6 Excellent Books With Disabled Characters For Older Kids

On my quest to find books with disabled characters to read with my kids (or for them to read on their own), these are six excellent ones. These are all books Ben and Max have enjoyed (who are 12 and 10 years old). Some are written by disabled people. All have engaging storylines and vivid characters for kids (and adults, to be honest) who are ready for longer books.

They are all available to buy on my bookshop.org page here

  1. El Deafo by Cece Bell (Own Voice)

A graphic novel telling Cece’s own story of starting school with a hearing aid.

2. The Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton (Own Voice)

A debut novel about a home for disabled people who don’t feel they belong, with a sprinkling of magic and a lot of adventure.

3. The Right Way to Rock by Nat Amoore

An engaging story about families, musicals and the friendship between Mac and his friend Flynn, who has Tourette’s syndrome.

4. Cyborg Cat series by Ade Adepitan (Own Voice)

Based on Ade’s life, short novels about Ade making friends as a disabled child who has just moved to the UK. Funny and football heavy.

5. Wonder by RJ Palacio

Best-selling novel about a boy with facial differences navigating challenges at home and school. Bit schmaltzy in parts, and pulls at your heartstrings.

6. The Ghost of Grania O’Malley by Michael Morpurgo

Jessie (who has cerebral palsy)  is trying to help save the landscape around her home, with the help of a ghostly pirate queen.

10 Brilliant Picture Books With Disabled Characters

These are 10 of the best books featuring disabled characters that I’ve read to my kids. They cover a range of characters and impairments. Molly (age 6) loves or has loved all of these and my older sons did too when they were younger. Some are written or illustrated by disabled people, but not all.

Most are available to buy on my bookshop.org page here

1. What Happened to You? by James Catchpole & Karen George (buy here)
This is about a boy who has one leg and people, particularly other kids, keep asking him about what happened to his leg. It’s written by James Catchpole who is a disabled author.

2. Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher (buy here)
Molly, my daughter absolutely loves this. The mother in the book goes on lots of imaginary adventures in her wheelchair. Really fun.

3. Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus & Polly Dunbar (buy here)
This is about a bear who realises he is deaf, written by Raymond Antrobus who is a poet, writer and is deaf himself. Has brilliant illustrations by Polly Dunbar.

4. When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb & Merrilee Liddiard (buy here)
When Charley met Emma is about a girl who uses a wheelchair and has limb differences. The author has a daughter similar to the character in the book. A lot about kids how talk to Emma about her differences.

5. The Girl Who Thought In Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca & Daniel Rieley (buy here)
This has more words than some of the others and is a bit longer. It’s about Temple Grandin who is autistic and is an incredible inventor. It’s about how autism makes her who she is and successful at what she does.

6. Hiya Moriah by Victoria Nelson & Boddz (buy here)
Molly also loves this one. It has a fun rhyming text, but also quite a bit of detail about the equipment that Moriah uses. My kids have really liked being able to see equipment like feeding tubes in a book.

7. I Am Not A Label by Cerrie Burnell & Lauren Baldo (buy here)
This has profiles of lots of different activists and successful people throughout history. It has more text that some of the others in this list – I’ve read it more to the boys than I have to Molly.

8. The Abilities In Me – Tube Feeding by Gemma Keir & Adam Walker-Parker (buy here)
There are lots of different books in this series. This one has rhyming text about about feeding tubes.

9. We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch, Anne McGuire, Eduardo Trejos (buy here)
This is written by disabled writers and has themes of disability justice with beautiful illustrations – lots of people, different kinds of mobility aids, different kinds of impairments.

10. Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis, Tony Ross (buy here)
This one is a bit simpler and Molly’s probably a bit old for it now, but she really liked it when she was younger. It’s not specified whether Susan has a diagnosis, but implies she finds some things difficult and others joyful.

10 Brilliant Picture Books For Young Children With Disabled Characters

Updated from previous list!

I think these are ten of the best picture books for young children which have disabled characters. They cover a range of characters and impairments. My daughter Molly (age 5) loves all of these but they’re a bit too young for my sons Max (age 9) and Ben (age 11). Some of them are only available secondhand. Some are published in the UK and some are American. Let me know if you have any other books with disabled characters that you love!

I have put buying links where I can, but of course some of them will be available from your local bookshop (you could try my favourite one here)

1 What Happened to You? by James Catchpole & Karen George

Funny, engaging about how a boy, Joe, copes with being asked questions about why he only has one leg. Making friends, imaginary adventures, plus helpful advice for parents about inquisitive children at the back.

Link to buy here

2 Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

A mother pushes her child around on her lap in her wheelchair – pretending to be a racehorse, an airplane, a spaceship. ‘Mama’s got a zooming machine and she zooms me everywhere.’ Fun, fond, wheelchair-positive.

