El Deafo

El Deafo 

Cece Bell 

©2014 Cece Bill 

Amulet Books

Founts and Pinnell Level: G

It’s tough to start at a new school, make friends, do well in class, and talk to your crush! Being deaf, Cece faces the extra challenge of feeling different from everyone else.  After Cece discovers that her Phonic Ear gives her a special ability, she declares herself as “El Deafo,” and begins to feel more special.


Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events

Suggested Delivery: Independent Read 3rd, 4th Grade


Scholastic provides a great tool for children which lets them build their own graphic novel scene.  This would help students build upon what they learned through working with this type of text.  Click here to visit Scholastic’s Graphix Comic Builder.

Cece Bell explains through pictures and captions how she was lead to writing  El Deafo at http://www.theguardian.com. This information could serve as a great tool for students to develop schema in relation to the text, which also supports the level of student comprehension. Click here to visit “How I made El Deafo- In Pictures.”

Click here to visit the teaching guide for this graphic novel provided by Amulet Books.

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Vocabulary is an essential part to reading.  One activity which could help students grow their vocabulary alongside of this graphic novel would be to make a word prediction chart. The vocabulary words will be written on the left hand side, with a row for each.  One column in the chart will be a word prediction description, with a prediction picture space where students can draw a picture for what they guess the word might mean.  The next two columns will be a correct definition space and a place to draw a picture defining the word.  The following vocabulary words would be great for this pre-teaching activity:
    • Meningitis: An illness caused by a bacterial virus which can lead to headaches, fevers, and stiffness in the neck.  Long-term results of meningitis could include hearing loss.
    • Gesture: A motion or movement which delivers a message
    • Exaggerated: Intentionally over done or done larger/greater than necessary
    • Ability: Talent or skill to be able to do something
    • Audiology: The study of hearing
    • Exhausting: Very tiring
  • Comprehension is the goal in reading.  It is important to focus on comprehension before, during, and after reading a story.  The following activities can be done throughout the journey a student takes reading this book in order to support the level of comprehension reached:
    • Before reading the story, a great activity for students to develop schema related to the story would be to visit the second resource listed above (Cece Bell’s How I Made El Deafo- In pictures).  After exploring this publication which sets up the story, students can make a prediction for what “El Deafo” might mean.  Giving the students the opportunity to predict what the title of the story means in relation to the schema they develop will excite and engage them prior to the reading of the story.
    • During reading, an activity which will support the comprehension of the students would be to have the students fill out a character chart for Cece.  Giving the students the opportunity to pause during the reading of the story and focus on what they know about the character will prepare them for the further character growth they will see through the end of the novel.  Some questions to focus on include: “What does Cece look like? What is Cece like? What does Cece like to do? What problems does Cece face?”
    • After reading, having students try the resource listed above provided by Scholastic would be a great way to have students conclude their comprehension of the story.  Giving the students the opportunity to design their own graphic scene as an extension to the novel would show how the students comprehended what they read and where they think the story would go if it were to continue.
  • A conclusive writing activity is a great way to wrap up a lesson with students after reading a novel.  Asking students to write a dialogue between themselves and the main character is a great way to have the students show what they understand in terms of the themes, ideas, and character motives. Giving students criteria on what to focus on in the dialogue, not only will they need to hit certain themes/ideas presented in the book, however, they will need to capture the voice of the main character through the dialogue they have written.  This is a great way to represent inferential comprehension.


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