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What Books to Read with Disability Representation for January 2020

Updated: Jun 23, 2021

By Margaret Kingsbury

Every month, I’m bringing you recent releases in all genres and for all ages that are about disabilities or contain good disability representation. My hope is to provide more coverage for these books and authors, and also to get these books into the hands of readers. Here are five such books releasing in January.

For counselors and teachers:

image of cover: Trauma-informed Care in Intellectual Disability

Trauma-informed Care in Intellectual Disability by Pat Frankish

January 30, Pavilion

A much-needed look at treating trauma in people with intellectual disabilities, something that has rarely been written about, unfortunately. Pat Frankish is a clinical psychologist who specializes in teaching and counseling children with trauma and intellectual disabilities.

Academic reading:

image cover: Disabled Futures: A Framework for Radical Inclusion

Disabled Futures: A Framework for Radical Inclusion by Milo W. Obourn

January 17, Temple UP

Obourn looks at the intersection between race, gender, and disability within critical theory and popular culture and shows how racism, misogyny, and ableism are entwined. They also demonstrate the possibilities of a hopeful and more radically inclusive future. Popular culture pieces examined include Lost, Octavia Butler’s work, Avatar, and Audre Lorde, among others.

For middle schoolers:

image cover: Martin McLean, Middle School Queen

Martin McLean, Middle School Queen by Alyssa Zaczek

January 7, Sterling Books

This utterly charming book depicts a seventh-grader, Martin McLean, who discovers he wants to be a drag queen like his Tío Billy. He enters a drag queen competition only to realize later that it’s the same night as his math competition, and he’s the team leader for his math group! Like the author, Martin has anxiety and panic attacks, and his best friend, Pickle, dates a wheelchair user, Violet.

A great book to teach in middle and high school:

image cover: Normal: One Kid's Extraordinary Journey

Normal: One Kid’s Extraordinary Journey by Magdalena Newman, Nathaniel Newman, and illustrated by Neil Swaab

January 14, HMH Books for Young Readers

Nathaniel Newman has severe Treacher Collins syndrome, and with humor and honesty, this memoir relates both his and his mother’s story of living with that disability. The comics between each chapter add another layer of accessibility and humor. It would be a great book to pair with Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

Fun reading for teenagers and adults:

image cover: The Night Country

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

January 7, Flatiron Books

This dark, fairytale fantasy is book two in The Hazel Wood series, which begins with The Hazel Wood. Alice Proserpine is trying to return to normal life in NYC, but the hinterland and its stories have followed her. Alice has severe anxiety and panic attacks in both books. This is one of my favorite YA fantasies, and the audiobooks are both excellent listens as well.

Which of these are you adding to your TBR?

Need more book recommendations? Check out my favorite books with disability representation in 2019, or these ten children’s picture books with disabled characters.

This post contains affiliate links


Margaret Kingsbury writes about disability representation, fantasy, science fiction, and fairy tales for Book Riot, The Bronzeville Bee, Star Trek, and more, and she’s co-creator of Baby Librarians where she, a friend, and their children write about the children’s books they love. Her fairytale fiction has been published in Nonbinary Review, Devilfish Review, and Expanded Horizons, among other places. She lives in Nashville, TN with her husband, daughter, and their many, many books. Find out more on her website and follow her on Instagram @babylibrarians or Twitter @areaderlymom.


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