Ten More Books With Disability Representation You Should Read
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
By Margaret Kingsbury
March (2020) has a lot of books with disability representation published! Check out these ten, and if you’re looking for more, check out my roundups from earlier in the year.
Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc
March 3, Coach House Books
One of my favorite books with disability representation of 2020 so far, this is a truly amazing memoir of living with cerebral palsy combined with an analysis of fairytales and critical disability theory.
Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
March 3, Scholastic
This is a fantastic #ownvoices middle grade novel about autistic sixth-grader Tally feeling the pressure to be ‘normal.’ Author Libby Scott is autistic and was eleven-years-old when she co-wrote this novel with middle grade writer Rebecca Westcott.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
March 3, Scholastic
Another excellent #ownvoices middle grade novel from Scholastic, this one, by deaf author and librarian Ann Clare LeZotte, is a historical fiction set in a deaf community on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 19th century, based on true events. The protagonist, Mary, is deaf like many in this community and communicates with sign language. After her brother dies, a scientist visits the island, trying to discover why so many are deaf. Mary becomes his living specimen. There’s also growing tensions between her community and the indigenous Wampanoag people.
All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Annette Bay Pimentel, Illustrated by Nabi Ali, Forward by Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins
March 10, Sourcebooks Explore
This is one of my most anticipated children’s books of the year. It tells the story of Jennifer Keelan’s childhood, and her participation in the historic Capitol Crawl protest, where wheelchair users crawled up the stairs of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the necessity of the Americans with Disabilities Act, in 1990. This book is essential for elementary-aged readers.
The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, Illustrated by Manuel Preitano
March 10, DC Comics
“The Oracle Code is an unapologetically disabled story,” said author Marieke Nijkamp in an interview with We Need Diverse Books. “[E]very reader deserves to see themselves as the hero.” Nijkamp goes on to describe how her own experience with a physical disability and in rehabilitation led her to write Barbara Gordon’s origin story as Oracle, the wheelchair user hacker superhero. The YA graphic novel also deals with the trauma of a sudden disability. This is such a fun read.
Our House Is on Fire: Scenes of a Family and a Planet in Crisis by Greta Thunberg, Svante Thunberg, Malena Ernman, and Beata Ernman
March 17, Penguin Books
At age eleven, Greta Thunberg stopped speaking or eating and refused to go to school. This book, written by her and her entire family (mainly her mother Malena), describes what it’s like to have two learning different children in a school ill-equipped to handle them and how Greta’s strike led the family to become climate activists. A must-read.
The Upside of Being Down: How Mental Health Struggles Led to My Greatest Successes in Work and Life by Jen Gotch
March 24, Gallery Books
Jen Gotch, the founder of the lifestyle and clothing company Ban.do, has been diagnosed and misdiagnosed with various conditions since she was a child. This memoir tells the story of her lifetime of mental health struggles and how her mental illnesses actually inspired her creativity and led her to create a successful business. This is both an uplifting and funny read.
What Stars Are Made Of by Sarah Allen
March 31, Farrar, Straus and Giroux
This debut #ownvoices middle grade novel is about Libby Monroe, who was born with Turner Syndrome, and her devotion to her family and love of science. It’s a delightful read.
Can I Play Too? by Samantha Cotterill
March 31, Dial Books
This #ownvoices picture book in the Little Senses series helps young children on the autism spectrum or with a sensory processing disorder (or any child) understand social-emotional cues. It’s the third book in the series. The other books in the series are Nope. Never. Not for Me. and This Beach is Loud!. They’re such great reads for children!
Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny
March 31, The Experiment
Anna Mehler Paperny combines her memoir of living with depression and her multiple suicide attempts with research and interviews with scientists, neurologists, and psychiatrists to discover what we do and do not know about depression and mental illness. I haven’t read this yet, but it looks like a fascinating read.
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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.