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Nine Books with Disability Representation (April 2020)

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

By Margaret Kingsbury

Every month, I round up new release books with disability representation. Here are April’s picks, as well as three I missed from March. It’s a great time to support authors, as many are struggling financially. It’s also a great time to catch up on reading!

Too Sticky!: Sensory Issues with Autism by Jen Malia, Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

April 1, Albert Whitman & Company

Holly loves science experiments, but she doesn’t love stickiness, whether the sticky texture comes from yummy maple syrup on her pancakes or she imagines it coating the pine trees on the way to school. In class, they’re making slime, but with the right accommodations, Holly can still participate. Both the author and her daughter are autistic with sensory issues.

Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

April 7, Harry N. Abrams

Mina has depression, something she was upfront about with her husband Oscar before they married, as she was about her bisexuality. Oscar also has a family history of trauma, so he was sympathetic to Mina. After Mina considers suicide, she and Oscar move to London in hopes that a change of scenery will help her mental state. In London, Mina befriends Phoebe, and as she begins to have feelings beyond friendship for her, she and Oscar must confront their ideals of marriage. This is a lovely novel about the complexities of relationships and mental health.

Between Fitness and Death: Disability and Slavery in the Caribbean by Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy

April 13, University of Illinois Press

Stefanie Hunt-Kennedy examines the connections between the European dehumanizing of Africans during the African Slave Trade–by labeling slaves as animalistic, monstrous, and deformed–and how those stereotypes influenced racial stereotypes of ability as well as disability representations. It’s rare to find books that examine the intersections of race and ability, which makes this a must-read for history scholars.

The Deck of Omens by Christine Lynn Herman

April 21, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

This is the second book in a YA contemporary fantasy duology that begins with The Devouring Gray. It’s an excellent series, about a group of teens who have inherited powers to protect their town from a monster. One of the teens has an anxiety disorder and another is missing a hand. With both books in the duology complete, it’s the perfect time to read them both.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

April 21, Avon

In the second book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series, a chance encounter at a restaurant turns Katrina King into a social media star, something she does not want. She flees to her bodyguard Jas Singh’s family farm to escape the attention. There, the two grapple with their mental health issues–Katrina has an anxiety disorder and Jas PTSD–while also falling in love. Each book in this romance series has different characters and plots, so they can be read in any order.

Please Don’t Hug Me by Kay Kerr

April 28, Text Publishing

In this Own Voices contemporary YA novel, Erin struggles in high school when she loses her job, fails the driver’s license test, and discovers her boyfriend might not be as into her as she is him. This is made all the worse by being on the autism spectrum and craving order. But when she and her brother–who’s been gone for a year–begin exchanging letters, she starts making sense of some of the disorder around her.

March books I missed:

The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann

March 17, Atheneum Books for Young Readers

The Degenerates is a YA historical novel that takes place in the early 20th century at The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded, where parents and relatives send their unwanted teen daughters. Four such girls form a tight bond in the school: Alice, abandoned because of her club foot; Rose, who has down syndrome; London, pregnant at 14; and Maxine, who is a lesbian. The girls want nothing more than to escape. This is a gorgeous novel where each character comes alive on the page.

The Edge of Anything by Nora Shalaway Carpenter

March 24, Running Press Kids

In this lovely and sweet YA novel, Sage, a high school volleyball star, learns she has HCM (hypertrophic cardiomyopathy) and can no longer participate in the sport she loves so much. Len, a classmate and photographer who’s recently undergone trauma, befriends her. As Len and Sage slowly become close friends, Sage discovers that Len may have trauma-induced OCD, something the author has experienced as well.

Cameron Goes to School by Sheletta Brundidge and Darcy Bell-Myers, illustrated by Darcy Bell-Myers

March 27, Beaver’s Pond Press

This is a sweet picture book about a little girl starting school and her relationship with her family, who don’t want to see her go. Cameron is African American and autistic, and she’s based on the author’s daughter. Sheletta is also the host of the Taking Authority Over Autism podcast.

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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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