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Top Books on Disability Diversity and Inclusion for Every Age

By Tali Cohen Carrus, Senior Director of Programs

Authentic representation of Disability in media is so important. It ensures that children grow up with role models who experience the world in relatable ways. It normalizes difference and disability as a natural, valuable part of human existence. In honor of JDAIM (Jewish Disability Awareness, Acceptance and Inclusion Month), we compiled a list of some of our current favorite books for children and young adults of all ages. 

Ages 0-2

On The Go by Brook Sitgraves Turner and Archaa Shrivastav

This board book is full of beautiful photos featuring children with various disabilities and mobility aids, offering an opportunity for our youngest children to see bodies that are similar to and different from their own and to ask questions without stigma or judgement. See another book in the same series, How We Eat, to continue the conversation with your little one.  

Cover of book On The Go by Brook Sitgraves Turner and Archaa Shrivastav.

Ages 3-5

More than Words, So Many Ways to Say What We Mean by Roz MacLean

A stunning depiction of communication diversity, this newly-released book emphasizes that everyone has something to say, even if they do not communicate in traditional ways. People may communicate in different ways –through body language, sign language, facial expressions, singing, writing, speaking, and more – but we all share a desire for connection and to be understood. With an educational guide in the back, this book is a wonderful conversation-starter about ensuring that all members of our community have access to meaningful communication.  

Cover page for book Ages 3-5: More than Words, So Many Ways to Say What We Mean by Roz MacLean

Grades K-2

Both of these new titles released in 2023 are excellent; I couldn’t pick just one! Written by authors with authentic lived experiences of the disabilities depicted, these books are what those authors wish they’d had on their bookshelves when they were younger. 

Can Bears Ski? By Richmond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar

In Can Bears Ski?, readers follow along as the protagonist experiences the world through his senses, visits an audiologist, and tries out hearing aids for the first time.  

Cover page of book Can Bears Ski

A Day with No Words by Tiffany Hammond

In A Day with No Words, readers are introduced to a day in the life of an Autistic family that communicates using various Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools. 

Cover page of book a Day with No Words

Grades 3-5:

I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists from Past and Present by Cerrie Burnell

Filled with short, illustrated biographies of iconic figures from past and present, this resource offers many opportunities for student learning. Try using the jigsaw method – break students up into small groups and assign each group one biography to read and discuss together. Then mix up the groups and have the students share what they learned with their peers. Alternatively, use this resource as the jumping-off point for a longer project: assign each student to research a different individual and represent their learning in a way that is exciting and meaningful to them. Filled with many different representations of varied life experiences, this book is sure to challenge preconceived notions of disability and mental health.  

Cover page of book I Am Not a Label: 34 Disabled Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists from Past and Present by Cerrie Burnell

Grades 6-8

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling 

This book has great disability representation, specifically Tourette’s and limb differences, as well as a plot which doesn’t center around disability. Follow along as Aven Green, who was born without arms, moves across the country, navigates the challenges of middle school, makes new friends, and encounters a tantalizing mystery. Readers will appreciate the protagonist’s sense of humor and become quickly engrossed in the story’s mystery plot. 

Cover page of book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

Grades 9-12

Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults) by Alice Wong

This book has great disability representation, specifically Tourette’s and limb differences, as well as a plot which doesn’t center around disability. Follow along as Aven Green, who was born without arms, moves across the country, navigates the challenges of middle school, makes new friends, and encounters a tantalizing mystery. Readers will appreciate the protagonist’s sense of humor and become quickly engrossed in the story’s mystery plot. 

Cover page of book disability visability