UK Based Travel & Disabled Blogger

Search

21 Must-Read Children’s Books That Feature Characters With Disabilities

All disabled children should see accurate representations of themselves in toys, media, and books. It’s also important for non-disabled children to learn about disabilities and the diversity of our world through books to help shape how they view the world.

In this post, you’ll find some of the 21 best children’s books that feature characters with disabilities, promoting positive representation and inclusion.

Each book has a different topic and plot, with a range of characters that children may identify with.

A collage showing five childrens books. Text in the centre reads "20 children's books about disability".

Disclosure: This article includes affiliate links. If you decide to purchase books through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

1. The Christmasaurus

The Christmasaurus book showing a boy riding a blue dinosaur on the snow

The perfect festive read for the whole family. The Christmasaurus tells the tale of a young boy named William Trundle, who is a wheelchair user, and a dinosaur called the Christmasaurus. They meet on Christmas Eve and go on an epic adventure to see Santa Claus. It’s about believing that everything may be possible and fulfilling your true heart’s desire.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher is available to buy here


2. My Brother Charlie

My Brother Charlie book shows an illustration of a sister hugging her brother as well as a side profile of a brown dog.

With the help of her daughter Ryan, bestselling novelist and actress Holly Robinson Peete wrote “My Brother Charlie,” The story is based on Ryan’s experience growing up with an autistic twin.

My Brother Charlie is available to buy here


3. Ali and the Sea Stars

Ali and the Sea Stars book with an illustration of a young girl in a wheelchair with her friends.

Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker portrays the excitement and sense of camaraderie in theatre. The story centres on an ambitious girl in a wheelchair who puts on a play for her hometown. It is based on the summer Ali appeared in her first musical by the Jersey Shore. Ali must utilise her creativity and adapt when a storm threatens to ruin all their hard work.

Ali and the Sea Stars is available to buy here


4. Pop & Pip: A Decodable Story

Pop & Pip: A Decodable Story book shows an illustration of a young girl and her dog.

Jessica Kelley, an elementary school teacher, has created a beginner reader book that is dyslexia-friendly and tells the sweet story of a spirited young girl named Pip, who uses a wheelchair, and her lovable dog. Together, they embark on a fun day out, but encounter a few challenges along the way. This unique book includes a vocabulary page with words sorted by phonics pattern, decodable words in a dyslexia-friendly font for accessibility, concise sentences that make the story easy to follow, foundational phonics patterns, and carefully chosen words. Additionally, there are engaging activities at the end of the story.

Pop & Pip: A Decodable Story is available to buy here


5. Uniquely Me

Uniquely Me book shows an illustration of a young boy with ginger hair and one hand. He is smiling and holds his arms up.

Being different is a worry for every child. But author Trace Wilson was inspired to write about being born without a right hand and wrote the story of a brave young boy who sets out on an exciting adventure and discovers how to embrace and love his limb difference.

Uniquely Me is available to buy here


6. My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay book shows an illustration of Zulay holding her walking cane with her three friends at school.

This book’s lead character, Zulay, is blind and is learning to walk with a cane, which she doesn’t want to use. In her primary school class, she wants to be treated equally with the other students. Zulay is encouraged to work hard because she wants to run a race in her new pink sneakers when their teacher mentions an upcoming field day. She achieves her goal of taking part in a field day race through determination and the help of her three closest friends.

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay is available to buy here



7. Amazing

Amazing children's book cover with an illustration of a young boy in a wheelchair with his friends following behind

A little boy in a wheelchair and his pet dragon have an uncommon bond that is celebrated in this picture book for kids. They explore everywhere together and share knowledge with one another. Zibbo the dragon may be unique, but even so, he is magnificent.

Amazing by Steve Antony is available to buy here


8. Silent Lotus

Silent Lotus book shows an illustration of a young Asian girl with black hair. The background is covered in lotus flowers.

In this tale set in Kampuchea, now known as Cambodia, the main character, Lotus, was born deaf and unable to speak. Her parents adore her, but she doesn’t have any friends. The other children either avoid her or ignore her. She is quite lonely but likes basket weaving, strolling in wetlands, and mimicking herons. The King and Queen then offer Lotus the chance to learn how to dance with royal dancers. Her flawless dancing made her the court’s most well-known dancer.

Silent Lotus is available to buy here


9. Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome

Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome book shows an illustration of a young girl with Down Syndrome looking in a mirror. She is wearing a tiara.

This story focuses on the life of a young person with Down syndrome who aspires to be your friend. Despite having a different appearance than most kids, Lynn shares many of their interests and dislikes. This story is to help children learn what it means to accept and cherish a friendship with people who have a disability. The author, Lisa Tompkins wrote this book after being inspired by her daughter, who has Down syndrome.

Why Are You Looking at Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome is available to buy here


10. What Happened to You?

What Happened to You? book shows an illustration of a young boy with one leg standing on a swing.

This charming picture book tells the story of Joe, a young boy who enjoys playing pirates while dodging sharks and crocodiles. Although he would really like to play with other kids, they are only interested in what happened to his leg as Joe only has one leg. This funny book helps children understand what it might feel like to be seen as different.

