Book Review: The William Hoy Story

Written by Nancy Churnin; Pictures by Jez Tuya

By Amanda Elshahawi, Creator, Enchanted Literacy October 16, 2021

Recommended Ages 5 - 9 years

The world series is almost here. As a family, we found that even though we are not avid baseball fans, going to Yankee Stadium to watch a game is still a great experience. The music, food, engaging group mindset rooting for the home team creates an exciting atmosphere to be in. My daughter is just learning the basics of the sport and I find myself learning with her. In our research, we came across the story of William Hoy, a baseball player born in 1862, who is deaf. There is a great picture book written about his life and how he changed the way baseball is played today. 

In this illustrated true story, we meet William Hoy, a boy from Ohio who contracted meningitis resulting in hearing loss at the age of 3. With a love of baseball early on he happily signed with his first professional baseball team in 1886, after graduating college. Though a talented baseball player, William faced difficulties on the field. When up to bat, he was too far away to read the umpire's lips which resulted in poor plays. William decided to make a plan. He drew up different signs on paper he presented them to the Umpire. They created signals for strikes, safe and out! The picture book goes on to share what else William does with his team that not only helped their ability to be inclusive but created opportunities for growth and more enjoyment for the fans. 

This book is packed with words and information while maintaining a balance with bright illustrations bringing to life the late 1800s baseball era. At the end of the story, the author provides more information on William Hoy and a quick reference timeline of his life. There are several points in the story where William is being teased and bullied. This provides a great talking point, you can ask your child to identify how William handled people’s poor behavior towards him, and ways that the situation should have been handled. 

This is a great story to read to help teach your kid not only fun history of baseball, but to expand their education on inclusivity and deaf culture. Let it inspire you to research other sports figures who have a disability, or the American with Disability Act and how it changes the lives of people with disabilities. I also recommend pairing this book with a good old fashion baseball game before the season is over. Or make some caramel popcorn, grab some peanuts and enjoy a picnic outside while you read. You can also take this time to learn some American sign language yourself. There are great resources online to give you a boost!

Amanda is a preschool teacher, mother and avid Central Park picnicker. She values community and is an advocate for families in the foster care system. One day she hopes to publish a children's book of her own. In the meantime, you can follow her Instagram, Enchanted Literacy, which encourages imagination and passion for reading.

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