Children's Literature

The way disability is represented in the books we share with our students matters. We hope to share stories in which students can identify with the characters, those that avoid disability stereotypes and celebrate the various and unique ways we live in the world. Special thanks to Dr. Sara M. Acevedo's students at Miami University who provided many of the recommendations here.

Black Disabled Art History 101 by Leroy F. Moore Jr.

Ages: 10-12

Leroy F. Moore Jr., the author of Black Disabled Art History 101, simply explains that disability can be proudly claimed as an identity rather than an inability. This book will provide a variety of art and literature that will enrich your art history knowledge of under represented artists.

-Silvia Ayala Vega

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best

Ages: 4-8

Readers live vicariously through a young, African American, blind girl as she experiences first grade, as this story is told completely from her perspective.  This story will not only teach children about the experiences of a blind peer, but will also help normalize disability in the classroom in general.

-Kennedy Reeder

Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask about Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw

Ages: 4-8

This book would be beneficial for all ages to read, as it answers basic questions about disability that often go unanswered. Covering a wide range of questions about Shane’s life, it addresses bullying and how Shane has experienced being outcast because of his disability. This can help children understand that pointing and staring can be mean and encourages them not to judge someone they don’t know.

-Carlie Dellecave

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher 

Ages: 4-8

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher is a short, very cute book of a child’s perspective of his mom who happens to use a wheelchair. This book tells kids that just because a person has a disability, does not make them any less of a person.  Since his mother has a wheelchair, he is able to be very imaginative and accepting.

-Gillian Stamets

My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson

Ages: 8-12

My Friend Isabelle highlights a friendship of acceptance and inclusion that celebrates differences. Teachers can use this book to help students see that people who are different can be your friend.

-Kelsey Marler

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

Ages: 4-8

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin does a great job explaining how autism can influence someone’s behavior and emotions. This message is sent through pictures and rhymes. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about 1.) how autism works, 2.) a unique learning style, or 3.) an inspiring person, Dr. Temple Grandin! (She is not inspiring because of her disability, but because of her great accomplishments).

-Maggie Niesen

Tameka's New Dress by Ronnie Sidney, II

Ages: 9-12

I would recommend this book because it demonstrates the importance of accepting children as learners just the way they are. It offers a message that those who are healing from trauma can be given the help they need and be treated with care and respect. This book highlights the notion of loving ourselves the way we are.

-Mackenzie Smith

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis

Ages: 4-7

The main character is a little girl who uses a wheelchair. She does all the same things other kids do and feels the same emotions. This gives a positive message about disability. I would recommend this book because it exposes children to differences when they are forming their opinions and beliefs. Parents or teachers can offer guidance by answering questions and normalizing disability.

-Maggie Niesen

Mandy Sue Day by Roberta Karim

Ages: 5-10

This book challenges readers to reflect on the limits they impose on disabled people, specifically blind people. While some make assumptions of what others can and can’t do, the main character shows that she goes through her day without limiting herself in work, family life, and fun.

-Mady Wilson

Dad and Me in the Morning by Patricia Lakin

Ages: 3-6

I would recommend this book because it shows a loving story between a boy and his dad. The boy communicates without words and is able to express himself clearly. Watercolor illustrations show that beauty is never far away.

-Macy Neace

Moses Goes to a Concert by Isaac Millman

Ages: 5-8

The main character, Moses, and his friends from school are deaf, and like most children, they have a lot to say. They are able to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). I would recommend this book because not only does it encourage young readers to dream, but also gives them perspective on different ways people express themselves. I enjoyed how the book included pictures of Moses using sign language, teaching readers more about ASL.

-Kennedy Reeder

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Ages: 8-12

I would definitely recommend this book because it allows children to understand what it is like to go through friend problems and what it is like to be Deaf. El Deafo allows the reader to understand different types of discrimination that happens to children and helps them avoid this behavior and stand up for others who experience bullying / degrading comments.

-Maggie Niesen

King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan

Ages: 6-9

King for a Day, by Rukhsana Khan,  is about a boy who uses a wheelchair as he celebrates and participates in the Pakistani and Indian festival of Basant. It would be a great book to read in a lesson about various cultures and their traditions. Unlike many stories that include disability, this book does not portray disability as something one must overcome, but rather something that is a normal part of life.

-Sam Belkowitz

©2020 by Teacher Leaders for Inclusion. Graphic artist Nancy Cardenas.