The most recommended disability books

Who picked these books? Meet our 38 experts.

38 authors created a book list connected to disability, and here are their favorite disability books.
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What type of disability book?


And So, Ahmed Hears

By Dawn Doig,

Book cover of And So, Ahmed Hears

Argyro Graphy Author Of The Adventures of Bentley Hippo: Inspiring Children to Accept Each Other

From the list on how disability does not define a person.

Who am I?

I have seen a huge shift in the way others look at me and treat me since losing complete vision in one eye. I’m now labeled. It’s not fun, it’s disturbing and sad, and even though my appearance has slightly changed, I have not. “my disability does not define who I am” I may smile, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle and we can all use some kind words and encouragement and not be so judgmental.

Argyro's book list on how disability does not define a person

Why did Argyro love this book?

An amazing story of a little boy that lives and enjoys life as any other. Once discovered that he has hearing issues, and receives a hearing aid, he can enjoy life even more. A story that inspires us to be considerate of everyone as disabilities are not always visible.

By Dawn Doig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And So, Ahmed Hears as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ahmed is a little boy who spends his days with his family doing things he enjoys like going to the park and swimming in the ocean. Although he seems to be a typical two year old, mama has concerns that he may not be hearing. So off they go to the doctor and eventually to the audiologist who diagnoses a hearing loss. Fit with hearing aids, Ahmed is now able to enjoy the sounds of life. And So Ahmed Hears was written to increase public awareness about childhood hearing loss and to help alleviate some of the stigma associated with…

Everyday Hero

By Kathleen Cherry,

Book cover of Everyday Hero

Gina McMurchy-Barber Author Of Free as a Bird

From the list on heroes who have a disability.

Who am I?

I grew up in the 60s and 70s, when people were often uncomfortable with anyone who had a disability. My sister had Down syndrome and this drew a lot of negative attention. I struggled with being overprotective of her and often angry at those who treated her differently. When I grew up I became an advocate, not only for my sister, but for others who struggled with being accepted because of physical or developmental disabilities. Early on I worked in a pretty awful institution. What I learned there inspired my novel, Free as a Bird. Like my sister, I moved on to do other things, including archaeology, journalism, and teaching for 27 years.

Gina's book list on heroes who have a disability

Why did Gina love this book?

Thirteen-year-old Alice moves to a new town where no one knows she has Asperger’s syndrome. When she behaves in a way her teachers feel is inappropriate she gets sent to detention. It’s there she meets Megan, a hard-core “bad girl” who becomes the only person to make a meaningful connection with Alice. 

Alice likes rules, Megan likes to break rules. Yet somehow the two girls manage to become good friends. Megan’s home life is bad and she decides to run away. Despite the angst and the inner voice telling her not to, Alice goes with Megan to protect her.

Quote: “Is a hero average in type, appearance, achievement, function, and development?” Alice asks.

This book stands out for me because it shows that we all can “go farther” than any perceived limitation, be it developmental, physical, or emotional. 

By Kathleen Cherry,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Alice doesn’t like noise, smells or strangers. She does like rules. Lots of rules.

Nobody at her new school knows she is autistic, and soon Alice finds herself in trouble because the rules here are different. When she meets Megan in detention, she doesn’t know what to make of her. Megan doesn’t smell, she’s not terribly noisy, and she’s not exactly a stranger. But is she a friend? Megan seems fearless to Alice; but also angry or maybe sad. Alice isn’t sure which. When Megan decides to run away, Alice decides that Megan is her friend and that she needs…

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…


By Maryann Cocca-Leffler,

Book cover of Janine

Norene Paulson Author Of What's Silly Hair Day with No Hair?

From the list on children’s picture books on inclusion.

Who am I?

As a former middle school language arts teacher, I’ve witnessed firsthand the struggles some students face trying to be accepted and the heartbreak they experience when they are not. Every child deserves to be seen and appreciated for who they are and not be excluded or ostracized due to factors over which they have little control. I write and promote picture books about friendship, acceptance, and inclusion because everyone deserves to be included…always. 

Norene's book list on children’s picture books on inclusion

Why did Norene love this book?

As a middle school teacher, I knew a lot of Janines. Janine has her own style and isn’t afraid to be herself even if the “cool” kids think she’s odd. However, add in invites to a “cool” kids’ party and Janine has a problem. To attend, the “cool” kids want her to change. How far will Janine go to be included? To be included is a powerful desire but at what cost? Unfortunately, scenarios like this occur every day in classrooms across the country, but this book shines a light on the importance of looking at each person’s uniqueness through the lenses of kindness, compassion, and empathy. 

By Maryann Cocca-Leffler,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

ILA 2016 Teachers' Choices Reading List

Meet Janine. She is one of a kind! Janine dresses a little different, remembers random facts, reads the dictionary for fun, and has her own style of cheering. Nobody does things the way Janine does things! One girl in Janine's class is throwing a party and all the COOL kids are invited. But Janine is not cool. Some kids think she is strange and want her to change. Will Janine try to be different or just be her spectacular self? In this charming story, Maryann Cocca-Leffler uses her own daughter as inspiration for a…


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…

Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger

By Elizabeth Cole, Julia Kamenshikova (illustrator),

Book cover of Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger: Social Emotional Book for Kids about Diversity and Kindness

Matthew Ralph Author Of Family Means...

From the list on children’s books about diversity and inclusion.

Who am I?

