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Finding deaf characters in children’s literature

These resources can help people with finding deaf characters in children's literature. The books are for readers aged 8 to 18.
Two children wearing school uniforms stand in a forest while each is reading a book.

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Finding fiction books for children aged 8 to 18 featuring main characters who are deaf or hard of hearing or who use sign language

Finding Books

Most books for children and adolescents have characters who can hear. Deaf and hard of hearing children read and enjoy these books. But they still want to read characters who are like them. Parents, teachers, and young readers want help finding deaf characters in children’s literature.

About the Books

The links below will help you find books for children aged 8 to 18. The quality of these books vary widely. This list is not meant to provide recommendations. It is only meant to help people find books that exist. Teachers or parents will want to read them before deciding which to share.

These lists are not comprehensive. Many more books exist that are not in these lists. We will try to add more links as and when we are able. Young readers and their parents and teachers will also want to look for more resources on your own.

Most of the characters live in the United States. Some of the deaf or hard of hearing characters use sign language, but others do not. “Characters who use sign language” include both deaf and hard of hearing characters and also characters with speech impairment or other disabilities.

The books are not free. You can buy them or borrow them from a library. These books are available in some countries but unavailable in others. The Good Reads website has links to different booksellers, some of whom sell books internationally. You will need to investigate which sellers sell the book you want. Then you will need to ask the seller whether they can ship the book to your country. Or, ask your local library to purchase the book you want.

Good Reads Lists by the DisabilityInKidLit blog site

Books by Deaf or Hard of Hearing Authors

Most book authors are hearing and do not sign. But a few deaf or hard of hearing authors have written books with deaf or hard of hearing characters.

  • Marlee Matlin wrote a trilogy featuring the same deaf girl character. These are for children aged 8 to 12. She wrote Deaf Child Crossing, Nobody’s Perfect, and Leading Ladies. The character learns about herself and friendship with other girls.
  • Kimberly A. Shaw wrote a fantasy book about a hard of hearing girl character, called A Handful of Spells. This is for children aged 8 to 12. The character finds out that she is a witch and learns magic. She fights to learn sign language.
  • Cece Bell wrote a graphic novel, El Deafo. This is for children aged 8 to 12. Her book is a memoir as a deaf girl wearing a phonic ear. Artist David Lasky did the coloration in the pictures. Read a news story about how deaf children react to El Deafo.
  • Ann Clare LeZotte wrote a novel, T4. This is for children aged 8 to 12. A deaf girl living in Germany in 1939 needs to flee from Nazis.
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