Four Titles by d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind Authors to Share During Deaf Awareness Month

The author of the Schneider Family Book Award-winning novel Show Me a Sign recommends four recent releases.


featured image for the booklist

While American Sign Language (ASL) continues to soar in popularity, and hearing ASL interpreters are included in many online children’s literature platforms, d/Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deafblind (DHHDB) authors and illustrators remain scarce. Those published are mainly white, though Black American Sign Language (BASL) has also increased in visibility, if not yet broad acceptance.

Still, there is good news. I’m seeing some diverse, up-and-coming DHHDB authors and receiving calls from families and readers about a spectrum of DHHDB stories. Let’s shine a spotlight on a few recent DHHDB titles during Deaf Awareness Month (September), and all throughout the year!

Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus. illus. by Polly Dunbar. Candlewick. 2020.
PreS-Gr 2–Little Bear feels the vibrations and sees the bright colors of the world around him, but something is missing. He’s puzzled that everyone keeps asking him, “Can bears ski?” Finally, Dad Bear takes him to the audiologist, which is depicted as a positive experience. Little Bear gets Behind-The-Ear (BTE) hearing aids, which he sometimes loses on purpose because his new world is loud. He discovers that "Can bears ski?" is actually "Can you hear me?" Deaf British poet Antrobus says, "It's the book I could see myself reaching for as a child, and I can't wait to have it exist in the world.” Partially deaf illustrator Dunbar’s images embrace the movement of noisiness and silence in her palette.


Crazy for Apples by C. L. Reid. illus. by Elena Aiello. Capstone. 2021.
K-Gr 2–Emma, who is white, has a Cochlear Implant (CI) and she signs. She's headed to the apple orchard in order to pick apples for cooking, but her basket of apples ends up in the mud.This short book is good for beginning and emerging readers, and the apple-picking theme is perfect for fall. Emma’s best friend Izzie Jackson is Black and the Learn to Sign feature at the back of each story features diverse kids. Reid, the author of the fun “Emma Every Day” early reader series, is Deafblind with a CI and is ASL fluent as well.


Unbound: The Life and Art of Judith Scott by Joyce Scott with Brie Spangler. illus. by Melissa Sweet. Knopf. 2021.
Pre-S-Gr 3–This picture book biography about Scott’s twin sister, Judith (1943-2005), is an affecting and effective story about a person with multiple disabilities told by a family member. Joyce and Judy, who are white, were inseparable as children until their parents institutionalized Judy, who was born with Down syndrome. Judy was also deaf, which was not discovered until later in her life. These details, while tragic, are not uncommon. As an adult, Joyce brought her sister to live with her family and enrolled her in an art program; she became a renowned American fiber sculptor. Back matter includes more information and photos of the artist and her work. This work is an unsentimental act of love and as close as young readers may get to knowing Judith Scott.


Black Deaf Lives Matter: A Fun Coloring & Activity Book about Black Deaf Life, History, Culture & Sign Language by Lissa D. Ramirez-Stapleton. illus. Shawn Richardson. Elliott Bay. 2021.
This book honors Black Lives Matter and centers the Black Deaf experience. Young readers learn about Black Deaf role models and historical events. The book includes ASL flashcards and an introduction to Black American Sign Language (BASL). This book was designed to be a fun educational tool that encourages positive self-image. Ramirez-Stapleton’s teaching work focuses on building bridges between Deaf and hearing communities of color. Black Deaf illustrator Richardson brings just the right tone to this interactive work.


Ann Clare LeZotte is the author of the 2021 Schneider Family Book Awad-winning Show Me a Sign and forthcoming companion Set Me Free (both Scholastic). Now a full-time writer, Ann worked for many years as a youth librarian in Gainesville, FL, with a focus on marginalized communities and ASL literacy.   



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