El Deafo

by Cece Bell
Grade 3-7


In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

Discussion questions from SOMN

  • Discuss in what ways Cece’s childhood is like yours? How is it different?
  • Do you think the portrayals of the main characters in El Deafo are believable or not? Why or why not?
  • What is a memoir, and what are your thoughts on a memoir that is also a graphic novel?
  • On pages 96-98, why doesn’t Cece tell the kids what’s bothering her about the sleepover? Why does she just decide to leave, instead? Discuss situations when students might be uncomfortable relating their feelings and why.
  • Why might authors use animals to represent people? Why do you think that Bell selected rabbits to represent people in her story? Is there a symbolism in Bell’s use of rabbits?

Classroom activities from SOMN

  • Watch this interview with author Cece Bell
  • Have students research and discuss different types of hearing loss and how they’re treated today. How is today’s treatment different from the treatment in the 1970’s? How is it different from the 1870’s? How might it be different in the future?
  • Have students define culture. Conduct an online inquiry into the subject of the deaf culture. Using your results, create a slide show that could be used to educate staff in your school about this issue.