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30 children's books with disabled main characters

It is so important to talk about disability with our kids.

And as a parent or teacher of elementary school-aged children, Disability Book Week is the perfect time.

Books with disabled characters help increase empathy and understanding — normalizing disability, reducing stigma, and promoting inclusivity. And seeing disabled characters in books helps kids with disabilities gain confidence and feel like they belong.

These are the best books about disability for kids in preschool and elementary school. These inclusive books include characters with chromosome abnormalities, paralysis, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, Blindness, autism, limb differences, dyslexia, learning disabilities, anxiety, SMA, and more.

This adorable picture book starring Instagram’s @meetmayacat teaches children of all ages to accept those who are different by showing that we are all more alike than different. Learn all the things Maya likes to do, and who knows: you might like them, too!

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor uses her own childhood experience with diabetes show that just like a garden, where different flowers and plants make it beautiful, different types of people make our world a more wonderful place.

In this Sesame Street book, Elmo introduces Abby to his autistic friend Julia. At first, Abby doesn’t understand why Julia doesn’t say hello to her, but then Elmo explains that Julia is autistic and does things a little differently. Soon, Abby finds she has a lot in common with Julia, even though some things about them are different.

When Louis Braille lost his sight at the age of five, he was determined to learn how to read. But even at his school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him. Louis didn’t give up on his dream, and instead created his own alphabet that could be read by touch. This story, which highlights sound, smell, and touch, is sure to inspire little readers.

Macy is a girl who’s a lot like you and me, but she's also quite different, which is a great thing to be. Read her story about celebrating our differences.

A bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers and find joy and connection in disability culture and community.

Joe is deep into a game of pirates at the playground when other children begin asking him questions about why he has one leg. Joe deftly keeps the focus on play, teaching his playmates about empathy and privacy.

In this book, a sensitive boy gets overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations at the beach. Luckily, this kiddo’s dad has a trick up his sleeve to help his son face these unexpected obstacles.

Zulay is a blind first grader. She’s already learned to read and write Braille, climb trees, swim, and has a fun crew of friends. She’s learning to use a cane, and she works determinedly to run a race on Field Day.

A book about a fierce little girl who doesn’t let anything stand in her way. Maya and her dog, Abby, go on fantastic adventures, seeing new sights, and learning new skills. Sometimes, Maya faces big challenges and feels very stuck. Luckily, she knows just how mighty she is.

Younger children can find out about individual disabilities, special equipment that is available to help the disabled, and how people of all ages can deal with disabilities and live happy and full lives.

An upbeat, rhythmic tale of a young giraffe who gets evaluated for his very first wheelchair. Upon receiving his chair, Gary discovers newfound independence, zest for life, and a gigantic dream of his own.

Moriah is a little girl living with CHARGE syndrome. She continues to show just how important it is to just say ‘hiya’ when you meet someone new. Filled with humor and inspiration, the book also serves as a tool to help educate young minds on some equipment a child with special needs might require, using a picture glossary in the back.

Come along as Carolyn navigates her daily life as a first-grader. See what she can do at home, in class and even on a field trip. She’s able to do just about all the same things that any typical child can do. Sometimes she may need to do things a bit differently but that’s okay!

Relatable for any child, but especially for children experiencing anxiety and extreme emotions, or who have been diagnosed with autism, this book is about a boy who tries to cope by stuffing down his feelings. But his feelings are something to be celebrated.

Meet Otto and Piper, sweet crow siblings who enjoy the simple things that all siblings enjoy. Otto is on the Autism spectrum but they show that love, kindness and understanding go a long way.

Mimi is new at school, and everyone is excited to get to know her! She has a mobility aid. Join Mimi’s classmates as they learn about her.

When Charley goes to the playground and sees Emma, a girl with limb differences who gets around in a wheelchair, he doesn't know how to react at first. But after he and Emma start talking, he learns that different isn't bad, sad, or strange. Different is just different, and different is great!

Dragon's back legs don’t work, but that’s not what this book is about. It’s about how she feels anxious and scared all the time — and how everything always ends up okay. This book helps normalize differences and learn how to deal with big feelings.

This inclusive and empowering picture book from Sofia Sanchez, an 11-year-old model and actress with Down syndrome, reminds readers how important it is to embrace your differences, be confident, and be proud of who you are. Imagine all of the wonderful things you can do if you don't let anyone stop you!

Ivy became suddenly paralyzed in her back legs due to a rare genetic spinal disease. But that didn't stop Ivy from living life to her absolute fullest. Ivy inspires us all to never give up. Embrace your individuality. And most importantly, to always keep on rolling whatever you do, and never let anything get the better of you.

This is a true story! When the Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that would make public spaces much more accessible to people with disabilities, was proposed to Congress, Jennifer Keelan climbed up the steps of the Capitol building in Washington DC to convince them. Without her wheelchair, even though she was just a kid.

Sam, Rishi, Jay, Audrey, Ty and Zara love playing games, books, making stuff and being silly. They have things they are good at and things they need to work on. And just like kids everywhere they want to feel safe, loved and included.

Written by an autistic mother with two autistic sons, this is a colorful and engaging picture book that shares what life can look like for families who use nonverbal communication, utilizing tools to embrace their unique method of "speaking."

Join Goldie the Goat, an all-star chef with an upper limb difference. Her tacos are the talk of her small town. Encouraged by her customers’ praise, Goldie sets out with high hopes to compete in the World Famous Taco Contest. Along the way, she learns an valuable message about her self-worth.

A learning difference like dyslexia doesn’t define who you are! Despite her struggles with reading and writing, Beatrice is a natural and brilliant storyteller. With the help of a kind-hearted teacher, Beatrice uses an old-fashioned tape recorder so she can speak her words and then play them back, as a technique for learning in whole new way. This book is set in EasyReading, a dyslexia-friendly font.

Join an exuberant, boundary-pushing pup and her exasperated boy (who uses a wheelchair) in this reassuring story about unconditional love and the challenges of trying to always be on your best behavior.

When Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that.

Zara's dog, Moose, wants nothing more than to be with Zara all the time. But she has school! Through a series of escalating escapes, this loyal dog always finds her way back to Zara, and with a little bit of training and one great idea, the two friends find a way to be together all day long. Zara uses a wheelchair in this book!

Shane has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. In this book, he tackles many of the mundane and quirky questions that he’s often asked about living with a disability, and shows readers that he’s just as approachable, friendly, and funny as anyone else.

Have a book we could include?


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