Here’s our first review of our top 6 kids’ books featuring disability – KidLitCripCrit as we’re calling it. (Unpronounceable, but we couldn’t resist.) This one is own voices – the author is a wheelchair user. As am I.
Do see our full list too, if you haven’t already.
Imagine the best primary school teacher you can, also a wheelchair user, giving your kids a perfectly pitched TED talk about disability – A Kids Book About Disabilities is that, in book form.
To be honest, we were dubious. A picture book format with no pictures? On disability?
But this book WORKS.
Kristine Napper’s writing is witty, never patronising, and utterly on point.
Something we get rather tired of when it comes to disability is the “everybody’s special!” thing. Here, the message instead is “disability is normal”.
Interestingly, instead of saying “don’t ask questions”, she points out that some questions aren’t nice, eg “what happened to you?” or “tell me how you use the bathroom?”.
We read it with Mainie, who as the proud owner of 2 disabled parents is pretty sure she knows everything a non-disabled person can about disability. She’s also 5 and likes pictures – a lot.
But she was hooked to the end, and said we should really just give this book to all the people who ask Daddy questions. (A pretty good plan, but might get expensive.)
The design is fantastic. We work in children’s publishing and it’s very hard to imagine this book coming out of the mainstream. The typography does all the work that illustrations usually would. In fact the message and typography on some pages are so effective they could easily be posters.
We’d be sceptical if we hadn’t read the book, but especially as a book to read with your child – which is the intention – it really, really works. We’re planning to get a copy for Mainie’s school.
It came out in summer 2020, it’s a US publication & was not super easy to find – we got our copy from Bon Tot but since then it seems to have vanished – which is a great shame. Good books centring disability are so very rare already, it makes me quite despondent when one actually appears and then isn’t widely available.
Lucy and James Catchpole
(Originally posted on Instagram on August the 16th 2020.)
A Kids Book About Disabilities is available here, though whether they ship internationally I’m not sure – A Kids Book About Disabilities – A Kids Book About™
Image 1: The book is propped next to James’s prosthetic leg. Text reads: our top 6, own voices review – own voices book, & book title & author (as in post).
Image 2: A double page spread of the book lying open. The words read: ‘But some questions aren’t nice. Some are kinda mean. Questions like….. “What’s wrong with you?” “Tell me how you use the bathroom?” “What happened to you?” “Can you have babies?”
Image 3: Mainie, a 5 year old white girl, is standing in the countryside holding a blue book with a dramatic white typeface – A Kids Book About Disabilities. She’s holding James’s black crutches and looks very pleased with herself. Text reads – disability in kidlit, own voices reviews, #KidLitCripCrit, @thecatchpoles.
Image 4: Viola sits grumpily in James’s prosthetic leg. The book is propped next to her. Text reads: ‘A very good book indeed. Bit sophisticated for a one year old’]