4 out of 4 stars
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Super Kena is a children’s book, written by Becky Cymbaluk and illustrated by Zuzana Svobodová, which tells the story of a little girl with a hearing loss. After Kena has a bad day at school when the other children tease her for her hearing aids, her mother explains to her that they tease her because they just don’t understand the importance of Kena’s hearing aids. Those hearing aids give her ears super powers! The two of them point out differences in some of the other students, and Kena gets the idea to start a team of super heroes.
A variety of children who are “differently-abled” are featured within this book, but the main character with hearing aids resonated strongly with me. As a speech-language pathologist, I’ve known for years that deaf and hard of hearing children are extremely underrepresented in children’s books, and it’s great to point out to children (and even some adults) that people who wear hearing aids can still hear and speak just like everyone else.
I absolutely adored this story, and I can’t wait to share it with colleagues and students. The characters are fun and diverse, and the story is quick but also powerful. Additionally, the illustrations are amazing, with bright, eye-catching colors. I love it when the illustrations in children’s books are just as important to the story as the words, because it opens up the appropriate age range for readers. Preschoolers would love having parents or teachers read this book to them just as easily as young primary school children would enjoy reading it for themselves.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that this book would appeal to children over age 10, which is right around the age when children really start to notice and tease other children about differences. Perhaps if we introduced children to books like these earlier in life, we wouldn’t have to deal with teasing in later years. I personally know a young man who could have used this book a few years ago, before he entered middle school and had to deal with the harsh words of other children who haven’t been properly taught how to treat others with differences.
I gladly give this wonderful children’s book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. There is absolutely nothing about the book that I disliked. It’s a powerful story with a message that can benefit all of us. Parents and teachers of preschool and primary school children will enjoy sharing this book with their students, and I strongly believe that this book should become required reading for all households.
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