Children’s Books with Positive Disability Representation
Reading about people who are different from you lets you imagine, reflect on, and learn about their lives. And sometimes it is good to read about someone who is like you, too!
Celebrate and learn about diverse abilities through great stories. The Disability: Read Up On It! booklist is a collection of children's books featuring positive disability representation, including picture books, novels and nonfiction. Here are seven highlights from the list.
My Ocean is Blue by Darren Lebeuf, illustrated by Ashley Barron
The ocean is many things, and different everyday! A girl with a physical disability explores the seaside with her mom, and shares all the wonderful things she observes about the ocean. This book explores opposites and sensory aspects, and encourages children of all abilities to explore and learn about the world around them.
Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin, illustrated by Sara Woolley
Sometimes the world can be a noisy and overstimulating place. Charlotte often feels this way, and searches for a quiet place where she can be alone with her thoughts. Beautifully illustrated, this book shares the importance of children having a place where they can calm their body and their mind.
Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw, with photographs by Matt Carr
Shane Burcaw was born with a rare disease called spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) that hindered his muscle's growth and his mobility. However, this hasn't stopped him from doing the things he enjoys, sometimes with a little help from friends and family. In this humorous and informative book, Shane shares his experiences growing up with SMA and answers questions about the disease and living with SMA.
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
Based on true events, this heartwarming story shares how a puppy named Rescue trains to become a service dog and is soon paired with a girl named Jessica, who is recovering from an injury to her legs. Although it is not easy for Jessica, who is learning new ways to do things that used to come easily, she is so thankful for her friend Rescue, who helps and supports her every day. The author's note in this book shares more information on the true story of Rescue and Jessica, as well as information on NEADS World Class Service Dogs, who offers a wide spectrum of assistant dog services.
This book is also available in French.
Here’s Hank: Bookmarks Are People Too! by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver, illustrated by Scott Garrett
Hank is in the second grade, and he learns a little differently than most other kids. He's pretty bad at memorizing stuff, and spelling is his worst subject (but so are math and reading!). Hoping to land the lead in the class play, Hank freezes during his audition and is only able to buzz like a fly, inspiring his teacher to create a special role for him as a silent bookmark that saves the show when a rival suffers an attack of stage fright. Bookmarks Are People Too is the first book in the Here's Hank series. All Here's Hank books are written in Dyslexie Font which is designed to help all kids read faster, more easily, and with fewer errors, including children with dyslexia.
Song For a Whale by Lynne Kelly
This heartening novel tells the story of 12-year-old Iris, a tech genius who was born Deaf. Iris often finds herself struggling to communicate with the people around her, no matter how hard she tries. When she learns about Blue-55, a whale unable to communicate with other whales, she knows exactly how this feels. Her passion and intelligence leads her on an exciting journey from Texas to Alaska to help Blue-55. Along the way, she learns that a little determination can make some very big waves.
A Whole New Ballgame: A Rip and Red Story by Phil Bildner, illustrated by Tim Probert
Best friends Rip and Red are excited to start fifth grade and try out for the school basketball team! But with a new and quirky teacher, and many other changes in the school, their school year is not exactly what they expected. There are multiple students with disabilities in this novel. This includes Red, who is on the autism spectrum, and Avery, who uses a wheelchair. Throughout the story themes of friendship, compassion, support and understanding differences are explored in meaningful and heart-warming ways. This book is also great for any child who loves sports and basketball. A Whole New Ballgame is the first book in the Rip and Red series.