76 books like I Am Not a Label

By Cerrie Burnell, Lauren Mark Baldo (illustrator),

Here are 76 books that I Am Not a Label fans have personally recommended if you like I Am Not a Label. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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All the Way to the Top

By Annette Bay Pimentel, Nabi Ali (illustrator),

Book cover of All the Way to the Top: How One Girl's Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything

Meeg Pincus Author Of So Much More to Helen: The Passions and Pursuits of Helen Keller

From the list on real people with disabilities.

Who am I?

I’ve lived most of my life with invisible disabilities that affect my daily activities, and I hope to encourage nuanced, empowering, and inclusive conversations about disabilities with my book, So Much More to Helen! All of my nonfiction picture books—Miep and the Most Famous Diary, Winged Wonders, Cougar Crossing, Ocean Soup, Make Way for Animals!, and more—are about “solutionaries” who help people, animals, and the planet. They’ve won Golden Kite and Eureka! Nonfiction Honor Awards, starred reviews, and spots on best book and state reading lists. Mostly, I hope they inspire compassion, curiosity, and action.

Meeg's book list on real people with disabilities

Why did Meeg love this book?

This book, for me, is important as the first trade nonfiction picture book about the fight for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I hope and assume more books on this topic are in the pipeline, as there is so much more to share with kids about this crucial social justice movement! Jennifer Keenan’s story is great for kids because she was a kid herself when she crawled up the U.S. Capitol steps to fight for disability rights. This book offers an inspiring, personal entryway into the disability rights movement and the importance of having laws and systems to back up beliefs about access for all.

By Annette Bay Pimentel, Nabi Ali (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Way to the Top as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

2021 Schneider Family Book Award Young Children's Honor Book (American Library Association)
Experience the true story of lifelong activist Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her participation in the Capitol Crawl in this inspiring autobiographical picture book. This beautifully illustrated story includes a foreword from Jennifer and backmatter detailing her life and the history of the disability rights movement.
This is the story of a little girl who just wanted to go, even when others tried to stop her.
Jennifer Keelan was determined to make a change-even if she was just a kid. She never thought her wheelchair could slow her down, but…

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

By Sonia Sotomayor, Rafael López (illustrator),

Book cover of Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Christine J. Ko Author Of Sound Switch Wonder

From the list on promoting curiosity about our differences.

Who am I?

I love reading, partly because I believe in the power of books to feed curiosity, promoting understanding, inclusivity, and belonging. While growing up, my favorite books didn’t have anyone that looked like me. Through reading diverse books to my kids, I realized I’d missed out on this meaningful experience as a child. Even more, I wanted my son, who has bilateral cochlear implants, to be able to read a picture book with a main character with cochlear implants. I hope you enjoy the books on this list as, in unique ways, they all celebrate curiosity about our differences.

Christine's book list on promoting curiosity about our differences

Why did Christine love this book?

This book is about different abilities and being inclusive, written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor herself, partially based on her own lived experience of being diagnosed with diabetes as a child.

I love the thread of respect that infuses the book – a gentle push that we can stay curious and ask about things that we don’t quite understand when others seem different from us. As a bonus for the nerd in me, there is a baked-in deliberate practice component because many pages incorporate questions that each reader can answer for themselves.

By Sonia Sotomayor, Rafael López (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges - and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to…

Emmanuel's Dream

By Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls (illustrator),

Book cover of Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah

Anne Broyles Author Of Priscilla and the Hollyhocks

From the list on real-life children who overcame hardships.

Who am I?

Ever since I read Island of the Blue Dolphins in 5th grade I’ve loved historical fiction. I am inspired by amazing humans who lived across centuries and around the globe and left their mark on the world. My 2023 book I’m Gonna Paint: Ralph Fasanella, Artist of the People is about a social activist artist. Future published books include middle grade novels on the 1838 Trail of Tears, a day on Ellis Island in 1907, and a 1935 book about Eleanor Roosevelt and the planned community of Arthurdale, WV. Like I said, I love exploring history! I read in many genres, but still enjoy learning about history through fiction.

Anne's book list on real-life children who overcame hardships

Why did Anne love this book?

