Picture books about disability are thankfully not in short supply. It made me glad to find a variety of stories about various physical disabilities when researching this post. You’ll find lots of books with kids using wheelchairs, having vision difficulties, being deaf or hard of hearing, and many others. These books provide much-needed positive representation and show kids how to treat people with disabilities.
Meg and Riley’s lives change when the two girls meet at the nurse’s office and bond over jelly beans. But the road to friendship isn’t without bumps. Meg’s mom has not been herself since Meg’s father died. She hardly gets out of bed and can’t hold a job or do food shopping. Meg wears slippers to school and a ratty t-shirt. Riley on the other hand has Type 1 Diabetes and has an insulin pump. She also has to check her sugar and track how much sugar she’s consuming so that her pump can supply enough insulin for her needs.
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon has the chance to fly when she stumbles upon a group of kids putting on a production of Wicked, the musical. Nat has been paralyzed from the waist down since an accident when she was two. She’s also a wheelchair athlete whose parents have moved from California to New Jersey for her mother’s new job. Nat is obsessed with Broadway and Hamilton although she has never actually been in a musical.
25+ middle-grade books about physical disability. These books either feature children or other characters — parents, friends, relatives and others with physical disabilities. Either way, they create essential windows and mirrors.
Today’s pick is Dusti Bowling’s Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. I really liked this book, and Aven Green. It’s also a much loved book, although it is not an Own Voices take on disability. Still, it has good representation featuring a character without arms and one with Tourette’s.
In Happily Ever Afters, Tessa Johnson and her family have moved into a new neighborhood, hoping for a fresh start. Tessa will be attending a high school for the arts where she can have dedicated writing classes and be surrounded by other creative kids. Her brother Miles, has disabilities due to a form of cerebral palsy and Tessa looks after him a lot of the time. Tessa also enjoys creating love stories, which her best friend Caroline (and only Caroline so far) reads and enjoys.
As she starts at the new school, She reluctantly cultivates a relationship with Sam, the culinary arts kid who lives next door. But when Tessa attends her first creative writing workshop, she develops a crush on Nic, a guy in her class, as well as a major case of writer’s block mostly due to her severe anxiety around sharing her work with others.
The World Ends in April is author Stacy McAnulty’s sophomore middle-grade novel. Her strong-willed protagonist Eleanor Dross’s grandfather is a survivalist. When a renowned scientist begins to spread news of an impending asteroid hit, Eleanor gets caught up in end-of-the-world propaganda. Along with Mack she starts a survivalist club at school. The club attracts some unexpected members, including Eleanor’s nemesis, Londyn. But as the kids prepare for TEOTWAWKI (the End of the World as We Know It), they learn more about each other and life than they expect.
Jamie and I discuss her choice to write about a child with cerebral palsy, the inclusion of a grandparent with Alzhiemer’s, baking, and how she makes time for writing despite a busy schedule. We also talked about how others can show more consideration to people with a disability.
Twelve-year-old Ellie is a sassy, determined baker. It just so happens that she also has cerebral palsy and has to use a wheelchair. Her dad couldn’t deal with her being ill at birth (and for months after), so he pretty much skipped out on her and her mom who’s been her #1 advocate.
When Ellie’s grandfather’s Alzheimer’s takes a turn for the worse, Ellie and her mom move into her grandparents trailer in Oklahoma to help out for six months.
In The Silence Between Us, Maya who is Deaf, has to move across the country to Colorado just before senior year. As if that isn’t bad enough, she’s moving from a hearing-impaired school to a hearing school. Maya lost her hearing at age 13 after an illness, so she can speak — she just can’t hear.