Disability in kids’ books – a list by two real life disabled publishing people

Introducing our 6 favourite kids’ books featuring disability, picked by actual disabled people working in children’s publishing. (Ahem. Us.)

A pile of books with two small girls - our daughters - just visible playing on the wheelchair in the background.
Text reads: Disability in kidlit: our top 6.
The list of books under this is exactly the same as the list in the body of the text.

We’ll be posting a full review of each of these books weekly here and on instagram – watch this space.

Own voices books are marked *

El Deafo *

Mama Zooms

This Beach Is Loud! *

Frida Kahlo: Little People, Big Dreams

A Kids’ Book About Disabilities *

I Am Not A Label *

Our main, overarching criterion was this. If our girls were disabled, would we read them this book? This simplified things – a lot.

It’s enormously clarifying looking at books through this lens. Books that so nearly got it right – we wanted to include them – when we thought about it this way, got a clear no.

Our choices are subjective of course – we don’t claim to speak for all disabled people. And both our disabilities are visible & affect mobility. So that’s our bias.

But we’d really urge everyone to think about kids’ books & disability this way. Judging by the blurbs on Amazon – which often say ‘perfect for the sibling of a disabled child’ – most kids’ books about disability aren’t written for disabled readers.

And if they’re not good enough a reflection of the disabled experience to read to disabled children… In the end, do we really want our non-disabled kids reading them?

We tried to stick as closely to picturebooks as possible – we’ve included a couple which aren’t strictly picturebooks, but no novels.

We also prioritised own voices & only considered books which centre disabled characters. Not because disabled secondary or incidental characters aren’t important, but that wasn’t our focus.

If you want to recommend a book in the comments (more relevant on instagram than here really), we should just mention:

a) we’ve read a lot of what’s out there, there may be a reason we’ve not recommended your fave.

b) we work in publishing – with occasional exceptions we don’t want to explain why some books didn’t work for us in a public forum. I know that’s annoying (for us too!) but there are very good intentions behind a lot of these books – the ones we feel don’t quite hit the mark – & their authors & editors are often our colleagues.

These are great books. Enjoy!

Lucy & James Catchpole

This text was firstposted on instagram on the 8th August 2020

If you’d like to support what we do, here’s an affiliate link to Bookshop – where you can buy most of the books on our KidLitCripCrit list.

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