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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Trendell

Some of Our Faves: Books with All-Ability Representation


The Henderson Inclusion school is a K-12 school in Dorchester that is fully inclusive, meaning students with disabilities are in classes alongside students without disabilities. When it comes to children’s literature, there is a lack of representation of kids with disabilities. According to Pew Research Center, 15% of all public school students have a disability, however, a survey conducted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center found that only 3.4% of books contained disabled representation. It is vital for children to see themselves in the books they read because it helps them feel validated and recognized. Diversity in children’s literature also teaches kids to appreciate different perspectives. In this fashion, we have created a list of all-ability inclusive children’s books:


This Beach is Loud!

By Samantha Cotterill (Author and Illustrator)

Grade Level: K-1

  • A day at the beach turns into sensory overload for a child on the autism spectrum. His dad teaches him different tricks to help him overcome these sensory obstacles. 


Hello Goodbye Dog

By Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton

Grade Level: K-2

  • This book centers around Zara, who uses a wheelchair, and her dog, Moose. Moose always wants to be around Zara, so he is constantly finding ways to escape the house and follow her to school. The two friends find a way to be together all day long. 


The Black Book of Colors

By Menina Cottin

Grade Level: K-2

  • This book is a window into the world of those who are vision-impaired. The author uses imagery to describe colors and illustrations with raised lines, which can be decoded through touch. Braille letters also accompany the text of the book.


Emmanuel’s Dream

By Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls

Grade Level: K-3

  • Emmanuel’s Dream is a true story about Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born in Ghana with a missing leg. His dream to become a cyclist is dismissed by many as something he will not be able to achieve because of his disability, but this does not stop him. This book follows his journey to achieve his dream and the challenges he faced along the way. 


Out of My Mind

By Sharon M Draper

Grade Level: 4-6

  • Melody is an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. She cannot walk, talk or write, but she has a photographic memory. Many think she is mentally challenged, but she is actually the smartest kid in her class. She finds alternative ways to communicate to prove to her teachers and peers that her disability does not define her. 


Wonder

By R.J. Palacio

Grade Level: 5-7

  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller, Wonder is about Auggie Pullman, a boy born with facial differences. After being homeschooled all of his life, Auggie starts 5th grade, where he encounters bullying from his classmates because he looks different than everyone else. Wonder highlights the ups and downs of being a kid in middle school, especially with a physical disability. 


Mockingbird

By Kathryn Erskine

Grade Level 6-7

  • Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, loses her brother in a school shooting. She struggles to pick up on social cues and sees things as black and white, anything in between is confusing to her. She has trouble coping with her feelings about her brother’s death, but begins making friends with other kids and learns how to identify her emotions. 


Not if I See You First

By Eric Lindstorm

Grade Level: High School

  • Parker Grant got into a car accident when she was a kid, where she lost her mom and her vision. Three months prior to the start of the book, her dad suddenly passed away and her aunt and cousins moved in with her. The book centers around her adjustment to new people in her life and some from the past who are reappearing.


Turtles All the Way Down

By John Green

Grade Level: High School

  • Turtles All the Way Down is a tale of what it’s like to live with obsessive compulsive disorder. The main character, Aza Holmes, and her best friend pursue the disappearance of a fugitive billionaire, while Aza tries to manage her spiraling thoughts.


Made You Up

By Francesca Zappia

Grade Level: High School

  • Alex, who has schizophrenia, is a high school student who struggles to tell the difference between reality and delusion. She is managing the stresses of college applications, friend drama, boy drama, and whatever else high school has thrown at her. 


On the Edge of Gone

By Corinne Duyvis

Grade Level: High School

  • This sci-fi novel focuses on Denise, who is autistic. Her and her family are preparing for January 29, 2035, the day the comet is supposed to hit Earth. There is a ship that is scheduled to leave Earth and settle on new planets before the comet hits, but everyone on the ship is chosen for their usefulness. Denise fears that she will not be allowed on the ship because of her autism. The novel begs the question: When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter the most? 


Written By: Stephanie Trendell


Sources:

Schaeffer, Katherine. “What Federal Education Data Shows about Students with Disabilities in the U.S.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 24 July 2023, www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2023/07/24/what-federal-education-data-shows-about-students-with-disabilities-in-the-us/

Tyner, Madeline. “The Numbers Are in: 2019 CCBC Diversity Statistics.” CCBlogC, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, 16 June 2020, ccblogc.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-numbers-are-in-2019-ccbc-diversity.html

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