Since 1992, International Day of Persons With Disabilities has been dedicated to raising awareness of the issues they face. In honor of this day, I want to raise awareness by sharing a few books with great disabled representation.
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Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Written by Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, this picture book is the perfect introduction to disabilities for children. In this book, we meet a number of children who are all differently abled. From diabetes to dyslexia, all the children introduce themselves to the reader, explaining their disability or learning disorder. The real message of this book is that we are all different, and our differences make the world a better place. I would consider Just Ask a must-have for any child’s library.
I Will Dance by Nancy Bo Flood, Illustrated by Julianna Swaney
In I Will Dance, we are introduced to Eva, who was born with cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair to move around. Eva longs to dance, but she doesn’t believe it is possible until she finds a newspaper ad calling for dancers of all abilities. Inspired by a true story, this is a beautiful story of a disabled girl fulfilling her dreams. I love the illustrations in this one, and the way they capture the movement of the children dancing.
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Illustrated by Nabi Ali
This picture book tell the story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins, an activist and wheelchair user who crawled the steps of the Capitol Building during a demonstration protesting Congress to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act. All The Way To The Top is a great book to open up conversations with your children about issues disabled people are faced with, and how it is necessary to stand up for their rights the same way we stand up for other marginalized people in our communities.
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Emmanuel’s Dream is a picture book relating the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a Ghanaian man who was born without a tibia in his right leg. Because he was born in a country where babies with deformities are considered “curses”, Emmanuel faced a unique set of obstacles. Though he was dismissed by many in his community, including his father, Emmanuel still worked hard to learn to bring himself to school, play soccer, and ride a bike. Emmanuel goes on to ride 400 miles across Ghana to bring attention to the issues faced by disabled people there.
I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists from Past and Present by Cerrie Burnell, Illustrated by Lauren Mark Baldo
Like the title implies, I Am Not A Label is a fantastic collection of biographies of 34 different artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists throughout history (including present day), paired with wonderful illustrations from Lauren Mark Baldo. From Stephen Hawking to Lil Wayne, this book shares the unique obstacles each of these trailblazers have overcome to find success in their fields. Many disabilities are represented, from blindness to fibromyalgia. This is a great book to normalize disability for young readers.
Obviously, there are LOTS of other options for disabled representation in our children’s libraries, but these are a few of my favorites at the moment. What are your favorite books with disabled representation to read to your little ones? Comment below to share!