Inclusive children's books

10 children's books with characters with disabilities

10 great children's books featuring characters with disabilities

It’s important for those with disabilities to feel represented in the books they read. It’s also important for books to expose children to the huge diversity of people that live and contribute to our world.

In an effort to promote this crucial representation and inclusion, we put together a list of children’s books featuring characters with disabilities. Each one on our list features main or secondary characters with a disability. Some focus on disability as the main plot. Others don’t.

While there are many amazing books out there, we chose to focus on a selection of books in which people with disabilities tell their own stories. Many of the books on this list were written by authors with a disability.

Book cover for Amazing

Amazing by Steve Anthony
Age group: Baby- 5 years

This story focuses on a boy and his pet dragon. While the main character uses a wheelchair, it is not central to the plot. It’s a great introduction to self-acceptance and diversity for younger children.

Book cover for Can Bears Ski?

Can Bears Ski? By Raymond Antrobus
Age group: 3-7 years

Author Raymond Antrobus and illustrator Polly Dunbar draw on their own experiences to tell the story of Little Bear learning about his deafness. It’s a wonderful, lyrical tale about the emotions that come with diagnosing a disability and learning to thrive with the help of family and friends.  

Book cover for All the way to the top

All the way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans With Disabilities Changed Everything  by Annette Bay Pimentel
Age group: 4-8 years

This award-winning book tells the story of Jennifer Keelan-Chaffins and her determination to make a change. Born with cerebral palsy, Jennifer participated in the Capital Crawl to help convince congress to pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. Along with a truly inspiring story, the book also features a forward by Jennifer and history about the disability rights movement. 

Book cover for Six Dots

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant
Age group: 4-8 years

Another award-winning entry on the list, this book provides a beautifully illustrated history of Louis Braille and his journey to invent the braille communication system. In addition to being an encouraging tale of tenacity and determination, it provides an introduction to the braille system. 

Book cover for Rescue and Jessica

Rescue & Jessica by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
Age group: 5-9 years

Inspired by a real-life partnership, this book tells the story of a girl and her service dog. It provides a heartwarming look at adversity, teamwork and companionship. It also provides added information about service dogs and the incredible work they do.   

Book cover for Thank you Mr Falker

Thank you Mr Falker by Patricia Polacco
Age group: 5-8 years

Inspired by the author’s own experience, this story is about a young girl with dyslexia and one teacher who believed in her ability to succeed. It explores the struggle and emotion children with learning disabilities can face, while illustrating the value of support, understanding and encouragement.   

Book cover for The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca
Age group: 5-10 years

This unique book is part of a series that focuses on amazing scientists. It tells the story of Dr Temple Grandin – a world-renowned scientist with autism. Her unique way of seeing the world helped her make groundbreaking discoveries in animal behavior. In addition to its lyrical prose, the book offers a complete biography of Dr Grandin, fun facts and a timeline of her achievements. 

Book cover for Not so Different

Not So Different: What You Really Want to Ask About Having a Disability by Shane Burcaw
Age group: 6-9 years

This is a look at author Shane Burcaw’s life in which he uses humor and honesty to normalize disability for kids. The book features an FAQ approach, covering many of the questions he’s asked about living with a disability. It’s a unique approach to demonstrating that people with disabilities are just as approachable and friendly as everyone else.  

Book cover for I am not a Label

I am not a Label by Cerrie Burnell
Age group: 6-12 years

Featuring beautiful illustrations, this book is a collection of mini biographies of artists, thinkers, athletes and activists with disabilities from the past and present. Each person is a leader in their field and their stories challenge preconceptions of disabilities and mental health.

Book cover for El Deafo

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Age group: 8-12 years

This is an award-winning graphic novel in which author Cece Bell provides a loose autobiographical account of her experiences with her deafness. It’s a funny, smart and heartwarming tale of the emotional ups and downs that come with living with a disability while trying to fit in.