What Happened to You? is available to buy here

11. Mama Zooms

Mama Zooms book shows an illustration of a mother and son smiling and waving their arms in the air.

The relationship between a disabled mother and her child is beautifully shown in this story. They go about their days in her wheelchair, living life and having amazing adventures.

Mama Zooms is available to buy here


12. Emmanuel’s Dream

Emmanuel's Dream book shows an illustration of a boy riding his bike with one leg.

“Emmanuel’s Dream” is based on the true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, a Ghanaian athlete and disability rights campaigner who was born with one deformed leg. “Emmanuel had one powerful limb, a smart mind, and a brave heart.” His mother encouraged him to pursue his aspirations, but after she passed away, he decided to spread his powerful message: “Disability is not inability.” Emmanuel continues to be a disability rights activist.

Emmanuel’s Dream is available to buy here


13. Hello Goodbye Dog

Hello Goodbye Dog book shows an illustration of a girl in a wheelchair with her dog.

A bi-racial girl who uses a wheelchair is the subject of the story in Hello, Goodbye Dog. But neither racism nor disability are topics covered in the book. It focuses on the girl’s bond with the dog who adores her.

Hello, Goodbye Dog is available to buy here


14. The Animal Boogie

The Animal Boogie books shows an illustration on various animals in the jungle.

In this vibrant rhyming book, children from various ethnic origins and physical disabilities interact with animals in the forest. Children are encouraged to participate in the movements as they sing or read along to the catchy tune. The song accompanying the book has a CD version with the voice of children’s singer Fred Penner.

The Animal Boogie is available to buy here


15. Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged

Benny Doesn't Like To Be Hugged book shows an illustration of a a boy and girl running in a park flying kites.

“Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged” highlights the unique traits of Benny, who has autism. Narrated by Benny’s friend using rhyming verse to describe his unique traits because “true friends accept each other just the way they are.” A sweet tale that teaches young readers to value and embrace diversity.

Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged is available to buy here


16. Slug Days

Slug Days book shows an illustration of a young girl holding an empty cone with ice cream on the ground. She looks sad.

The ups and downs of school and home life for Lauren, who has autism, are highlighted in this book. Although Lauren has never been good at making friends, she finds that a new student needs her as a friend. Bestselling author Sara Leach writes Lauren’s endearing story with kindness and humour before releasing her into a new chapter of life with a new companion.

Slug Days is available to buy here


17. Meeting Mimi

Meeting Mimi book shows an illustration of a young girl using a walking frame in the classroom.

“Meeting Mimi” is about a young girl who uses a walker, and follows her as she navigates a new school and meets new classmates.

Meeting Mimi is available to buy here


18. Dancing with Daddy

Dancing with Daddy book shows a man in a suit dancing with his daughter who is a wheelchair user.

This picture book follows Elsie, a young girl who uses a wheelchair for getting around, a gastrostomy tube for eating, and a Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display book for communication. Elsie is looking forward to a dance with her father and is thrilled to wear her new red dress and bow. She worries that the event may be postponed as the snow falls. Positive news arrives in the morning, though, and she, her dad, and her sisters dance the night away.

Dancing with Daddy is available to buy here


19. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures books shows an illustration of a girl with brown curly hair. Various objects including a cow, space rocket, woman riding a horse and various other pictures are displayed around the page.

This is the first book in an educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism as a child and grew up to be one of the most influential figures in contemporary science. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography of Dr Temple Grandin, fun facts, a colourful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures is available to buy here


20. Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You book with an illustration of a child pushing a wheelbarrow.

It can be difficult to feel different, especially as a child. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote this book about children with all kinds of disabilities and examines the unique abilities the children have using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes. As they collaborate to create a community garden, the kids ask each other questions as they go.

Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You is available to buy here


21. Lyla and her Wheelchair

Lyla and her Wheelchair book with an illustration of a young girl in a wheelchair with butterflies next to her.

Written by disabled author Lisa Shardlow, the story follows Lyla, a young girl who enjoys doing the same things as everyone else; she just does them a little differently as she uses a wheelchair. She goes to school and has fun adventures with her friends. Along the way, Lyla will help teach young readers that “using a wheelchair doesn’t make you any different from everyone else.” The book’s amazing graphics were all created by the author, Lisa, who is also a digital artist and wheelchair user. There are fun colouring pages included in the paperback version.

Lyla and her Wheelchair is available to buy here


I’ll be updating this list on an ongoing basis as and when I discover new children’s books about disability or that feature characters with disabilities. In the meantime, if you can recommend any good children’s books about disability that are not included in this article, please get in touch with me via email or leave a comment below.

Where Next: You Might Also Enjoy

Disabled Barbie Dolls & Inclusive Toys Promote Social Inclusion

The Fundamentals of Caring Movie Review

10 Simple & Awesome Halloween Costumes for Wheelchair Users

Save ’21 Must-Read Children’s Books That Feature Characters With Disabilities’ to read later

Don’t miss a thing!

Follow me on Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube’ | Pinterest

Sharing is caring!

Picture of Meet Emma

Meet Emma

Hello I’m Emma. My mission is to show you the possibilities of accessible travel through my travel guides, tips and reviews. I also share personal stories, live event reviews and more.

Like what I'm doing?
Search

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.