Link to buy here

3 When Charley Met Emma by Amy Webb & Merrilee Liddiard

Charley meets Emma, a girl with limb differences, and learns that different is okay. ‘’That’s right!’ Emma said. ‘I am a little differenter than you, but I’m a lot the same too!’’ Catchy language and charming illustrations.

Link to buy here

4 Mermaid by Cerrie Burnell & Laura Ellen Anderson

Sylvia teaches Luka how to swim and they become friends. ‘Why are you in a wheelchair?’ they murmured. ‘Because she’s a mermaid!’ cried Luka, ‘and she comes from a palace beneath the sea.’’ Fantastical yet relatable story.

Link to buy here

5 I’m Special by Jen Green & Mike Gordon

Sarah uses a wheelchair and introduces her friends Jo, who loves science and can’t see well, and Ben, who loves swimming and can’t hear. She talks about how people treat her and feeling cross. Introduces lots of different impairments with amusing illustrations. Can be bought secondhand online.

6 We’ll Paint The Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen & Pam DeVito

Emma has a new baby brother and he has Down syndrome. Her dad says this means he’ll be able to do all the things Emma wants him to do, perhaps differently. Illustrations feel a little dated, but opens up good discussions.

Link to buy here

7 The Adventures of Team Super Tubie by Kristin Meyer & Kevin Cannon

The three superheroes all have different feeding tubes which make them strong enough to fight fires, rescue princesses and catch bandits. Three stories in one book with overlapping themes.

8 Hiya Moriah  by Victoria Nelson & Boddz

Moriah talks about her stays in hospital, her feeding tube, tracheostomy, sign language, and what she enjoys. Comprehensive and age-appropriate explanation of equipment. ‘An aid in my ear also helps me to hear, but shh! At clean-up time, I make it disappear!’ 

Link to buy here

9 Through The Eyes of Me by Jon Roberts & Hannah Rounding

Kya is autistic and talks about all the things she likes and doesn’t like. ‘I love reading books and looking at stickers. But be careful, I also enjoy ripping them up.’ 

Link to buy here

10 Simply Mae by Kyle Fiorelli & Kellan Roggenbuck

Mae has a walker named Wendy which helps her go on brilliant adventures. ‘Little Mae along with trusty Wendy, can always be found in the backyard at play.’ Clear, bright illustrations.

Link to buy here

7 Brilliant Books For Primary Age Children With Disabled Characters

This is the second post in a series. The first, 10 Brilliant Books for Young Children with Disabled Characters is here.

I continue to spend a lot of time trying to find books (and comics) which have disabled characters and these are seven of the best for primary school age kids. They cover a range of characters and impairments. I’d say they’d suit roughly ages 5-8. These are a bit too long or complicated for Molly (age 4) but have been good for Max (now 8) and some are still interesting for Ben (age 10). Let me know if you know of any other books with disabled characters that you love!

I have put online shop links by each one.

Buy I Am Not A Label by Cerrie Burnell, Lauren Baldo from Bookshop.org here

Buy A Kids Book About Disabilities by Kristine Napper here

Buy Stephen Hawking by Isabel Sanchez Vegara, Matt Hunt here

Buy Don’t Call Me Special by Pat Thomas, Lesley Harker here

Buy Not So Different by Shane Burcaw, Matt Carr here

Buy The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Filey Mosca, Daniel Rieley here

Buy Department of Ability comic by White, Scrivens, Jones here

10 Brilliant Books For Young Children With Disabled Characters

I have spent a lot of time trying to find books which have disabled characters and these are ten of the best. They cover a range of characters and impairments. My daughter Molly (age 4) loves all of these but they’re probably a bit too young for my sons Max (age 8) and Ben (age 10). Some of them are quite old and only available secondhand. Some are published in the UK and some are from America. Let me know if you have any other books with disabled characters that you love.

I have put Waterstones or Amazon links where I can, but of course some of them will be available from your local bookshop (you could try my favourite one here)

Buy Mama Zooms from Amazon here

By Amy Webb, Merrilee Liddiard

Buy When Charley Met Emma from Waterstones here

By Cerrie Burnell, Laura Ellen Anderson

Buy Mermaid from Waterstones here

Buy We’ll Paint the Octopus Red from Waterstones here

By Kristin Meyer, Kevin Cannon

Buy Hiya Moriah from Waterstones here

By Jon Roberts, Hannah Rounding

Buy Through The Eyes Of Me from Waterstones here

The Abilities in Me Tube FeedingGemma Keir, Adam Walker-Parker

Buy The Abilities In Me from Amazon here

Simply MaeKyle Fiorelli, Kellen Roggenbuck

Buy Simply Mae from Amazon here