiefer actually has his own Facebook page and blog, so children can understand when their friends and family members are deaf or hard of hearing.
Inspired by Kiefer I soon discovered a world of children’s books, both factual and fiction, for children who want to learn about deafness and Deaf culture. Because I am not expert on Deaf culture or children’s books, I can only list the books, though my expectation is that the sources I’ve used exercised good judgment is writing, illustrating, publishing or putting them on library or bookstore shelves.
Carole Addabbo, Dina the Deaf Dinosaur
Lorraine Aseltine, Evelyn Mueller, Nancy Tait, I’m Deaf and It’s Okay
Josh Berk, The Dark Days of Hamburger Helper
Barbara D. Booth, Mandy
Andy Russell Bowe, A World of Knowing: A story about Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet
Keelin Carey, The Smart Princess and Other Deaf Tales
Patricia A. Dyreson, A Very Special Egg (also an introduction to Easter symbolism)
Kate Gaynor, Karen Quirke, illus A Birthday for Ben
Ron Hamilton, Peggy B. Deal (illus), Alan and the Baron
James Riggio Herlan, Nicole Simmonds, illus. Can You Hear a Rainbow?
Anthony John, Five Flavors of Dumb
Wendy Kupfer, Let’s Hear It for Almigal
Patricia Lakin, Robert C. Steele (illus), Dad and Me in the Morning
Christy Mackinnon, Silent Observer
Marlee Matlin and Doug Cooney, Nobody’s Perfect
Marlee Matalin, Deaf Child Crossing
Isaac Millman, Moses Goes to a Concert
Isaac Millman, Moses Sees a Play
Isaac Millman, Moses Goes to the Circus
Eifi Nijssen, Laurie
Jeanne Whitehouse Peterson, I Have a Sister, My Sister Is Deaf
Jean Davies Okimoto, A Place for Grace
Delia Ray, Singing Hands
Anita Riggio, Secret Signs: Along the Underground Railroad
Ginny Rorby, Hurt Go Happy
Gloria Roth Lowell, Karen Stormer Brooks, Elena’s Ears, Or How I Became the Best Big Sister in the World
Betty Rushford, Best Buddies and The Fruit of the Spirit
Pete Seeger, Paul DuBois Jacobs, The Deaf Musicians
Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck: A Novel in Worlds and Pictures
Andrea Stenn Stryer, Kami and the Yaks
Michael Thai, “Goodbye Tchaikovsky”
Myron Uhlberg, Dad Jackie
Myron Uhlberg, Hands of My Father: A Hearty Boy, His Deaf Parents, and the Language of Love
Jan Wahl, Kim Howard (lllus), Rosa’s Parrot
Dawn L. Watkins, The Spelling Window.
This incomplete list is the tip of a wonderful iceberg loaded with great books and great people. Starting with the title and author it’s fairly easy to find more about reading level and content of individual books.
One way to learn about other books is to check the Gallaudet University Press which maintains a robust publisher’s list of children’s books and videos, many of which are great introductions for hearing youngsters who are learning about ASL in child care or pre-school.
Another good source is the Speak Up Librarian where Sarah not only speaks up but keeps up. One resource she lists is her favorite blogs, a dozen or more sites that share tips on books and more resources of and for the deaf community.
Or ask your local librarian, ASL teacher or independent bookseller what’s the latest greatest book on their shelf or order list. If you have problems finding a good read for a child speak up – and be sure your message is heard.