CECH Library Spotlight: Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

This book was purchased with funding provided by a 2024 CECH Diversity Grant and selected using the Framework for Selecting Children’s Literature With d/Deaf Representation created by Emma Kist’s ASL 2003 students.

Give Me a Sign / written by Anna Sortino (2023)

Anna Sortino’s summer camp contemporary romance Give Me a Sign will pull at your heartstrings the entire read, while also leaving you giddy with what is to come next. 

This novel follows Lilah, a seventeen-year-old who happens to be deaf in one ear. All her life, her parents encouraged her along the oral route, where she got hearing aids and took years of speech classes to blend in with those around her. To Lilah, the only time she’s ever felt seen is when she attended Camp Gray Wolf, a summer camp for the Deaf and Blind. So, when she gets the opportunity to be a junior counselor for the upcoming summer, Lilah can’t say no. Throughout the summer, Lilah immerses herself in Deaf* culture, American Sign Language, true friendship, and romance. But she still has some things to learn about herself, and parts of her identity to come to terms with. 

Give Me a Sign is more than just a fun, summer romance. It shines a much-needed light on the spectrum of Deafness*, the importance of accommodations, the negative aspects of having a disability, and the struggle of accepting one’s identity. One of the biggest topics that carries throughout is the idea of ‘being Deaf enough’. Lilah struggles with this as she is surrounded by people who are fluent in ASL, who are more immersed in the culture, who are from a multi-generational Deaf family. 

Early on we are introduced to Lilah’s brother, Max, who happens to have the same type of deafness, though slightly more advanced. Max acts as a foil to Lilah, being shown to prefer the oral route to Lilah’s manual preference. Max’s character helps open the discussion of hearing devices like hearing aids and cochlear implants, which are often given to young children in hopes of integrating them into the hearing world more easily. Sortino’s novel examines so many hard-hitting topics that impact the Deaf* community such as hearing people using ASL for clout or even faking disabilities when it is convenient.

There is a quote from Sortino’s author’s note that I felt extremely poignant: “I simply hope [my novel] gives readers a glance into the depth and complexities of Deaf culture, as well as an understanding of why I and so many others are proud to be Deaf”. This novel shines a light on the ups and downs of Deafness* and basks in the pride it has for the Deaf* community. 

This book is available for checkout in the CECH Library, as well as via the OhioLINK and SearchOhio lending networks.

NOTE: In alignment with the UC ASL/Deaf studies department, I use Deaf* above to include and acknowledge the different cultures and ways of being Deaf.

Review by Alice Somers, CECH Library Student Assistant | Early Childhood Education and Deaf Studies, CECH 2026

CECH Library Spotlight: Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed

CECH Spotlight highlights recommended books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

Hollow Fires / written by Samira Ahmed / 2022

CW: Islamophobia (Graphic), Racism (Graphic), Murder, Neo-Nazism (Graphic), Xenophobia, Racial Slurs, White Supremacy (Graphic)

Samira Ahmed’s contemporary thriller Hollow Fires switches between two narratives: Jawad Ali, a middle schooler who loves to invent, and Safiya Mirza, a senior with a passion for journalism. Nothing connects the two, but to the rest of their Chicago neighborhood, they’re one in the same as they practice the same religion: Islam. 

It starts with Jawad being labeled a terrorist over his Halloween costume, then his disappearance, then his murder. Safiya follows his story closely, as her majority-white school district sweeps the incident under the rug like it’s nothing. But when she starts receiving threats like Jawad did, it’s up to her and her friends to investigate, since the school and police don’t seem to care. 

Throughout her novel, Ahmed includes multimedia pieces such as interviews, text messages, articles, and transcripts to emphasis the message. By not just jumping between Jawad (after he’s passed) and Safiya’s perspectives the novel also utilizes the literary technique of being a “frame story,” where it begins at the end and then takes readers on the journey to the end. Ahmed brings nonfiction into her novel, using real life circumstances and recent history to guide the haunting truth of Islamophobia and racism in American society in the 21st century.

Ahmed tackles modern issues within America, and this novel can be graphic in its realistic portrayal of these actions. This novel is a fantastic read, but it does tackle very heavy subjects so please read up on the content warning (CW) before reading. 

