Children’s Books That Feature Characters With Disabilities

Caroline Bologna | Huffington Post, February 3, 2021

These kids’ books feature main and secondary characters with disabilities that may or may not be central to the plot.

It’s important for children to feel represented in the books they read. It’s also important for books to expose children to the beautiful diversity of our world.

This includes the varying abilities and disabilities around the globe. To promote inclusivity and representation, we’ve rounded up 53 books featuring characters with disabilities.

1. “Emmanuel’s Dream”

book cover from the book named "Emmanuel's Dream" written by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls.

“Emmanuel’s Dream” tells the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a Ghanaian athlete and disability rights activist. (Available here.)

2. “Hello Goodbye Dog”

Book cover from the book named "Hello goodbye dog" written by Maria Gianferrari.

This book is about the bond between a girl who just happens to use a wheelchair and her dog. (Available here.)

3. “The Girl Who Thought In Pictures”

Book cover from the book named "The girl who thought in pictures" written by Julia Finely Mosca.

“The Girl Who Thought In Pictures” tells the story of world-renowned scientist Dr. Temple Grandin, who defied expectations of what autistic people could accomplish. (Available here.)

4. “Moses Goes to a Concert”

Book cover from the book named "Moses Goes to a Concert" written by Isaac Millman.

Featuring American Sign Language, “Moses Goes to a Concert” is part of a series that follows Moses and his classmates who are deaf. (Available here.)

5. “Different Is Awesome”

Book cover from the book named "Different Is Awesome" written by Ryan Haack.

“Different Is Awesome” is the result of a Kickstarter campaign from Ryan Haack, who was born with one hand and who set out to bring more inclusion to the children’s book world. (Available here.)

6. “We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!”

Book cover from the book named "We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!" made by the Sesame Street company.

This Sesame Street storybook focuses on a 2015 character addition: Elmo’s friend Julia, who has autism(Available here.)

7. “Susan Laughs”

Book cover from the book named "Susan Laughs" written by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross.

The titular character enjoys a number of everyday activities like swimming, playing and going to school. Only at the end of the story does the reader learn she uses a wheelchair. (Available here.)

8. “Uniquely Me”

Book cover from the book named "Uniquely Me" written by Trace Wilson.

Author Trace Wilson’s life as someone born without a right hand motivated him to share his story about learning to love his limb difference. (Available here.)

9. “Just Ask!”

Book cover from the book named "Just Ask!" written by Sonia Sotomayor.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote this book that depicts kids of different disabilities working together to create a garden. (Available here.)

10. “Thank You, Mr. Falker”

Book cover from the book named "Thank You, Mr. Falker" written by Patricia Polacco.

“Thank You, Mr. Falker” follows a girl with dyslexia and a teacher who believes in her ability to succeed. (Available here.)

11. “Rescue & Jessica”

Book cover from the book named "Rescue & Jessica" written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes.

Written by Boston Marathon bombing survivors Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, “Rescue & Jessica” focuses on the relationship between a service dog and a girl with physical disabilities. (Available here.)

12. “My Brother Charlie”

Book cover from the book named "My Brother Charlie" written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete.

Actor and advocate Holly Robinson Peete collaborated with her daughter Ryan to write “My Brother Charlie,” which is based on Ryan’s experience having a twin brother with autism. (Available here.)

13. “Six Dots”

Book cover from the book named "Six Dots" written by Jen Bryant.

This picture book biography shares the story of Louis Braille – the blind man who created the system of reading and writing that people who are blind or have low vision still use today. (Available here.)

14. “My Friend Suhana”

Book cover from the book named "My Friend Suhana" written by Shaila Abdullah and Aanyah Abdullah.

Author Shaila Abdullah teamed up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to write this book about a friendship between two girls, one of whom has cerebral palsy. (Available here.)

15. “The Animal Boogie”

Book cover from the book named "The Animal Boogie" sung by Fred Penner.

Kids of different cultural backgrounds and physical disabilities meet animals in the jungle in this lively book. (Available here.)

16. “Completely Me”

Book cover from the book named "Completely Me" written by Justine Green and Ed.D.
Justine Green’s “Completely Me” is based on her own life, disability and coming-of-age journey. (Available here.)

17. “Happy in Our Skin”

Book cover from the book named "Happy in Our Skin" written by Fran Manushkin.

