Monday, 20 April 2015

I Read... El Deafo

The only graphic novel that I read over my Easter break was El Deafo by Cece Bell.  I love picking up a graphic novel because A) it breaks up all of the reading that I do and lets my brain work in a different way B) it lets me get acquainted with some great resources to engage students and C) I can usually read a graphic novel in a night, so it makes me feel like I have accomplished something in a short amount of time.

I loved El Deafo.  It is a book that I think anyone could enjoy, from upper elementary to adult.  I loved the fact that it was about a child who felt different from her peers (in this case, Cece is deaf and feels that her hearing aid sets her apart from the other students), but this difference isn't the focus or the defining feature of the girl.  While Cece has a disability, the focus of her story is her connection with her peers.  Who are her real friends?  Who can she share her secrets with?  Instead of making Cece seem like "the other," Cece feels like any other young girl trying to find her place.  This keeps the graphic novel from feeling preachy or like an after-school special.

Showing students a strong character who learns to see her disability as a strength (wait until you read about El Deafo and her superpowers!) is a fantastic example for anyone to read- whether they live with a disability or not.  I think that this would be a great starting point to a lot of conversations about difference, self-acceptance, and friendship.

Food for thought... what is your favourite graphic novel?  Have you ever taught a graphic novel to your class?  Or, if you are a student, have you ever read a graphic novel in class?  Tell me about your experience.

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