I’ve had an easy life in so many ways, so I appreciate learning from people whose childhood adversities shaped them to make positive changes in the world. When Emmanuel was born in Ghana with a deformed leg, his future looked bleak. Some considered him “cursed.” His mother encouraged him to dream big and become independent. He refused to be defined by his disability and ended up showing “that being disabled does not mean being unable.” To bring attention to the difficulties disabled people face Emmanuel organized and completed a 400-mile bike ride across Ghana. 

I love this book because Emmanuel’s mother believed he was more than his disability, and the way Emmanuel proved this to be true prompted the Ghanaian Parliament to pass the Persons with Disability Act. 

By Laurie Ann Thompson, Sean Qualls (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Emmanuel's Dream as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah's inspiring true story—which was turned into a film, Emmanuel's Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey—is nothing short of remarkable.

Born in Ghana, West Africa, with one deformed leg, he was dismissed by most people—but not by his mother, who taught him to reach for his dreams. As a boy, Emmanuel hopped to school more than two miles each way, learned to play soccer, left home at age thirteen to provide for his family, and, eventually, became a cyclist. He rode an astonishing four hundred miles across Ghana in 2001, spreading his powerful message: disability is not inability. Today,…

I Talk Like a River

By Jordan Scott, Sydney Smith (illustrator),

Book cover of I Talk Like a River

Mónica Armiño Author Of A Wolf Called Wander

From the list on pictures that you will enjoy more as an adult.

Who am I?

I have been a professional illustrator for 20 years. In all this time I have gathered a vast collection of picture books, animated movie artbooks, children's books... I use them as a source of inspiration for my work, but I really collect them because they are my treasure. I don't just look for books with beautiful illustrations, but that really give me something, that make me think, or that stay in my memory. They are timeless books, that are not aimed at any age, that anyone can enjoy, but that at the same time have deep meaning if you know how to look at them. Not all picture books are just for kids.

Mónica's book list on pictures that you will enjoy more as an adult

Why did Mónica love this book?

When my oldest son was little, he was so nervous that he began to stutter. I thought it would be a problem for him, but luckily it was just a phase. That is why the theme of the book, in which the author recalls his childhood as a stuttering child, caught my attention. Regardless of the problem, I think we can all identify with that child who feels vulnerable, who fights against himself, and who accepts himself. We have all felt this way in childhood. And now as adults, we can identify with that father, who serenely accompanies and supports his son. The illustrations are beautiful, they are fresh, expressive, and perfectly reflect the feelings of the protagonist.

By Jordan Scott, Sydney Smith (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked I Talk Like a River as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award
Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner

What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to?
Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to get the words flowing.

A New York Times Best Children's Book of the Year

I wake up each morning with the sounds of words all around me.

And I can't say them all . . .

When a boy who stutters feels isolated, alone, and incapable of communicating in the way he'd…

We Move Together

By Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, Eduardo Trejos (illustrator)

Book cover of We Move Together

Meredith Eliassen Author Of Helen Keller: A Life in American History

From the list on disability and related inclusive movements.

Who am I?

There have always been disabled people shaping my worldview and understanding, however, I am an expert only about my own disabilities. Disabled storytellers, including Helen Keller, sometimes utilize tactical silence to scream… I value that! However, barriers confronting the disabled require broad and sometimes loud collective action from many people in many communities and not just a marginalized few. Disability activism is a complex, tactical fight over time for self-determination that touches all of us at some point. COVID, world events, and experiencing some barriers disabled and marginalized groups face all the time have compelled me to share a few of my favorite reads related to disability and inclusion.

Meredith's book list on disability and related inclusive movements

Why did Meredith love this book?

I believe a society’s resilience does not happen by coddling, oppressing, or marginalizing the disabled (or any minority group), but by fostering holistic, inclusive communities that move in cinque. We Move Together is a picture book about disability justice designed for intergenerational sharing. It is appropriate for all ages as it simply states we as a society move best together no matter of disability, race, gender, or age. The brilliance of this straightforward assertion is its universal intersectionality. The book contains helpful explanations of statements in the verses along with resources for learning more in the back. I love this message! Removing barriers to access, communication, work, relationships, and living independent and self-determined lives helps everyone and fosters healthy democracy.

By Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, Eduardo Trejos (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We Move Together as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community. A perfect tool for families, schools, and libraries to facilitate conversations about disability, accessibility, social justice and community building. Includes a kid-friendly glossary (for ages 3–10). This fully accessible ebook includes alt-text for image descriptions, a read aloud function, and a zoom-in function that allows readers to…

I'll Meet You There

By Heather Demetrios,

Book cover of I'll Meet You There

Kate Larkindale Author Of Stumped

From the list on YA with amputee characters.

Who am I?

I’m a YA writer who likes to tackle difficult subject matter. My books cover things like euthanasia, drug abuse, coming out, and accessing sex as someone with a disability. If my books are found by even just one person who needs to see themselves in a story, then I feel like my job is done.

Kate's book list on YA with amputee characters

Why did Kate love this book?

All the characters in this book felt totally real and the situations they find themselves in and live through are honest.  And I’m not just talking about the main characters here – all the supporting characters have their own personalities and don’t resort to stereotypes as shorthand.  The romance developed organically and felt like something healthy that both Josh and Skylar needed in order to really accept who they are.

By Heather Demetrios,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I'll Meet You There as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating straightedge Skylar from art school is three months of summer… until Skylar's mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.
Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returned home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.
What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise―a quirky motel…

Just Care

By Akemi Nishida,

Book cover of Just Care: Messy Entanglements of Disability, Dependency, and Desire

Jay Timothy Dolmage Author Of Academic Ableism: Disability and Higher Education

From the list on fighting ableism and building a better future.

Who am I?

I grew up in the Disability Rights movement in Canada, fighting for my brother’s right to go to school, to receive medical care, and to be part of our community. For decades, disabled people were institutionalized away from their families and communities, warehoused instead of schooled. My uncle Robert died of neglect in one of these terrible places as a child. My family has been involved in supporting a class action lawsuit against the Ontario government for its responsibility. Since then, the right to education has been better established, and the institutions were closed. But I continue to fight for inclusion and against ableism in education, healthcare, and across our culture.

Jay's book list on fighting ableism and building a better future

Why did Jay love this book?

Though it came out in the Summer of 2022, and had a headstart on the other books on my list, Just Care is in conversation with the rest of this list, and is just as relevant to our current moment, when we might agree that we have a crisis of care. Nishida shows that care dynamics exist within a brutal social order that determines who survives and who deteriorates. Along with the other books on this list, the research methods are creatively mixed here, with interviews, focus groups, and participant observation with care workers and people with disabilities. Just Care documents how people with disabilities work together to reimagine care. We are all enmeshed in a healthcare industry with giant cracks and fissures exposed by the pandemic, and in which we will all move between caregiving, receiving, or both. Read Just Care to better understand imbalances in care, as well…

By Akemi Nishida,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just Care as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just Care is Akemi Nishida's thoughtful examination of care injustice and social justice enabled through care. The current neoliberal political economy has turned care into a business opportunity for the healthcare industrial complex and a mechanism of social oppression and control. Nishida analyzes the challenges people negotiate whether they are situated as caregivers, receivers, or both. Also illuminated is how people with disabilities come together to assemble community care collectives and bed activism (resistance and visions emerging from the space of bed) to reimagine care as a key element for social change.

The structure of care, Nishida writes, is deeply…

Look Up!

By Jin-Ho Jung, Mi Hyun Kim (translator),

Book cover of Look Up!

Nancy Bo Flood Author Of I Will Dance

From the list on to see a child first and understand the disability.

Who am I?

I believe stories help heal our hearts and give us “new eyes” to see ourselves and others. I write to celebrate the courage shown by children as they meet challenges, perhaps the loss of a parent or a friend, the sting of rejection because of being “different.” Stories show us how others face fear or failure. Stories help us celebrate who we are. As a child psychologist, I worked with families and educators on the Pacific island of Saipan to develop programs for students with disabilities so all children could continue their education. My books have been given a variety of awards but the best reward is when a child reading one of my books, smiles, and says, “I am in this book.”

Nancy's book list on to see a child first and understand the disability

Why did Nancy love this book?

In ​Look Up! by Jung Jin Ho the reader slowly comes to understand that the main character is a child sitting on a small balcony outside a tall building in a wheelchair. This child is lonely and isolated. The reader can feel the angry emotion coming off the pages as the child feels frustrated that no one sees them. Everyone on the streets below goes about their day and never notices the child even when she pleads, “Look up!” Jin-Ho uses a black and white color scheme and a combination of lines and objects to evoke melancholy emotions… until the last page when color is used to show happiness, contentedness, and relief. Someone has finally “looked up” and seen more than a wheelchair

By Jin-Ho Jung, Mi Hyun Kim (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Look Up! as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A nearly wordless story about compassion, friendship, and perspective.

