March is National Developmental Disability Awareness Month, an especially good time to embrace stories about individuals with different abilities. Use this guide, organized by age range, to find books that celebrate or are inclusive of people with disabilities. For more recommendations, check out The Ability Center Dream Project (abilitycenter.org), a resource that greatly contributed to this list.
Babies & Toddlers
Baby Loves the Five Senses: Hearing! board book
by Ruth Spiro, Irene Chan (Illustrator)
A simple and accurate book that explores the world of sound. Baby also learns that some ears use technological help and some communicate without using sound.
Preschool – Early Elementary
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything
by Annette Bay Pimentel, Nabi Ali (Illustrator)
At age eight, Jennifer Keelan climbed the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC without her wheelchair to make sure the Americans with Disabilities Act passed.
This Beach Is Loud! (Little Senses)
A gentle, practical story about children on the autism spectrum and/or with sensory sensitivities learning to cope.
My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay
by Cari Best, Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)
Zulay and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class. Zulay is blind. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay runs a race on field day.
When Charlie met Emma and Awesomely Emma: A Charley and Emma Story
by Amy Webb, Merrilee Liddiard (Illustrator)
These two books are about Charley and Emma’s friendship. Emma is a girl with limb differences who gets around in a wheelchair. These books can help kids think about differences as not bad, sad, or strange, just different, and different is great!
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship
By Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, Scott Magoon (Illustrator)
Told through the eyes of Rescue, a service dog for a young girl, this is a sweet story about how Jessica and Rescue support each other.
King for a Day
by Rukhsana Khan, Christiane Kramer (Illustrator)
The star of this book is Malik, a boy who lives in Lahore, Pakistan. Malik and his kite are the heroes of this story where the focus is on his adventure and Malik happens to use a wheelchair.
Upper Elementary & Middle School
The Chance to Fly
by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
A heartfelt novel about a theater-loving girl who uses a wheelchair for mobility along with her quest to defy expectations and gravity.
El Deafo: Superpowered Edition!
by Cece Bell
This award-winning graphic novel about a student with a hearing aid who figures out how to use her disability to become a superhero.
The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family
by Sarah Kapit
Meet the Finkel family in this middle-grade novel about two autistic sisters, their detective agency and life’s most consequential mysteries.
As Brave As You
by Jason Reynolds
Genie and his brother have never met their Grandpop before, and they find out that Grandpop is blind. Along the way, Genie learns how Grandpop cooks, matches clothes and hides being blind.
Laughing at My Nightmare
by Shane Bucaw
Burcaw’s memoir-in-essays will have you rolling with laughter as he honestly shares his exploits, his awkward situations and his life with spinal muscular atrophy.
Love from A to Z
by S.K. Ali
Zayneb, the only Muslim in her school, is going to try being a nicer version of herself. She meets Adam, who has just been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and a romance blooms.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (Life of a Cactus Series #1)
by Dusti Bowling
This book full of spunky characters, mystery, and a cross-country move follows Aven Green, who was born without arms but loves to make up wild and exciting stories about how she lost them. She and Connor, a boy with Tourette Syndrome, discover a room full of secrets at the theme park Aven’s parents are running and work together to solve a mystery.
by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu
A YA graphic novel about Nova, a witch who happens to be hard-of-hearing, She discovers her crush’s secret and helps fight the dark forces that are after them.
Marcelo in the Real World
by Francisco X. Stork
Marcello has always attended a special school. Now his father insists that Marcello work in the mailroom at his law firm where he not only makes friends but uncovers a real-world problem that he needs to solve.
To find more recommendations, check out our extended online version at toledoparent.com in addition to ACT’s list at abilitycenter.org.