Note: This post is part of a series on School Library Media/Materials for a course

Seeger, P., Dubois Jacobs, P. & Christie, R. G. (illus.) (2006). The deaf musicians. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

From folk singer Pete Seeger we hear the story of Lee, a jazz musician who is losing his ability to hear. Who will listen to the deaf musician? Readers follow Lee as he is forced to leave his band (and the musical life he loves) because of his hearing loss. Lee learns sign language at the school for the deaf, where he meets Max, a saxophone player. Lee and Max meet Rose and Ellie, soon they have an all deaf sign language band, playing night after night on the subway. This story is about overcoming obstacles and turning a seemingly bad thing (deafness) into a new beginning filled with possibilities.

One thing people forget when creating a diverse collection is that diversity extends beyond just race and ethnicity. In addition to race and ethnicity, diverse collections need to include LGBT titles and titles referencing people who are differently-abled. The Deaf Musicians is a good, realistic fiction title to include and use as an introduction to the diversity of persons who are differently-abled. The art supports the jazz theme. I would like to have seen the idea of deafness more deeply explored in the story, but this is not a deal-breaker weakness as the book can serve as a prompt for deeper conversations about deafness and other ability levels.

English/Language Arts Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.6 Distinguish their own point of view from that of the narrator or those of the characters.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting)

Links to supporting content:

Six Modern Deaf Musicians

Wikipedia-Sign Language

Subjects/themes: deafness, ability, overcoming adversity, music

Awards: Schneider Family Book Award, 2007 Young Children’s Book, Children’s Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, Supplement, 2007 H.W. Wilson