Anyone who’s repeatedly been asked “Why?” by a kid knows that those curious little minds can pose some big and complex questions. When it comes to conversations about hearing loss and hearing aids, which can even be difficult conversations for adults to navigate, what’s the best way to include and educate to children?
Introducing kids to the idea of hearing loss and hearing aids can start at a relatively early age. Tailoring conversations about these topics to their age and level of understanding can help children relate to others who live with hearing loss and help them empathize. Books about hearing loss are a useful tool to begin these discussions with your children and grandchildren in an easy, engaging and accessible way. There are relatable books about children living with hearing aids for readers of all ages and abilities. Just as there are all kinds of hearing loss, there are lots of subject matter specialties, too—from books for hearing impaired toddlers to tips for parents with a hearing-impaired child. Here are six of our top picks for books that can help kids understand hearing loss.
Written by Maureen Cassidy Riski and Nikolas Klakow
Illustrated by Polygone, Nicolas Babey
Age range: 4-8
Oliver the Elephant just wants to be able to hear his teachers in class, listen to the TV with his brother and sister and play with his friends at recess. But when he can’t hear them, he’s feeling left out and sad. Oliver’s parents bring him to see an audiologist to be fitted with hearing aids. Once he receives his hearing aids, Oliver is finally able to participate in his favorite activities.
Inspired by Riski’s brother, “Oliver Gets Hearing Aids'' was written to help develop awareness and understanding for both children with hearing loss and their peers. Additionally, the authors hoped to create a resource to reduce anxiety for children who have first been diagnosed with hearing loss.
Written by Jenna Harmke
Illustrated by Toby Mikle
Age range: 4-6
Bessie the Bunny is so excited to start her first day of preschool, only to come home disappointed that she can’t hear her new classmates. Bessie’s parents bring her to the audiologist, who tests her hearing and explains how hearing aids can help her hearing. Once she is fitted with her own devices, Bessie can enjoy all the fun of preschool.
Author Jenna Harmke based “Bessie Needs Hearing Aids” on her own experiences as a child getting hearing aids. Her goal was to help other kids with hearing loss better understand the process and know that they are not alone in their hearing journey. This preschool book about hearing is recommended for children who are getting hearing aids themselves or kids who are just starting to learn about hearing issues.
Written by Gary Clemente
Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Age range: 4-8
Cosmo Pizzatola’s family notices that he’s struggling to hear because he turns up the TV really loud. His mother takes Cosmo to get his ears checked right away and the family learns that he needs hearing aids. Cosmo worries that the kids at school will think he’s different for wearing them and tries to “find” his lost hearing. With the help of his doctor and his family, Cosmo builds up his courage to wear his hearing aids and proudly shares them with his classmates.
This brightly illustrated book prompts the reader with fun questions guessing what Cosmo will do next as he navigates the process of getting hearing aids, making it a uniquely interactive book about hearing loss. “Cosmo Gets an Ear” is a comforting story of overcoming the fear of hearing aids and finding acceptance with others.
Written and illustrated by Cece Bell
Age range: 8-11
Cece’s starting a new school and all she wants to do is make friends. However, she feels different because of her hearing aids and fears the device is scaring off any potential friends. But Cece makes a new discovery: Wearing her “Phonic Ear” means that she can hear her teacher in the classroom, in the hallway and all over the school. Her new hearing aid makes her feel like a superhero; just call her “El Deafo!” Still, Cece wants to put her powers toward finding true friends.
“El Deafo” is a graphic novel based on author Cece Bell’s experience with childhood hearing loss and hearing aids, as well as her own difficulties finding friends. It’s a heartwarming hearing loss book about finding your own personal superpower.
Written and illustrated by Debbie Blackington
Age range: 4-8
Gracie has a daily routine just like every other little girl. The only difference with Gracie is that her ears are asleep. Her mother takes her to see several specialists, who fit Gracie with hearing aids. Gracie quickly finds out that the new tools make her very happy because she can hear the world around her.
Written by the mother of the real-life Gracie, “Gracie’s Ears” introduces the concept of hearing aids to children and demonstrates the positive changes the hearing aids can make for kids who hear differently than some of their peers. This brightly colored picture book about hearing loss is a great tool for children to learn the purpose of hearing aids.
Written and illustrated by Sonya Giridhar
Age range: 2 and up
Sometimes when Simone is at school, the teacher’s voice doesn’t make it all the way to her ears. Anything she says gets mixed up! Despite these challenges, Simone is a “Super Listener” who uses her listening power, her brain power and her FM system to better understand her teacher.
Many hearing loss stories introduce the concept of hearing aids to readers, but books like “Simone” can also discuss the benefits of other kinds of assistive listening devices. This lighthearted book celebrates one child’s ability to navigate a busy environment like the classroom and feel confident with her hearing devices.
Teaching children about the experiences of others is important for developing their sense of empathy. If there are people with hearing loss in their family, among their friends or in the classroom with them, sharing age-appropriate books about hearing loss makes it easier for kids to understand and be a better friend.