This book highlights different characters’ families and experiences as it celebrates the beauty of diversity. (Available here.)

18. “The Push”

Book cover from the book named "The Push" written by Patrick Gray.

Based on their own friendship, Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck’s book follows Marcus and his friend, John, who uses a wheelchair, through their various adventures together. (Available here.)

19. “My Three Best Friends And Me, Zulay”

Book cover from the book named "My Three Best Friends And Me, Zulay" written by Cari Best.
The protagonist of this book is blind and uses a cane. Through determination and friendship, she achieves her goal of participating in a field day race. (Available here.)

20. “Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome”

Book cover from the book named "Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome" written by Lisa Tompkins.

Inspired by her daughter who has Down syndrome, Lisa Tompkins wrote this book about embracing everyone’s differences and connecting with people who may not seem like you from the outside. (Available here.)

21. “Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged”

Book cover from the book named "Benny Doesn't Like To Be Hugged" written by Zetta Elliott.

“Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged” highlights the unique traits of the titular character, who has autism. (Available here.)

22. “Slug Days”

Book cover from the book named "Slug Days" written by Sara Leach.

“Slug Days” follows a girl on the spectrum named Lauren and provides insight into the way she sees the world. (Available here.)

23. “Amazing”

Book cover from the book named "Amazing" written by Steve Antony.

“Amazing” is another book in which the main character uses a wheelchair that’s not central to the plot, which focuses on his pet dragon. (Available here.)

24. “All The Way To The Top”

Book cover from the book named "All The Way To The Top" written by Annette Bay Pimental and Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins.

This book tells the story of activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her participation in the “Capitol Crawl” to advocate for the Americans with Disabilities Act. (Available here.)

25. “A Boy And A Jaguar”

Book cover from the book named "A Boy And A Jaguar" written by Alan Rabinowitz.
Zoologist Alan Rabinowitz wrote this book inspired by his childhood experience as an animal-loving boy with a stutter. (Available here.)

26. “Meeting Mimi”

Book cover from the book named "Meeting Mimi" written by Francie Dolan.

“Meeting Mimi” follows a girl with a physical disability as she navigates a new school and meets new classmates. (Available here.)

27. “Hands & Hearts”

Book cover from the book named "Hands & Hearts" written by Donna Jo Napoli.
In this book, a mother and daughter spend a day at the beach and communicate in American Sign Language. (Available here.)

28. “A Friend For Henry”

Book cover from the book named"A Friend For Henry" written by Jenn Bailey.

“A Friend for Henry” follows a boy on the autism spectrum as he looks for a friend who will understand him and appreciate their differences. (Available here.)

29. “Not So Different”

Book cover from the book named "Not So Different" written by Shane Burcaw.

Disability advocate and social media personality Shane Burcaw opens up about his life with spinal muscular atrophy in this book for kids. (Available here.)

30. “Sign Up Here”

Book cover from the book named "Sign Up Here" written by Kathryn Cole.

A girl with a disability works through feelings of exclusion and loneliness as she tries to find the right club for her. (Available here.)

31. “Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap”

Book cover from the book named "Why Johnny Doesn't Flap" written by Clay Morton and Gail Morton.

“Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap” turns the tables and explores how a neurotypical boy seems off to his friend who has autism. (Available here.)

32. “What’s Cool About Braille Code School?”

Book cover from the book named "What's Cool About Braille Code School?" written and created by Gracie Benedith-Cane.

Gracie Benedith-Cane wrote “What’s Cool About Braille Code School?” in honor of her son Wani, who is legally blind. The book shows readers what it’s like to navigate the world as someone who is blind or has low vision. (Available here.)

33. “Mama Zooms”

Book cover from the book named "Mama Zooms" written by Jane Cowen-Fletcher.

A little boy plays with his mom on her “zooming machine,” aka wheelchair, in this sweet story. (Available here.)

34. “My Ocean is Blue”

Book cover from the book named "My Ocean is Blue" written by Darren Lebeuf and Ashley Barron.

A girl with a physical disability describes the sensory experience of being at the beach in this lyrical book. (Available here.)

35. “Benji, The Bad Day, And Me”

Book cover from the book named "Benji, The Bad Day, And Me" written by Sally J. Pla.
“Benji, The Bad Day, And Me” tells the story of two brothers, one of whom has autism. (Available here.)