This book is available from the CECH Library and the Search Ohio lending network.

Review by Alice Somers, CECH Library Student Assistant | Early Childhood Education and Deaf Studies, CECH 2026

Selecting Books and Materials About Native Peoples for Your Library or Classroom with Dr. Debbie Reese — Free Zoom lecture


Societal changes in recent years have been unsettling to people who seek accurate and authentic materials for their libraries and classrooms. What should be added to the shelves? And, what should be set aside?

Join the College of Education, Criminal Justice and Human Services (CECH) Library for an evening with Dr. Debbie Reese, noted children’s literature scholar, former classroom teacher, and founder/co-editor of the American Indians in Children’s Literature blog. Dr. Reese will offer suggestions on how to move forward — with confidence. This dynamic lecture will be centered on children’s and young adult books and materials about Native peoples.

Tribally enrolled at Nambé Pueblo, Dr. Debbie Reese has studied representations of Native peoples in children’s and young adult books for over 30 years. Her book chapters, journal articles, and professional writings are taught in education, library science, and English courses across the United States and Canada. Her blog is widely recognized as a go-to resource for writers, reviewers, editors, teachers, librarians, and parents.

Date/time: Thursday, October 20th @ 6:30pm via Zoom

Use our RSVP form to register today!

This lecture is sponsored by the Kretschmer Fund for Native American Children’s Literature.

Subscribe to New Children’s Books at CECH Library

image of new books blog

The CECH Library has a collection unlike any other at UC Libraries, including thousands of children’s and young adult books. Now you can subscribe to keep up with the latest additions to our library!

From the Children’s and Young Adult Literature LibGuide, visit our new books blogs based on the category you’re interested in. The blogs are updated each time CECH Library gets new books. By subscribing to updates, you’ll get an email every time we add new books in the following categories: picturebooks, juvenile fiction, YA fiction, informational, and Native American authors and illustrators. Subscribe today so you’ll never miss a new addition to the collection.

Written by Madeleine Gaiser, Online Learning and Instruction Specialist | CECH Library

New Book Spotlight: The Magic Fish

The New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library.

The Magic Fish / written and illustrated by Trung Le Nguyen

As the son of refugee parents from Vietnam, Tiến doesn’t know how to tell his mom that he is gay and worries that she won’t accept and love him anymore. Not only that, but he struggles to find the right words in Vietnamese. On the other hand, Tiến’s mother, Hiền, experiences her own journey of wondering if immigrating to America was worth leaving her family in Vietnam behind and if she’s to blame for the disconnect between her and Tien. 

Trung Le Nguyen’s The Magic Fish takes an unconventional approach to graphic novel storytelling by sharing fascinating fairytales and intertwining them with Tiến’s and his mother’s journey with vibrant colors and pictures that immediately draws readers in. Although not all readers will directly relate to Tiến’s or his mother’s story, it will surely take you on an emotional journey that might just encourage you to reflect on your own personal journeys. 

The Magic Fish is available from the CECH Library, as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks. 

Review by Alexis Parker, CECH Library Student Assistant | Public Relations and International Affairs, A&S 2024 

Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride at CECH Library

The CECH Library is a proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ communities and a safe space for all.

Check out our pride window display this month outside the CECH Library in 300 Teachers-Dyer Complex. In addition to hundreds of hanging colored paper hearts, the display features quotes from LGBTQIA+ activists including Harvey Milk, Audre Lorde, and Marsha P. Johnson.  

We have also put together a reading list of LGBTQIA+ children’s, teen, and YA booksAll of these books are available at the CECH Library and can be requested by visiting your library record. 

Haley Shaw, Temporary Librarian
CECH Library

Read AAPI: Asian American Pacific Islander Month

collage of book covers

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Month. To celebrate, the CECH Library has created a list of books by AAPI authors.  

Update: The use of the term #OwnVoices has been discontinued by We Need Diverse Books and the booklist below has been updated to reflect that. #OwnVoices has been used by many publishers/bookstores as catch all for diverse authors and illustrators, making it a vague term that hides the diverse identities of the authors and the book characters from the narrative. Why We Need Diverse Books Is No Longer Using the Term #OwnVoices.