High on a balcony, a girl watches the world-- passersby hurrying along, carrying umbrellas in the rain, riding bikes and walking dogs.  She wishes that someone-- anyone!-- would look up and notice her.  Finally, one day, a boy does. Realizing she can't see anything but the tops of people's heads, he lays flat on the pavement. . . and then another person does. . . . and another. The girl smiles, and color begins to brighten her gray world-- as does her newfound friendship.

With spare, simple text and striking black-and-white…

Izzy, Willy-Nilly

By Cynthia Voigt,

Book cover of Izzy, Willy-Nilly

Faye Gibbons Author Of Halley

From the list on coming-of-age for almost any age.

Who am I?

All my life I’ve been pushing against limits. Being the oldest of five children born to a farm couple who became mill workers, I was frequently reminded by family that “people like us” did not need much education, didn’t get the good jobs, and shouldn’t “rise above themselves.” Being a girl, I had additional limits. Naturally, when I learned to read, I was drawn to books in which characters broke through unfair restraints to have adventures and accomplish great deeds. I wanted to be one of those people. By the time I came of age, I knew I had a shot at becoming the heroine of my own story!

Faye's book list on coming-of-age for almost any age

Why did Faye love this book?

Izzy is a nice girl. She’s pretty, popular, and smart. But one ride with a drunk driver changes her entire life. With one leg amputated, she must embrace a new life and find new friends who see her as more than a girl with a handicap. I liked Izzy so much, and it was thrilling to see her believably move on with her life. I see disabled young people with different eyes since reading Izzy’s story.

By Cynthia Voigt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Izzy, Willy-Nilly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One moment can change a life forever.
Fifteen-year-old Izzy has it all -- a loving family, terrific friends, a place on the cheerleading squad. But her comfortable world crumbles when a date with a senior ends in a car crash and she loses her right leg.
Suddenly nothing is the same. The simplest tasks become enormous challenges. Her friends don't seem to know how to act around her. Her family is supportive, but they don't really want to deal with how much she's hurting.
Then Rosamunde extends a prickly offer of friendship. Rosamunde definitely isn't the kind of girl Izzy…


By Marieke Nijkamp,

Book cover of Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens

Jodi Aman Author Of Anxiety...I'm So Done with You: A Teen's Guide to Ditching Toxic Stress and Hardwiring Your Brain for Happiness

From the list on to teach teens how to love themselves.

Who am I?

My love of helping others to heal started early. From the garden I started when I was 8-years-old to the baby ducks I found a home for when I was 10, I have always been passionate about nurturing life. I feel deep empathy for the complexities of others’ pain and am compelled to stand against the context of injustice that causes it. Using this keen understanding of why people suffer, my unique and varied training, rooted ethics, and 25 years of trauma-informed clinical experience, I now help the helpers release what they don't want, recover their energetic bandwidth, and grok a socially conscious life of overflowing joy. 

Jodi's book list on to teach teens how to love themselves

Why did Jodi love this book?

This is an anthology for teens that explores disability from a fictional lens, so that it entertains as it teaches tolerance and compassion. Each short story’s author lives with a disability and writes about first loves, friendship, hardship, and adventure. Unbroken is for teen readers to step into the shoes of teens with disabilities so that they can understand other experiences besides their own. Understanding differences and recognizing one’s own positionality and privilege helps teen find their own agency, purpose, and empowered hope for the future. 

By Marieke Nijkamp,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unbroken as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This anthology explores disability in fictional tales told from the viewpoint of disabled characters, written by disabled creators. With stories in various genres about first loves, friendship, war, travel, and more, Unbroken will offer today's teen readers a glimpse into the lives of disabled people in the past, present, and future.

The contributing authors are award winners, bestsellers, and newcomers including Kody Keplinger, Kristine Wyllys, Francisco X. Stork, William Alexander, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Dhonielle Clayton, Heidi Heilig, Katherine Locke, Karuna Riazi, Kayla Whaley, Keah Brown, and Fox Benwell. Each author identifies as disabled along a physical, mental, or neurodiverse…

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