Dark
Books & Beyond

Disability Visibility

By Lisa T.
July 28, 2021

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. Sadly, books that represent the people with disabilities with authenticity and sensitivity are too rare in children’s literature.  If you have a recent title to recommend for this list, we’d love to hear from you.

Picture Books

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chapter Books

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nonfiction

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.

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.

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.

Follow Happy Valley on Facebook