Finding books, children’s books about disabilities sometimes may feel like finding a needle in a haystack. We love reading stories where we see characters with disabilities be the star of the book.
Often within fiction, when a character with a disability appears, their portrayal is commonly used to further the story and development of the main character only.
Characters with disabilities are seen as someone the main character cares for and used to create sympathy for that character’s frustrations. Or they are pushed to the sidelines and used to be a symbol of ‘motivation’ and ‘inspire’ the main character and further their story.
It’s important to have children’s books about disabilities. These books help with the following:
- Let children with disabilities be able to identify with characters and have their own heroes and role models to look up to.
- Allows kids to see all different types of main characters within a book.
- Helps them break down the stereotype that is often set with children.
Children’s literature should be as inclusive as possible. It should show a variety of family set-ups, different races, religions, and feature characters that aren’t presumed to be the default. Essentially, children’s literature, all literature, should represent and mirror the world so that everyone has the opportunity to find themselves in a book.
We are sharing 7 amazing must-read children’s books about disabilities.
7 Children’s Books about Disabilities
The Christmasaurus By Tom Fletcher
Who doesn’t love Christmas or the snow or the magic that the holiday always seems to bring? Well, musician Tom Fletcher does, and he wrote a brilliant and thrilling tale concerning a young boy called William Trundle. He writes about his subsequent adventure during Christmas time as he discovers the Christmasaurus.
This is a fun middle-grade read. It can be read and enjoyed by any reader of any age. This book features beautiful illustrations and an enchanting narrator. This book is full of joy. It also features a main character who is disabled and uses a wheelchair that is William.
This heartwarming tale explores the meaning of family, friendship and the magic of Christmas with a wild adventure that proves to young children with disabilities that they are just as capable of being the hero of their stories just like William.
Wonder By R.J Palacio
In R.J Palacio’s novel Wonder, we are introduced to August ‘Auggie’ Pullman. August is a boy who was born with a facial deformity caused by Treacher Collins Syndrome. The cranial deformity that Auggie was leads him to be in and out of the hospital. Because of this, his parents want to protect him so they homeschool him.
Wonder follows Auggie and his family as he enters a school environment for the first time. A poignant and compelling novel, it’s hard not to fall in love with Auggie and his family.
Although the book initially begins with Auggie’s point of view, it switches throughout the story. You will see the point of view of his sister, classmates, his sister’s boyfriend, and others which furthers the meaning of connections and family bonds throughout the novel.
Although the beginning of the novel focuses on Auggie and his trepidation, it soon becomes much more than that. As he starts school, it becomes one that shows the importance of acceptance, friendships, and family.
El Deafo By Cece Bell
If you want living proof that individuals with disabilities can be superheroes too then Cece Bell is living proof as she demonstrates in her graphic novel memoir El Deafo. Within her graphic novel. Cece reflects on growing up with a hearing impairment and entering a new school environment.
After being educated in a school where all her classmates were deaf, Cece starts a new school.
She has to wear a giant hearing aid that is strapped to her chest so she can hear her teacher.
At first, it appears that her hearing aid works in repelling her classmates and the opportunity to make friends. Cece soon discovers the superpower that allows her to hear her teachers anywhere in the school. However, it’s not long before Cece channels her newfound superpower towards finding a friend.
A Kind of Spark By Elle McNicoll
Written by Elle McNicoll, an author who identifies as neurodivergent, her children’s book, A Kind of Spark gives an authentic view and representation of what it looks like to be autistic. Elle McNicoll reminds us that as we attempt to diversify ourselves it is essential to always put our own voices first.
Set in a small Scottish town, A Kind of Spark introduces us to 11-year-old Addie. Addie embarks on a campaign to build a memorial in memory of the witch trials which took place in her town. She knows that there is more to the Witches and their stories, just like how there is more to her than the people in her village think.
Out of My Mind By Sharon M. Draper
Within Sharon M Draper’s Out of My Mind, she explores how able-bodied people see and engage with people with disabilities and the effects that it can have.
The novel itself actively challenges the stereotype that those with physical disabilities should automatically be considered to have mental ones too.
Out of My Mind follows Melody, a girl who cannot walk or talk. She goes through life with someone helping her due to having cerebral palsy.
But Melody is incredibly intelligent. She also has a photographic memory. Often it appears that she is smarter than those in charge of her care and treatment.
She’s determined to prove to everyone that her cerebral palsy does not and should not define her and she’s going to make sure that they know it too.
Not If I See You First By Eric Lindstrom
Parker Grant is blind, but she’s not going to let that stop her from living her life. So she decides to create her own rules. The rules are used to protect herself. If someone breaks them, then there are no second chance. Parker doesn’t want to be treated differently because of her blindness and happily asserts her autonomy over her own body.
A brilliant novel that once again challenges the perception of people with disabilities needs constant help and aid in order to go about their everyday lives.
As Parker remarks in the book, “Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.”
Not If I See You First, like the rest of the books on our list, proves that having a disability doesn’t define you who you are.
A Quiet Kind of Thunder By Sara Barnard
Within Sara Barnard’s A Quiet Kind of Thunder, we are introduced to Steffi. She is a girl with selective mutism and Rhys who is deaf. When Rhys moves to Steffi’s school, she is asked to be his buddy due to her knowing BSL (British Sign Language). This leads to them developing a beautiful friendship.
Within this novel, Sara Barnard actively uses and demonstrates the use of BSL to communicate between characters, as Steffi and Rhys primarily interact with one another via BSL.
The story itself proves that even if someone doesn’t have a voice, or if they can’t hear that doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to say or that they can’t be a great listener either.
These 7 children’s books about disabilities are a must-read in today’s world. They are captivating and make you fall in love with each character in the book. What books would you add to the list? Share in the comments below!