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16 Books Featuring Disability My Family Is Loving Right Now


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Graphics by: Anna Wissler
Graphics by: Anna Wissler

Growing up, I always felt different from the other kids at school. I had to run to a dozen different doctors appointments as I struggled with my health. Having a disability and chronic health issues was looked down upon, so I would try to act as healthy as possible to avoid questions and judgment from other kids (and grown-ups). It wasn’t until I was introduced to other people with disabilities in adulthood that I realized I wasn’t really alone. Our community included others with diverse abilities and health challenges. 

Being a parent with disabilities—and having a child with a developmental disability—has made me very aware of the need for diverse representation. One way to expose my children to stories about disabilities is through books. Here are 16 of my favorite books featuring disabilities to consider reading. 


To Read With Little Kids

By Jane Binnion, Illustrated by Colin Shelbourn
You’re so Clumsy Charley

This quirky picture book features a main character who is neurodivergent and has some learning difficulties. It is perfect for little ones who are just learning about autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia, and ADHD and need a little reassurance that being different is OK.

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By TaLisha Grzyb, Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari
Rolling Through Life With Mommy

As a mom with disabilities, I was immediately drawn to this book because it shows how interabled families function together. It is beautifully illustrated and shows a day in the life of a wheelchair-bound mother through the eyes of her kids.

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By Shane Burcaw, Illustrated by Matt Carr
Not So Different

Shane was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that hinders muscle growth and in turn has stopped his body from growing bigger and stronger. My kids and I love that Shane wrote this book himself and tells his story in a relatable and humorous way that children can enjoy.

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By Jen Malia, Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Too Sticky!

After reading Jen’s piece in the New York Times about her late diagnosis of autism, I immediately had to purchase her book covering the challenges of sensory sensitivities. This book quickly became my eldest’s favorite because he can see himself reflected in nearly every page.

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For Middle-Grade Readers

born just right
By Jordan Reeves
Born Just Right

Jordan Reeves and her mom partner in this inspiring memoir about limb differences that will help other children see that they are perfect just the way they are. I love how she brings humor to her story but is also very honest about her experience trying sports, mentoring other children, and creating her Project Unicorn (a prosthetic that shoots glitter!).

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By Aaron Philip with Tonya Bolden
This Kid Can Fly

Aaron’s memoir digs into his journey from being a baby in Antigua to now a confident artist in New York City. My children and I were touched by his honesty about difficult topics like poverty and his physical disability.

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By Ann CLare LeZotte
Show Me a Sign

Growing up in Martha’s Vineyard, Mary Lambert was always surrounded by others who were deaf like her, but as land disputes continue, she must discover how to save herself from a scientist’s cruel experiments.

This award-winning novel and Amazon Teacher's Pick was a vivid read that weaves in valuable discussions of politics and prejudices the deaf community had and has to face.

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For Young Adults

By Gabrielle Ford with Sarah Thomson
Gabe & Izzy

After Gabe is diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease, she struggles to ignore her bullies. After she gets a dog named Izzy with a similar disorder, she is invited onto Animal Planet and then begins a career as an anti-bullying advocate. This book is a quick read that is easy for children to follow along. As a mom who worries about potential bullies, it was reassuring to hear how resilient Gabrielle was.

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books with disability
By Ariel Henley
A Face for Picasso

Ariel tells a breathtaking story of coming of age with Crouzon syndrome. She does not shy away from difficult and raw language and instead shares her story in her way. It was beautiful to read this exploration of identity, sisterhood, and the work of living.

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finding balance book
By Kati Gardner
Finding Balance

I was immediately drawn in by the two main characters in this fictional tale. Two attendees at Camp Chemo, Jase and Mari, are immediately at odds with each other. Jase wants to move on from his childhood cancer, but everyone can see Mari's scar from surviving cancer—she had an amputation.

The author experienced childhood cancer and amputation, and you can feel the authenticity in the depth of the characters in each page.

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muse and fire
By Heidi Heilig
For a Muse of Fire

Jetta’s family is part of talented shadow players who must hide her skills from a colonizing army. While I love a good YA trilogy, I am also a sucker for bipolar representation that shows a flawed main character who is just trying her best to save her family.

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Edited by Marieke Nijkamp

Unbroken is an anthology that explores disability in fictional stories, but the best part is that it is written from the viewpoint of characters with disabilities by authors with disabilities.

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For Adults

By Keah Brown
The Pretty One

If you are on Twitter, you may know Keah as the creator of the hashtag #DisabledAndCute.

The Pretty One is a collection of essays that share her experience as a Black woman with cerebral palsy in America.

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By Laura Brown
Signs of Attraction

This is a searing love story that shows the strength in differences, written by author Laura Brown, who has been hard of hearing her entire life.

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By Haben Girma

Haben has lived an incredible life. In her memoir, she shares how her parent’s refugee story inspired her to embark on a journey to search for as much knowledge as possible and become the first deaf and blind graduate of Harvard Law School. As a woman with a disability with lofty goals, I was inspired by how Haben used her experiences to fuel her innovation.

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By Nnedi Okorafor
Broken Places & Outer Spaces

Broken Places & Outer Spaces takes us on a journey through the life of an athlete becoming an author on a path of hardship and self-discovery. Nnedi’s story captivates and invigorates the reader with the telling of a surgical mishap costing her her athletic future and throwing her unknowingly into a career of writing.

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15 Inclusive Dolls That Champion Our Differences
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