I’ve been asked several times for a book list that showcases characters with diverse abilities and challenges. Representation in books is crucial. This disability picture books list is meant to celebrate every type of mind and body but there is still work to do in the publishing world so you will see holes in this list.
Differently Abled Books for Kids
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What Happened to You? by James Catchpole reminds us that “What happened to you?” is not the leading question we should be bombarding others with especially if we are meeting someone for the first time. In this story, we meet a boy who is trying to play at the playground when other kids start asking questions about his appearance. He doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s at the playground to play and that is what he wants to do. Eventually, a girl approaches and engages in playing together and they quickly continue their pirate game.
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel is the story of an activist determined to fight for everyone to have a voice.
Every Body : A Celebration of Diverse Abilities by Shelley Rotner celebrates bodies of all shapes and sizes in a photographic journey.
Mara Hears in Style by Terri Clemmons is the story of young girl starting a new school. Her first day is filled with ups and downs as she navigates questions about her hearing aids. But, Mara use her hearing aids as a superpower to meet new friends.
Many of us need tools and resources to help us be our bodies be their best. In Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus, we meet a bear who gets hearing devices to assist with his ability to hear. Soon, Bear is ready to hear a whole range of sounds.
Sound Switch Wonder by Christine J. Ko and Owen Whang follows a child who has cochlear implants and experiences the world. He tries to explain the experience to his family to help them understand too.
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott is the story of a boy who struggles with communicating in the manner he would like. A loving family member and walk through nature help the child connect with his voice.
My City Speaks by Darren Lebeuf is the story of a young girl and her father who explore all the sounds, scents, and textures of the city as they walk from place to place including the garden and the playground.
Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant is the story of the inventor of the touch alphabet. Learn all about him in this fascinating read.
My Extraordinary Face by Samir Mardinin, MD and Marissa Suchyta MD PhD is a book to help children process and respond to others who may question or tease them about their facial uniqueness.
Sam’s Super Seats by Keah Brown and Sharee Miller is the story of a young girl and her friends prepping for the first day of school. Three friends going to the mall, hanging out, laughing and having an all-around good time.
What is even more special is that the main character has cerebral palsy and needs to rest often. She’s got her super seats that she names that provide a place of rest and allow her to continue to be a kid. However, the seats at the mall could be a bit more comfortable.
Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson is an inspirational story about a boy who overcomes his physical challenge to accomplish great physical feats along with changing the minds of many about people who deal with challenges. Emmanuel was determined to travel by bike almost 400 miles in 10 days to raise awareness and spread his message.
The Mermaid with No Tail by Jessica Long is the story of a mermaid with no tail. Even though she is made fun of for not having a tail, she decides to compete in the Mermaid Games. With the support of her adoptive parents, friends, and coach she trains and wins.
Patricia Polacco is an extremely talented storyteller and illustrator. Did you know that she is also dyslexic? Thank You, Mr. Falker is a beautiful story about a young girl (Patricia Polacco) who struggled with reading in school and a caring, supporting teacher who helped her learn to read.
Print the Book List of Different Ability Books Above
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Do you know of another book to add to the list? Leave a comment below and let us know.