Deaf History Month is here, which is the perfect time to explore the rich collection of literature featuring deaf characters. As we explore stories, it’s good to read diverse and vibrant stories about different people. With that in mind, we’re recommending five fantastic novels featuring deaf characters that explore their stories in unique ways.
You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner features a strong-willed teen who gets kicked out of the Kingston School for the Deaf. She illegally painted and covered up a slur against deaf people on a wall on her school. Afterwards, she is expelled and becomes an outcast at her new school. This book features emojis for facial expressions and illustrations drawn by the author to help illustrate the plight of the protagonist as she adjusts to an environment not welcoming to the deaf.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard deals with similar cultural issues. The main character, Steffi, is a mute and has anxiety issues in public. When a new boy named Rhys shows up to her school, she learns that he is deaf, and she talks to him through sign language since she already knows it. Through their journey, Rhys and Steffi become good friends and eventually fall in love. Bold font and letters portray the sign language in the novel while the surrounding text is description.
Iris, who also happens to be a technological genius, is the only deaf person at her school in Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly. People treat her as unintelligent since she can’t communicate normally like others. Song for a Whale is a journey as Iris tries to come to terms with her disability, paralleled by her building of a contraption to connect with a blue whale who also can’t communicate with its own kind.
Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf features a character named Amelia Winn who becomes deaf following a car accident. She loses everything in her life and begins to adjust with the help of her hearing dog. When she discovers a body near her house, her life is threatened by the series of events that unfolds afterwards.
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly features four characters: Kaori, Gen, Virgil, and Valencia. Valencia is deaf and adores nature. When Virgil is thrown into a well with his pet guinea pig, the other three must embark on a journey to help him. Hello, Universe is about how to form friendships with others who may be different from you, while also showing how each member of the group confronts their unique challenges in their own way.