I’m a British author who specializes in writing about diversity and inclusion. I’ve always been a firm believer in equality for all, and I think diversity is such a vital subject for children to learn. It’s so important to teach children to love themselves and treat others how they would want to be treated, even if they are different than you. I believe a little bit of love goes a long way. I hope you enjoy my list of children’s books about diversity and share in my passion for children’s books that champion love and acceptance for everyone.

Matthew's book list on children’s books about diversity and inclusion

Why did Matthew love this book?

This story is told in bouncy rhyme and teaches children an important message of self-love and acceptance of others. Most importantly, the message of the book is genuinely charming and heartwarming. The rich and engaging illustrations in this book are a joy to look at and perfectly fit with the theme of this book. I especially appreciate the variety of characters shown in the book: every gender, ethnicity, and body type is showcased beautifully. 

By Elizabeth Cole, Julia Kamenshikova (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Our Diversity Makes Us Stronger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you want to teach your child to accept himself and others as they are, then this picture book about diversity will be your best assistant. It will help your little ones to respect all the differences that make us unique.

In this kids’ book, our little hero named Nick will show your children that we all are different in many ways, and everyone is unique—which is great! Nicky is afraid that his friends will not accept him because of his new reading glasses. By talking to his peers on the way to school, he discovers the beauty of diversity…

Book cover of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer Author Of The Little Gate-Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen

From the list on disability awareness.

Who am I?

I'm writer, educator, disability advocate, and mother of a teenage son with multiple disabilities. Since my son’s diagnosis with autism at age three, I've been on a quest to not only understand the way that his unique brain works, but also to advocate for a more just and equitable world for people with disabilities and their families. When researching my book The Little Gate-Crasher, I discovered how much my great-grandmother was a powerful advocate for her son Mace who was born with a form of dwarfism. Our society has evolved in the last one hundred years in terms of inclusion and accessibility—and yet, people with disabilities and their loved ones are often isolated.

Gabrielle's book list on disability awareness

Why did Gabrielle love this book?

Written with clear down-to-earth language, disability advocate Emily Ladau had written a guide that could revolutionize the way that people think about disability and how to interact with people who have disabilities. Because our society has kept people with disabilities separate for so long, this kind of book is essential in leading us towards inclusion.

By Emily Ladau,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: NPR, Booklist • “A candid, accessible cheat sheet for anyone who wants to thoughtfully join the conversation . . . Emily makes the intimidating approachable and the complicated clear.”—Rebekah Taussig, author of Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary, Resilient, Disabled Body

People with disabilities are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent…

Hogan's Hope

By Connie Bombaci,

Book cover of Hogan's Hope: A Deaf Hero's Inspirational Quest for Love and Acceptance

Diane Kelly Author Of Paw Enforcement

From the list on doggedly determined dogs undaunted by disability.

Who am I?

Being “mommy” to a deaf dog has taught me so much about canine disabilities, and how intelligent and capable dogs can be despite their limitations. I enjoy reading about other people who have gone through similar experiences with their dogs. These animals don’t let their disabilities stop them from leading full, fun lives. With their determination and positive attitudes, disabled dogs make wonderful role models!

Diane's book list on doggedly determined dogs undaunted by disability

Why did Diane love this book?

I was initially drawn to this book because it features a deaf Dalmatian. My dog Reggie is also deaf and likely part Dalmatian, given her white fur and black spots. She was found as a stray puppy and taken to the city animal shelter where we adopted her. We think Reggie is also part American bull terrier. She has a very similar build to that breed, with a barrel chest, pointy ears, and distinctive eye shape. Like the author of the book, I communicate with my deaf dog using hand signals. A deaf dog learns to pay close attention, and Reggie can communicate with amazing nuance. I loved how the book portrays the relationship between a dog and its guardian as a spiritual bond. I found that aspect extremely relatable. 

By Connie Bombaci,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hogan's Hope as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gain the inspiration to hope, no matter what the circumstance, from a deaf dog’s courage to overcome the challenges, prejudices, and death sentences plaguing deaf dogs. Hogan’s heartwarming story teaches us never to give up and reveals to everyone that choosing hope can make anything possible!


By Laura Huang,

Book cover of Edge: Turning Adversity Into Advantage

Roberta Chinsky Matuson Author Of Can We Talk?: Seven Principles for Managing Difficult Conversations at Work

From the list on maximizing your talent.

Who am I?

I’m one of the world’s leading experts on the maximization of talent, who is the author of six books on leadership and talent. I’m also a LinkedIn Top Voice in Leadership and Workplace, and one of the few people who was a guest on The O’Reilly Factor, with Bill O’Reilly, who left the show unscathed.

Roberta's book list on maximizing your talent

Why did Roberta love this book?

I can’t recall the last time I read a business book in less than a week’s time. Laura’s book is so well written that I didn’t want to put it down. I loved this book so much, that I made it a point to meet the author. Laura Huang shows that success is about gaining an edge: that elusive quality that gives you an upper hand and attracts attention and support. She teaches you how to find a competitive edge when the obstacles feel insurmountable. Having met Laura, I can tell you she writes exactly how she speaks. Great book. Grab a copy.

By Laura Huang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

There's power in owning the obstacles you might face. This book shows you how to unlock it.

In an ideal world, we'd succeed based on our actual skills and performance. But in the real world, subtle perceptions and stereotypes - about appearance, race, gender, experience and more - colour others' perceptions. The result might be that your hard work isn't noticed or appreciated, your effort doesn't lead to proportional rewards and your good ideas aren't taken seriously.

But it doesn't have to be that way. As Harvard Business School Professor Laura Huang has discovered, there's a way to flip stereotypes…

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…