KidLitCripCrit. 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.)

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

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.

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 was first posted on instagram on the 8th August 2020

If you’d like to support what we do, here are affiliate links to Bookshop UK and Bookshop US – where you can buy most of the books on our KidLitCripCrit list. And James has written a book too – What Happened To You?

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