Welcome to September’s NurtureStore Tween Book Club where we are reading and learning about El Deafo by Cece Bell.
How to join the El Deafo book club discussion
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I’m running a real-life tween book club with my daughters and some of their home-educating friends. We’re meeting in a local cafe to chat about the book and share our opinions. You can join in with us online, here in the comments and on Instagram using #nurturestorebookclub.
With a range of ages in our book club we have children with different levels of reading confidence, so we’re starting with a choice that I think everyone will find easily accessible. We have some great artists in our club too who I think will enjoy the abundance of illustrations. In El Deafo, Bell shares her experiences of hearing loss as a child and the subsequent hearing aid which she uses, called the Phonic Ear. Like all middle-school aged kids, she just wants to find her place in her class group, and the book explores the challenges of being different and discovering your inner super powers.
All the children joining in are asked to:
:: read the book
:: consider the discussion questions (which you will find below, including a printable version)
:: share their opinions on the book and the discussion questions, and listen to each others’
:: bring along something to the group that they have produced, inspired by the book, to share with the others, so we are all teaching and learning from each other. It could be some fan fiction, art, a map, a recipe, a costume, a zine, research about the book’s setting, a quiz, a film of them acting out a scene, anything goes! This encourages everyone to take the book further, and explore an aspect of it that interests them. If you’re joining in online please share your creation with us in the comments, or on Instagram using #nurturestorebookclub.
The main page for NurtureStore’s Tween Book Club, with the annual book list and guide to running a book club with children is here.
El Deafo discussion questions
Here are some discussion questions you can use to talk about the topics raised in El Deafo. If you are joining in with our online book club, use the comments below to share your answers. You can also find a printable version of these discussion questions here.
1 :: What did you think of the format and look the book? Have you read any other graphic novels?
2 :: How does Cece use pictures to show her experience?
3 :: This book is an autobiography: a story of a person’s life written by the person themselves. What are some of the risks when you are writing about yourself? What are some of the challenges when you are writing about other real people?
4 :: At first, in chapter one, Cece she doesn’t know she is deaf. Do you think her parents should have told her? Should parents always tell their children if they have a disability, difference, condition or illness?
5 :: On page 81, Cece is surprised when she sees someone who is deaf in a TV programme. Do the TV programmes you watch show a diverse range of people? Can you think of a TV/book character who is deaf, or blind, or in a wheelchair, or who has a skin colour different to you, or is from a different country to where you live, or is a different religion to you, or uses a hearing aid, or wears glasses, or uses a walking stick, or speaks with a stammer, or is autistic, or is from a family with one parent, or from a family with two mums or two dads? Do you think TV programmes and books should have a diverse range of actors and characters? Why?
6 :: On the back cover of the book you can read the blurb. Imagine it’s your job to write the blurb for El Deafo: what would you write? How important is the blurb? What’s it for?
7 :: If you could have a super phonic ear that let you listen in to anyone’s conversation, who would you want to listen in to?
8 :: If you could pick a different super power to have, what would you pick?
9 :: How much do you care what other people think of you? Is it good to care? Is it bad to care?
10 :: If you were/are deaf, would you rather go to a school with only other children who are deaf, like Cece does in chapter three when she first starts school, or to a mixed school like Cece does later in the book?
11 :: Read ‘A note from the author’ at the end of the book. Can you imagine what it might be like to be deaf? What would be different for you?
12 :: If you were deaf, would you want to describe yourself as a person who is deaf, a deaf person, or a Deaf person. If you are deaf, which one do you prefer to use to describe yourself? Do you think these little, subtle differences in our language are important? Why? Why not? Who do you think should get to decide on the phrase to use?
Join the book club discussion
3 :: And share your answers with us in the comments.
Extra El Deafo resources
Here are some extra resources you can use to learn about El Deafo.
:: Visit Cece Bell’s website.
:: Watch Cece Bell talk about El Deafo:
:: See how Cece Bell made the book here. <- this one’s my favourite!
:: Test your knowledge of the book with the El Deafo Quiz at goodreads.
:: Try this lipreading
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