What makes a book Own Voices? 

An Own Voices book is one that is written by an author that is part of an under-represented group that features characters that are also part of that group. For example, if an author is part of the LGBTQ+ community and they write about a character that is also part of the LGBTQ+ community then that book is an Own Voices book. 

#OwnVoices was created by Corinne Duyvisa young adult author and co-founder of Disability in Kidlit. She created the hashtag to shardiverse children’s literature.  

Why are Own Voices books important? 

Own Voices books amplifdiverse voices and provide necessary and important representation on our shelvesWhen book authors identify with the same group as their characters, they are more likely to have accurate and nuanced portrayals of that group than an author who is an outsider. Own Voices books are also less likely to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. 

How can I find Own Voices books? 

Many libraries, bookstores, and publishers develop Own Voices book lists. You can also search for #OwnVoices on social media to find reviews and book lists.  CECH Library’s AAPI book list is also available via our Children’s and Young Adult Literature LibGuide.

Interested in learning more? 

Post and book list by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian

Read Before You Watch: Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Read Before You Watch highlights books in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library coming soon to TV screens or movie theaters.

Shadow & Bone / written by Leigh Bardugo / 2012

In this New York Times bestselling young adult fantasy, Shadow & Bone tells the story of young Alina Starkov as she discovers that she possesses a power with the ability to defeat the darkness of the shadow fold and unite the two sides of her country. Ravka, torn by years of dark power, sees Alina as she suddenly becomes the most important person within the country. All eyes are on her as she is taken by the Darkling, the most powerful Grisha in the kingdom, to the Little Palace for training.

Shadow & Bone is an excellent entryway for young readers interested in fantasy. A light yet gripping read, it draws the reader in an encapsulating universe and a fiery love triangle. Bardugo’s ability to create an engaging and original storyline grips you until the very last page as you take a dive into the Grishaverse. Shadow & Bone is a must read for lovers of fantasy and strong female leads!

Check out Shadow & Bone today at the CECH Library and read the series before it debuts on Netflix this spring!

Shadow & Bone is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022

Read Across America: Telling American Stories

Read Across America Day is celebrated every year on March 2. It is a literacy program that was launched in 1998 to celebrate the joy, fun, and adventure of reading. It was also originally a celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday.

During the 2019-20 school year Read Across America rebranded to better reflect the diverse demographics of public schools in the United States. Their updated mission to “Celebrate a Nation of Diverse Readers” includes year-round programming and themes that focus on diversity and inclusion.

The CECH Library created this list of books from our children’s and young adult literature collections that represent stories of America. This list includes stories of Indigenous peoples, Black Americans, and immigrants, as well as stories of Appalachia and various time periods in American history.

Additional Resources

Visit the display in the CECH Library through March or check out our recommended reading list via the Children’s and Young Adult Literature guide.

Post and book list by Haley Shaw, CECH Temporary Librarian

New Book Spotlight: Lovely War by Julie Berry

book cover lovely war by julie berryThe New Book Spotlight highlights new-to-us titles in the the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) Library

Lovely War / written by Julie Berry / 2019

A mix of historical fiction, romance, and mythology, Lovely War sees Greek Gods narrating an emotional story of two relationships, two wars, and the power of love. Accused of unfaithfulness by Hephaestus, Aphrodite has the chance to avoid trial by the Gods and tell the story of four mortals during WWI and the transcendence of love. It tells the story of James, a young British man drafted to serve in the army in France, falling for Hazel, a young and hopeful pianist. It also spans the story of Aubrey, a black soldier and ragtime pianist with Colette, a singer from Belgium who lost her family in Dinant. Showing perspectives on racism, sexism, mental health issues, and the tragic nature of war, Berry does an excellent job in incorporating the historical aspect during the time period, as well as the heart-wrenching circumstances young adults faced during the time. Topping my favorite books of 2020, Lovely War was an excellent and timeless read, showing the importance of hope, humanity, and friendship perfect for any young reader.

Lovely War is available from CECH Library,  as well as the OhioLINK and Search Ohio lending networks.

Review by Alyssa Gruich, CECH Library Student Assistant | Political Science, A&S 2022