Representations of Disability in Kids’ Lit for Deaf History Month

WITSBooks, Diversity Initiatives, Inside WITS

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By Erin Toale & Ellen Werner

This Deaf History Month (3/13-4/15), WITS celebrates the accomplishments of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. Today, we are sharing resources to bring awareness to representations of disability in kids’ lit so that all members of our community can enjoy reading together! We celebrate Deaf History month annually alongside the anniversary of three key dates for the deaf community:

  • April 15, 1817: The opening of American School for the Deaf, the first public school for the deaf.
  • April 8th, 1864: The founding of Gallaudet University, the world’s first institution devoted to advanced education for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • March 13th, 1988: Gallaudet University chose I. King Jordan as their first deaf President.

Below are a few of our favorite American Sign Language (ASL) readalouds. For more suggestions, visit the American Society for Deaf Children’s ASL Stories Directory.

Comedian Moshe Kasher provides ASL interpretation for the book "Unstoppable Me"
Moshe Kasher signs “Unstoppable Me”
ASL Read-Alouds

The WITS Early Childhood Summer Program (ECSP) curriculum is centered on fairy tales, including different versions of the Three Little Pigs – here is one of our favorites, “The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf” by Mark Teague, in ASL. For more Three Pigs read-alouds and activities, check out ECSP.

“The Day You Begin” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael Lopez features two of our favorite creators of children’s books in one title! We’ve highlighted Woodson and Lopez in several of our blog posts, including one on culturally specific books and children’s books featuring LGBT+ children and families.

“Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak is a favorite of staff and students alike. For Ms. Laurie’s interpretation of “Where the Wild Things Are,” check out WITS’ weekly read-alouds.

Finally, comedian Moshe Kasher posted this read-aloud of “Unstoppable Me” to his social media for #operationaslstorytime. He provides ASL interpretation, while his wife and fellow comedian Natasha Leggero reads out loud. “Unstoppable Me”, written by Adam Dirks and illustrated by Bethany Hamilton Gill Guile, is a book about not giving up even when you’re so scared you want to.

A diverse crowd stands in front of a cityscape holding protest signs saying "justice = peace" and "BLM" on this coloring book cover
The cover of “Black Deaf Lives Matter”
“Black Deaf Lives Matter” Coloring Book

WITS also loves “Black Deaf Lives Matter“, a coloring book written by Dr. Lissa Ramirez and illustrated by Shawn Richardson. For more of Richardson’s work visit Shawn Richardson Illustration & Design. For more great recommendations of representations of disability in kids’ lit, check out the Instagram account @noodlenutskidsbooks.