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Young Adults' 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.

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Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens by Marieke Nijkamp
Ages: 14-18

This book of short stories, following different disabled young adults, contains unique perspectives on life as each is authored by a different person. Addressing topics such as religion, love, sexuality, etc, the stories are set in unique time periods and some even in different universes. It brings to light many stereotypes the disability community faces and breaks them down so readers can understand how it impacts the community. It follows many things young adults go through like their first love, first kiss, and challenges with things like sports, family, and school. Stories focus on a multitude of sometimes difficult-to-talk-about topics and how they impact a wide range of people.

-ABC

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Ages: 14-18

I would definitely recommend this book to young adult readers! The book is very engaging and has a storyline that keeps readers drawn in. Rather than learning about someone with autism, you are taken through an autistic person's journey in the first person, getting to see how they navigate situations and settings.

-Morgan Streby

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A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass
Ages: 8-12

This book discusses a realistic journey of being diagnosed with an invisible disability and being accepting and proud of who you are. This book displays a progression of not fully accepting disability/differences and embarrassment to then having pride and acceptance. It touches on many important topics such as the medical versus social model of disability, discrimination, and the role of social support/resources through the lens of a young teen discovering who she really is.

-Sarah Slagle

The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

Ages: 14-18

This book is for anyone who loves a good adventure with a diverse cast! The book not only discusses disability and ableism, but also touches on queer, racial, and feminist issues. This book discusses how the characters’ positionalities influence their epistemology, we are shown how two characters must navigate the world differently based on their position in our social hierarchy. This book also brings attention to the faulty mindset that is the medical model of disability. This book emphasizes that disabilities are not something to be “cured” of “fixed”, and the societal barriers that disabled people face.

-Christan Gray

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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Ages: 14-18

I recommend this book/book series as it offers a deeper message about choosing your family and it successfully conveys the intricate experiences of disabled people navigating ableist societies. The author successfully creates diverse and complex characters within a fantasy setting. This book offers not only disability representation, but also POC and queer representation too.

-Christina Gray