36. “She Persisted In Sports”

Book cover from the book named "She Persisted In Sports" written by Chelsea Clinton.

This installment in Chelsea Clinton’s “She Persisted” series features the stories of American women athletes, including wheelchair racer Jean Driscoll. (Available here.)

37. “Silent Lotus”

Book cover from the book named "Silent Lotus" written by Jeanne M. Lee.

The titular character was born deaf and unable to speak in this story set in Kampuchea, known today as Cambodia. (Available here.)

38. “The Sound Of Colors”

Book cover from the book named "The Sound Of Colors" written by Jimmy Liao.

A girl who is going blind uses her imagination to explore the world around her. (Available here.)

39. “We’ll Paint The Octopus Red”

Book cover from the book named "We'll Paint The Octopus Red" written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen.
“We’ll Paint The Octopus Red” follows a big sister as her family welcomes her little brother, who has Down syndrome, into the world. (Available here.)

40. “This Is My School”

Book cover from the book named "This Is My School" written by Mark Weakland.

Readers get a tour of the protagonist’s school in this book which features accessible ramps and a teacher in a wheelchair. (Available here.)

41. “I Am Not A Label”

Book cover from the book named "I Am Not A Label" written by Cerrie Burnell.

“I Am Not A Label” highlights 34 artists, thinkers, athletes and activists with disabilities. (Available here.)

42. “Juan Has The Jitters”

Book cover from the book named "Juan Has The Jitters" written by Aneta Cruz.
This book about a boy with autism promotes inclusion, kindness and community. (Available here.)

43. “Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon”

Book cover from the book named "Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon" written by Patty Lovell.

“Have Fun, Molly Lou Melon” features a character who appears to use a wheelchair. (Available here.)

44. “King For A Day”

Book cover from the book named "King For A Day" written by Rukhsana Khan.

A Pakistani boy celebrates the famous Basant kite festival in this story of inclusion. (Available here.)

45. “Mariah Finds A Way”

Book cover from the book named "Mariah Finds A Way" written by Mark Gaskins, Darrin Gladman and Makayla Sutton.

The titular Mariah, who is blind, exceeds her parents’ expectations by successfully running their fruit shop on her own. (Available here.)

46. “I Can, Can You?”

Book cover from the book named "I Can, Can You?" written by Marjorie W. Pitzer.

This board book celebrates children with Down syndrome. (Available here.)

47. “Mr. Gringle’s Magical Wheelchair”

Book cover from the book named "Mr. Gringle's Magical Wheelchair" written by Natalie Conchar.

As the title suggests, this story focuses on a magical wheelchair and the courage it gives one girl to believe in herself. (Available here.)

49. “Keisha’s Doors”

Book cover from the book named "Keisha's Doors" written by Marvie Ellis.

An autism diagnosis and subsequent work with a therapist drive the plot of “Keisha’s Doors.” (Available here.)

50. “Me, The Queen and Christopher”

Book cover from the book named written by Giles Andreae and Tony Ross.

The protagonist’s brother, Christopher, uses a wheelchair in this story about a delightful tea experience. (Available here.)

51. “My Travelin’ Eye”

Book cover from the book named "My Travelin' Eye" written by Jenny Sue and Kostecki-Shaw.
“My Travelin’ Eye” follows a little girl who has a visual disability that makes her different from her peers. (Available here.)

51. “My Pal, Victor”

Book cover from the book named "My Pal, Victor" written Diane Gonzales Bertrand.

In the final illustration, the reader learns that the title character of this friendship-focused book uses a wheelchair. (Available here.)

52. “Snug”

Book cover from the book named "Snug" written by Carol Thompson.

This board book about feeling cozy features a character in a wheelchair. (Available here.)

53. “Dan And Diesel”

Book cover from the book named "Dan And Diesel" written by Charlotte Hudson and Lindsey Gardiner.

This story is about the close friendship between a blind boy and his guide dog. (Available here.)

This story is part of a HuffPost Parents project called “I See Me,” a series for parents and kids on the power of representation. We know how important it is for kids to see people who look like them on the biggest stages, including politics, sports, entertainment and beyond. Throughout February, we’ll explore the importance of representation in teaching kids about difference, acceptance, privilege and standing up for others.

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