Books & Beyond

Disability Visibility

By Anna B., Isaac F., Lisa T.
March 4, 2022

We’ve gathered together books for different ages that feature young people with disabilities. Many are memoirs or fiction that draw upon the authors’ own experiences.  We hope you find books here to share with your family that can serve as mirrors for children with disabilities and doorways to deepen understanding and empathy for all. If you have a recent title to recommend for this list, we’d love to hear from you.

Picture Books

Can Bears Ski? / Raymond Antrobus ; illustrated by Polly Dunbar.

Dad Bear takes Little Bear to see an audiologist and they learn that Little Bear has been experiencing deafness.

Best Day Ever / Marilyn Singer; illustrated by Leah Nixon

A sweet dog-loves-kid/kid-loves-dog story, in which the kid uses a wheelchair, from an award-winning children’s poet and talented debut illustrator.

Awesomely Emma / Amy Webb; illustrated by Merrilee Liddiard

Emma calls on her inner sense of awesome to stand up for herself and teach her friend Charley how to feel comfortable in his own skin.

I Talk Like a River / Jordan Scott ; illustrated by Sydney Smith.

A child with a speech impairment finds new ways to communicate and overcome isolation by reconnecting with nature alongside a loving parent.

Different: A Great Thing to Be/ Heather Avis; illustrated by Sarah Mesinga

Illustrations and rhyming text introduce Macy, whose conduct and bearing point to a kinder world where differences are celebrated and embraced.

I Will Dance / Nancy Bo Flood; illustrated by Julianna Swaney.

Eva’s cerebral palsy makes it difficult for her to do many things, but she longs to dance and, finally, her dream is realized.

This Beach is Loud / Samantha Cotterill.

A sensitive child on the autism spectrum is overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a crowded beach until their parent offers some creative ways to manage.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You / Sonia Sotomayor ; illustrated by Rafael López.

Differently abled kids use their strengths to plant plant a garden together.

Chapter Books

Layla and the Bots: Built for Speed / Vicky Fang

Layla and the Bots are eager for Blossom Valley’s upcoming go-kart race, but one racer, Tina, needs their help to build a cart with hand-controls and other special features.

Alicia Alonso Takes the Stage / Nancy Ohlin; illustrated by Josefina Preumayr.

Based on the life of Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso, Alicia, moves to the U.S. at 10 years old to pursue a dancing career before her dreams are threatened by advancing blindness.

Out of My Heart / Sharon Draper

Because she loves horses but is scared of them, Melody wants to conquer her fears, so she hopes a summer camp will be the place to welcome someone with cerebral palsy who wants to learn to ride.

Bear / Ben Queen; illustrated by Joe Todd-Stanton.

Bear, a service dog for the blind who suddenly loses his vision, learns to tap into his other senses and begins to see the world from a new perspective.

Roll with it / Jamie Sumner.

Twelve-year-old Ellie, who has cerebral palsy, finds her life transformed when she moves with her mother to small-town Oklahoma to help care for her grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

Get a Grip Vivy Cohen / Sarah Kapit.

Eleven-year-old pitcher Vivy Cohen, who has autism, becomes pen pals with her favorite Major League baseball player after writing a letter to him as an assignment for her social skills class.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle / Leslie Connor.

Mason, who has learning disabilities and is relentlessly targeted by neighborhood bullies, is grieving the death of his best friend. He creates an underground haven with his friend Calvin, but when Calvin goes missing Mason finds himself in trouble.

Song for a Whale / Lynne Kelly.

Frustrated by the communication challenges of the hearing world as her school’s only hearing-impaired student, a 12-year-old electronics whiz uses her tech skills to help a whale that has lost its ability to communicate.

Show Me a Sign / Clare Ann LeZotte.

It is 1805 and Mary Lambert has always felt safe among the deaf community of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard where practically everyone communicates in a shared sign language until a “scientist” determined to discover the origins of the islands’ widespread deafness arrives.

Each Tiny Spark / Pablo Cartaya.

Sixth-grader Emilia Torres struggles with ADHD and finds her world further complicated when her father returns from deployment and shuts himself away from the family.


Little Feminists: On the Go

Beautiful photos of real-life families showcase all types of movement, while poetic text builds both vocabulary and family connection.

We want to go to school! : the fight for disability rights / Maryann Cocca-Leffler

There was a time in the United States when children with disabilities weren’t allowed to go to public school. But in 1971, seven kids and their families wanted to do something about it.

Unbound : the life and art of Judith Scott / Joyce Scott; illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Judith Scott was born with Down syndrome. She was deaf, and never learned to speak. She was also a talented artist.

The fastest girl on Earth! : meet Kitty O’Neil, daredevil driver! / Dean Robbins

After becoming a race car driver, Kitty sought to do what no woman had done before: she aimed to break the land-speed record! Kitty was a hero to fans everywhere, and proved that she was truly unstoppable.

Emmanuel’s Dream / Laurie Thompson

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people–but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams.

All the Way to the Top: How one Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything / Annette Bay Pimentel; illustrated by Nabi H. Ali.

Jennifer Keelan was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth. At 8-years-old, she participated in the Capital Crawl to advocate for the ADA.

Zion Unmatched / Zion Clark

An extraordinary, deeply inspirational photo essay follows elite wheelchair racer and wrestler and Netflix documentary star Zion Clark.

Born Just Right / Jordan Reeves and Jen Lee Reeves.

Jordan recounts her journey growing up without the bottom half of her left arm, including her founding the non-profit Born Just Right, and the inspiration for her invention of Project Unicorn, a prosthetic that shoots glitter.

Rolling warrior : the incredible, sometimes awkward, true story of a rebel girl on wheels who helped spark a revolution / Judith Heumann

One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her story of fighting to belong in school and society–a powerful role model for young adults with a passion for activism

I am not a Label : 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists from Past and Present / Cerrie Burnell; illustrated by Lauren Baldo.

Short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges which have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers and innovators.

Not so Different: What You really Want to Ask About Having a Disability / Shane Burcaw ; photographs by Matt Carr.

Shane Burcaw answers questions from kids about his wheelchair and life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy with humor and empathy.

A Kids Book about Disabilities / Kristine Napper.

So how do you talk about disability? How do you talk to people with disabilities? This book helps kids approach disability as a normal part of the human experience.