Diverse Reads Deaf Culture

The value of written language is immense in any culture. But what if your culture doesn’t have a written system? In fact, about half of the world’s languages have no written form today. Deaf culture uses sign languages as their primary means of communication, but many members of Deaf culture don’t know sign language.

No culture deserves to be neglected or underrepresented because of its written form (or lack thereof). It is especially important for children to learn about cultures different from their own, and to see their own minority cultures reflected back at them in literature. Below is a list of books that feature individuals from Deaf culture, with a focus on literature for children.

This post is the fourth installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews. 

11.20 Hello UniverseHELLO, UNIVERSE
By Erin Entrada Kelly
(2017)

Valencia finds herself thrown together with her classmates on a summer day in this Newbery Medal-winning novel. Like many deaf and Hard of Hearing kids, Valencia doesn’t know any sign language, and she wears hearing aids that don’t work well with loud background noise. Her self-confidence and perseverance give readers someone to root for. 

 

11.20 She Touched the WorldSHE TOUCHED THE WORLD 
By Sally Hobart Alexander and Robert Alexander
(2008)

At age two, Laura Bridgman lost her sight, hearing, smell, and taste. At the country’s first school for the blind, Bridgman paved the way for future generations of children with disabilities, making possible important advances in the way they would be educated long before the likes of Louis Braille and Helen Keller. 

 

11.20 Song for a WhaleSONG FOR A WHALE 
By Lynne Kelly
(2019)

An amazing Deaf character named Iris lives in a world where her intelligence isn’t recognized in her home nor at her school. Her loneliness is reflected in her attempts to reach Blue 55, a whale who cannot communicate with its own kind. Iris and her Deaf grandmother communicate via sign language, which is especially rare in children’s literature. 

 

11.20 WonderstruckWONDERSTRUCK 
By Brian Selznick
(2011)

The stories of two deaf children who were born 50 years apart: Ben’s story is told in words, while Rose’s in pictures. This work is a unique attempt to track the changes to Deaf culture in America through stunning illustrations. 

 

11.20 You Dont Know Everything Jilly PYOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING, JILLY P!
By Alex Gino
(2018)

When her new baby sister is born deaf, Jilly makes an online connection with a fellow fantasy fan, who happens to be black and Deaf, and begins to learn about the many obstacles that exist in the world for people who are different from her.

 

 Woods

As any intrepid hiker knows, there is one thing all adventurers need to keep an eye open for while exploring in nature – the creature known as Bigfoot. You may be thinking that in Utah we don’t need to worry about Bigfoot, after all, most reported Bigfoot sightings have occurred in Washington state and California. You may be thinking that there are bigger threats in nature than the largely unknown cryptid. You might even be thinking, “There’s no such thing as Bigfoot.” But for the true believers, there is no better time to learning about sasquatch than in your childhood. Here are some good reads to get you started, just in time for hiking and camping season.

11.18 LemonsLEMONS
By Melissa Savage
(2017)

After her mother dies, Lemonade Liberty Witt is sent to live with a grandfather she’s never met in Willow Creek, California – Bigfoot Capital of the World. She’s sure that she’ll be able to move back to San Francisco to live with her teacher Miss Cotton soon, and so Lem doesn’t bother to try to make friends in her new, weird town. Especially not with Tobin, her neighbor and the president and founder of Bigfoot Detectives Inc. Reluctantly, though, Lem agrees to help Tobin hunt for the elusive Bigfoot. This is a humorous and heartwarming read for Bigfoot believers and deniers.

 

11.18 BigfootBIGFOOT
By Erin Peabody
(2017)

Let’s dive into the big question – does Bigfoot exist? For young cryptozoologists, this book is the best place to start. This middle grade informational title explores the legend of Bigfoot from all angles – explaining famous sightings, big hoaxes, and the mythological roots of the creature. With an easy-to-read narrative, plenty of elementary school humor, and black and white illustrations, young Bigfoot hunters will eat this book alive.   

 

11.18 Bigfoot goes on vacationBIGFOOT GOES ON VACATION: A SPECTACULAR SEEK AND FIND CHALLENGE FOR ALL AGES!
By D.L. Miller
(2018)

If you stop and think about it, hunting for Bigfoot is sort of like LARPing a Seek and Find book. So what better way to get in the Bigfoot spirit than with a book full of seek-and-find challenges featuring our favorite monster on vacation all over the world? And, if you’re dying to be on vacation, this book also includes fun facts about vacation destinations to help transport you. Be sure to also check out BIGFOOT GOES BACK IN TIME

 

11.18 Elwood BigfootELWOOD BIGFOOT: WANTED, BIRDIE FRIENDS!
By Jill Esbaum
(2015)

Did you ever stop to wonder if maybe we got it all wrong? Maybe Bigfoot is out there – and maybe he also just wants to be your friend. Elwood Bigfoot is three things – he is very big, very loud, and very lonely. All he wants is to befriend the little birdies who come near is cave, but whenever he tries to ask them to “STAY!” they fly away frightened. Elwood tries everything before realizing that his BIG personality might be scaring the birds away. You’ve never seen a cuter Bigfoot than Elwood, or had a better way to get your littles hooked on Bigfoot.

 

Cooking 

I used to think I loved baking, but that I wasn’t that into cooking. A gorgeously decorated cake piled high with fresh buttercream, or a pie with the most perfect flaky crust—those were the bakes I dreamt of making. I didn’t think cooking was awful—I just didn’t crave it the way I did baking. Every single episode of The Great British Baking Show has made me cry, and not just because it’s the most wholesome competition show ever. I’m just really invested in how a bake turns out.

