3 Stunning Books for Young Readers With Deaf Representation

This week’s Three to Read brings you must-read middle grade and young adult books with Deaf and Hard of Hearing characters from Deaf authors.

Diversity Recommendations Young Adult Young Readers
Give Me a Sign cover by Anna Sortino, Sail Me Away Home cover by Ann Clare LeZotte, and The Whispering Dark cover by Kelly Andrew in front of a field of flowers.

April is National Deaf History Month (NDHM), a celebration initiated by the National Association of the Deaf in 1997 to recognize and commemorate the achievements of Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. NDHM acknowledges the resilience of these individuals by honoring the rich history and culture of the Deaf community.

Thus, in tribute to NDHM, we’re bringing you three incredible middle grade and young adult books with Deaf protagonists in this week’s edition of Three to Read. These stories deliver necessary representation that will help non-deaf readers learn about deafness and how Deaf children see themselves in mainstream literature.


Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

Give Me a Sign cover by Anna Sortino, a young girl and boy speaking in sign language in front of a flowery field.


Lilah doesn’t belong, or at least that’s what it seems like to her — she doesn’t feel “deaf enough” to identify as Deaf, but she also doesn’t feel hearing enough to be who the world wants her to be. However, all that is about to change this summer, as Lilah’s heading to a summer camp for the deaf and blind to be a counselor. There, she plans to practice her ASL and immerse herself in the Deaf community. Upon arrival, she meets Isaac, a heartthrob fellow counselor who offers to help Lilah brush up on her signing. As romance begins to blossom between the two, Lilah realizes she’s in for an unpredictable summer.


As a Deaf author, Anna Sortino has dedicated herself to telling swoon-worthy stories about disabled characters living life to the fullest and falling in love. She has certainly accomplished that in her endearing debut, Give Me a Sign. This young adult novel is a heartfelt coming-of-age story that explores the beauty and diversity of the Deaf community. Here, Sortino presents Deaf culture with nuance and thoughtfulness, reminding readers of the power of self-acceptance and the importance of finding your voice, even if it seems like no one is listening.


Sail Me Away Home by Ann Clare LeZotte

Sail Me Away Home cover by Clare LeZotte, a young woman looking wistfully at a flock of birds flying over the sea.


Mary Lambert, a young teacher on Martha’s Vinyard, feels unmoored and unsettled. So, when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel abroad with a group of missionaries, she can’t refuse. Mary is ecstatic to learn from the gifted instructors at a groundbreaking deaf school in Paris, but she soon realizes that the missionaries’ practices are dubious at best and downright harmful at worst. Is Mary willing to sacrifice her values and the safety of the people she cares about to advance her career?


Ann Clare LeZotte is a Deaf author and an advocate for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, disabled, and marginalized youth. In her latest stand-alone novel, Sail Me Away Home, LeZotte concludes her award-winning Show Me a Sign trilogy, which celebrates Deaf culture by delving into the real history of formal deaf education and Deaf community on Martha’s Vinyard. Perfect for middle grade and young adult readers alike, this story seeks to challenge the way we view ability and disability and deepen our understanding of the Deaf experience.


The Whispering Dark by Kelly Andrew

The Whispering Dark cover by Kelly Andrew, purple flowers with the outline of skulls on the petals.


Delaney Meyers-Petrov resents being seen as fragile just because she’s Deaf. When she’s accepted to Godbole University, a prestigious school that teaches students how to travel between parallel worlds, Delaney is determined to prove herself. But between her unaccommodating professors and her arrogant classmate, Colton Price, Delaney is in for a massive challenge. After a student dies, Delaney and Colton are forced into a reluctant alliance to uncover the university’s dark secrets before more tragedy befalls them.


Ever since she lost her hearing at four years old, Kelly Andrew has been dreaming up stories, including her haunting debut novel, The Whispering Dark. In this young adult paranormal thriller, a Deaf student navigates discrimination, forbidden romance, and a strange connection to the afterlife all while contending with an ancient enemy. Fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House and Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys will devour this atmospheric fantasy about the boundaries between life and death.

That’s it for this week’s Three to Read. Thanks for tuning in! We hope you’ll enjoy our picks. Don’t forget to join us next week for more exciting recommendations!

For more Three to Read recommendations, check back here every Tuesday. To read last week’s article on translated poetry collections, click here.

Browse these books and more reads handpicked by the Bookstr team on our Three to Read bookshelf on Bookshop.