Books about Characters with Physical Disabilities
As authors and publishers are starting to recognize the importance of representation, more children’s books now feature characters with disabilities, providing role models who represent their struggles and triumphs. The books in this list include representation of a variety of disabilities, showing all children that a disability is only a part of a person's story, not the whole.
Just Ask: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You by Sonia Sotomayor. Illus. By Rafael López.
Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges such as dyslexia, a nut allergy, and Tourette’s syndrome and shows how that variation creates beauty.
Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson.
An inspirational true story about an advocate for disability rights in Ghana. Born without a right tibia (shin bone), Emmanuel pedaled a bicycle nearly 400 miles around Ghana in just 10 days to raise awareness of the physically challenged and shares his message that "being disabled does not mean being unable."
Six Dots: A Story of Louis Braille by Jen Bryant. Illus. By Boris Kulikov.
Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. Determined to live like everyone else, he invented the Braille system for writing still used by the blind community today.
Be a Friend by Salina Yoon.
Dennis, who is mute, feels lonely and invisible until an observant little girl discovers that friends need not speak a word in order to communicate and connect.
Rescue and Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes. Illus. By Scott Magoon.
Inspired by the authors’ experiences as amputees, this story depicts the relationship between a disabled girl and her black lab service dog, and includes fascinating details on the many tasks service dogs can accomplish.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling.
Though Aven was born without arms, she has never let it deter her from doing anything she sets her mind to. When her family moves to a new state, her optimism and sense of humor help her make the best of the new situation, and she becomes friends with Connor (who has Tourette's syndrome).
Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly.
Twelve-year-old Iris is a tech genius and the only Deaf student in her class. When she learns about a whale who can’t communicate with its species, she tries to help. Written by a sign language interpreter, this story will resonate with Deaf and hearing readers alike.
Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler.
This novel conveys the urgent and relatable anguish of an 11-year-old girl living with sensory processing disorder while trying to keep it hidden from her friends at school. With her large network of adult support, Willa gradually gains confidence to be unapologetically herself.
The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.
Winner of the Newbery Honor and the Schneider Family Book Award, this is the story of 10-year-old Ada who leaves London during World War II for the safety of the English countryside. There, despite her twisted foot, a whole new life opens up to her.
The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais.
Gervais uses her own experiences of hearing loss to lend authenticity to this novel about a Deaf teenager leaving a school for the Deaf and starting senior year at a new hearing school.
Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.
LeRoi R. Jones,
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