But a girl can’t survive on baking alone. Cooking is a necessity. And after a few years of doing it grudgingly, I decided I needed to get excited about making dinner. So, I put Chrissy Teigen’s first cookbook on my wedding registry, and someone bought it for me. I wanted it because, based on her social media persona, I thought it might make cooking a little more fun. I made a few recipes, I realized I wasn’t dreading making dinner anymore. Then I made a few more. After a few months of this, I was expanding into other cookbooks. I was actually getting really excited to make dinner and try out a new recipe.

I think it was a combination of using celebrity cookbooks, realizing a cookbook is just another book but about food, and that there are some tricks to cooking that make it more fun, that helped me find a new love in cooking. And now, I don’t even need to hear a celebrity endorsement to want a cookbook! Here are just some of the celebrity cookbooks that used their famous faces to make me love cooking.  

11.16 CravingsCRAVINGS: RECIPES FOR ALL THE FOOD YOU WANT TO EAT
By Chrissy Teigen
(2016) 

The one that started it all. Teigen is funny and relatable, despite her fame. And these recipes are seriously good. I’ve liked every one I’ve tried, which is a pretty good track record. And if you don’t trust my opinions, trust the fact that it’s got 4.7 stars on Amazon. Recipes to try: the cheesy jalapeño bacon cornbread is the perfect side for any chili recipe, and the sweet potato gnocchi is life-changing.  

 

11.16 Antoni in the KitchenANTONI IN THE KITCHEN
By Antoni Porowski
(2019) 

This might be the only cookbook I’ve ever preordered. As soon as I learned Antoni was publishing a cookbook, I hit purchase. On TV, he’s got such a laid-back approach to food, making it accessible and fun for people who’ve never cooked for themselves. Eating shouldn’t be stressful, even if you’re making something new and complex. Food should be enjoyed, and it should be enjoyed with those you love. Recipe to try: there’s a pasta recipe with lemon, fennel, and sausage in here that made my husband propose to me again.  

 

11.16 Magnolia TableMAGNOLIA TABLE: A COLLECTION OF RECIPES FOR GATHERING
By Joanna Gaines
(2018) 

Let’s be realistic. We all sort of wish we were Joanna Gaines. The woman has made a career out of having great taste and working hard, and I think that’s something we can all aspire to. Her cookbook is filled with really well-done basics, and some fun recipes with more complexity. But all of them are sure to fill your belly and make you happy. Recipes to try: her biscuits are perfectly buttery and delicious, and her white cheddar bisque is like eating fondue but in soup form.  

 

11.16 Cravings Hungry for MoreCRAVINGS. HUNGRY FOR MORE
By Chrissy Teigen
(2018) 

She’s back! With another incredible cookbook, Chrissy Teigen has really made her mark on the world of food. I can’t choose a favorite between her two cookbooks, because both are filled with all kinds of interesting and delicious foods. Recipe to try: The blueberry pancakes in this book have cream cheese bombs in them, which make them well worth waking up early for. 

 

Bonus tip: If you prep every single possible ingredient before starting the actual cooking process, your feelings about cooking might change. Except when making pasta. Start the pasta cooking first, always. But seriously, put all your spices into little bowls, chop the herbs, measure out the broths and stocks. It makes everything go smoothly, and you’ll feel like you have your own cooking show.

 

Neurodiversity

Not all apples are the same.

Some are red, some are green, some are yellow, and some have multiple colors. Some are sweet, some are tart, some are juicy, some are snappy. Some are best for baking, others for juicing, and still others for salads or snacking. Different varieties bloom at different points in the year, and apples come in all sizes. It would be ridiculous to say that an apple is defective or abnormal just because it isn’t a Granny Smith; not all apples are the same.

And not all brains are the same.

We view the world from different points of view, influenced by our genetics and our environment. Some of the differences in human brains have special names like autism and dyslexia. But these differences aren’t abnormalities or defects. They’re simply variations of the human brain; not all brains are the same.

Representation in literature helps readers feel valued and appreciated in their community. It’s especially critical that we help our children learn this concept and embrace everyone. Below is a list of books that were written recently by or about neurodiverse individuals, with a special emphasis given to children’s literature.

This post is the third installment of Diverse Reads, a series that gathers books with diverse characters or authors: people who are LGBTQIA+, Native, people of color, gender diverse, people with disabilities, or ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities. I hope that these books help open a window for you into other worldviews.

11.13 A Friend for HenryA FRIEND FOR HENRY 
By Jenn Bailey
(2019)

Henry appreciates people who are quiet, share his sense of orderliness, and won’t invade his personal space. He would like to find a friend at school, but making friends can be difficult. Despite his efforts that are sometimes misinterpreted, Henry keeps trying and finds a friend he can play with.

 

11.13 Not If I Can Help ItNOT IF I CAN HELP IT 
By Carolyn Mackler
(2019)

Eleven-year-old Willa tries to keep her sensory processing disorder hidden from her friends at school. With her large network of adult support, she gradually gains the confidences to be unapologetically herself.

 

11.13 The Truth as Told to Mason ButtleTHE TRUTH AS TOLD BY MASON BUTTLE 
By Leslie Connor
(2018)

Mason, a seventh-grade boy with severe dyslexia, survives bullying and finds a way to finally reveal the truth about what happened the day his best friend died.

 

11.13 State of GraceTHE STATE OF GRACE 
By Rachael Lucas
(2018)

Grace, a 15-year-old with Asperger’s, does her best to avoid attention of any kind. But when Gabe kisses her at a party, nothing is quite the same. Grace honestly articulates her meltdowns and gaffes in this first-person narrative.

 

11.13 The Bride TestTHE BRIDE TEST 
By Helen Hoang
(2019)

Khai Diep processes emotions differently because of his autism. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

 

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