13 Titles to Share With Older Readers During Disability Pride Month

Hand these 13 titles—fiction and nonfiction—about disability to older readers this Disability Pride Month.

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. To celebrate the law's passing, July is Disability Pride Month. Here are 13 titles, fiction and nonfiction, on disability to hand to older readers.

Image showing the first five book covers on the list


Marshmallow & Jordan by Alina Chau. illus. by author. First Second. ISBN 9781250300607.
Gr 4-7–Jordan is a young basketball star in Indonesia. She’s named after Michael Jordan and even sports the number 23 on her jersey. An accident left her paralyzed from the waist down, and Jordan now uses a wheelchair. She’s allowed to play with her team at practice but not at games, a restriction that Jordan and her teammates find frustrating. An enchanting graphic novel about a girl and her elephant with truly lovely artwork.

 Even As We Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. Univ. of Kentucky. ISBN 9781950564064. 
Gr 9 Up–It is 1942 and 19-year-old Cowney is adrift. He can’t enlist in the army due to a physical disability, he left junior college and hasn’t decided whether he’s going back, and he feels out of place at home on the Qualla Boundary and outside the reservation where racism runs rampant. Needing money for tuition, and wanting to prove himself useful to the war effort, Cowney takes a groundskeeper position at the Grove Park Inn. Working at the Inn throws issues of class, race, and ableism into stark relief for Cowney.

Maybe We’re Electric by Val Emmich. Little, Brown/Poppy. ISBN 9780316535700. 
Gr 10 Up–When Tegan Everly gets into a fight with her mother, she runs out of her house into a winter storm. Finding refuge in the quaint Thomas Edison Museum, she is shocked when the popular Mac Durant walks in. Tegan, always self-conscious about being born with only two fingers on one hand, realizes that the way she has misjudged Mac through the years is no better than how others always seem to pity her for her limb difference. Through Tegan, Emmich depicts what it feels like to live with a disability.

The Opposite of Falling Apart by Micah Good. Wattpad. ISBN 9781989365069.
Gr 8 Up–When Brennan meets Jonas during a minor fender bender, she has no idea that it is one of his first times driving after a traumatic car accident in which he lost his leg, and Jonas doesn’t know about Brennan’s struggles with anxiety. The heart of this novel is the emotional development of the characters and how they are learning to live with their disabilities. An emotional and ultimately sweet story that explores college life through the lens of disability.

One for All by Lillie Lainoff. Farrar. ISBN 9780374314613. 
Gr 7 Up–All French teenager Tania de Batz has ever wanted was to follow in her father’s footsteps as a Musketeer. Tania’s dizziness due to her disability and the fact that women aren’t allowed to join the Musketeers make her believe it’s impossible. A thrilling retelling of The Three Musketeers that puts disabled and LGBTQIA+ women in the foreground as the heroes, this book has something for every reader to enjoy.

[See also: Six Manga About People with Disabilities]

Image of  four book covers: Swimming with Dolphins; It's My Life; Air; and The Chance to Fly

Swimming with Dolphins by Jessie Paddock. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338538120. 
Gr 3-7–A coming-of-age story that seamlessly incorporates discussion of disability alongside a heartwarming dolphin tale. Twelve-year-old KT Wynn moves from Iowa to Florida and has to start over at a new middle school while leaving all her friends behind. KT uses a wheelchair; although the plot doesn’t dwell on this, it is a daily fact of her life, and she worries about being in a new environment as a wheelchair user.

It’s My Life by Stacie Ramey. Sourcebooks/Fire. ISBN 9781492694526.
Gr 8 Up–High school junior Jenna had always assumed she was born with cerebral palsy. Upon discovering that her birthing OB/GYN was sued for medical malfeasance, and that her CP was caused by a complication during her birth, she is now rethinking her whole life. There is a gap in books with CP representation, and even with its pitfalls, this addition has its merits.

Air by Monica Roe. Farrar. ISBN 9780374388652. 
Gr 4-7–Seventh grader Emmie has a need for speed, and wishes for a more accessible way for her to fly through the air like her favorite wheelchair motocross heroes. Emmie raises her own funds for an enhanced wheelchair through crafting embroidered bags. When a mishap with her wheelchair occurs, she’s left with some scrapes, a new aide, and a fundraiser for a new wheelchair. A fast-paced realistic fiction title featuring a disabled protagonist; a worthy purchase for collections.

The Chance To Fly by Ali Stroker & Stacy Davidowitz. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419743931. 
Gr 3-7–Thirteen-year-old Natalie Beacon, who is white, has used a wheelchair since she was little. Musicals are Nat’s passion and performing is her professional dream. Though the novel leans heavily on musical history and theatre terminology, young readers do not need a knowledge of musicals and theater to enjoy this novel. Young disabled performers will be excited to see representation, and all readers will be rooting for Nat.

[See also: Picture Book Creators Center Joy While Portraying Disability]

Cover images of the four nonfiction titles


Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann with Kristen Joiner. Beacon. ISBN 9780807003596. 
Gr 6-9–Heumann was paralyzed after contracting polio as a baby in 1949. Many disabled children were institutionalized at the time, but by age six, she was getting around by herself in a wheelchair. Adapted for young readers, this captivating story shines a light on the critical fight for disability rights and will empower aspiring activists to find their own voices.

The Disability Experience: Working Toward Belonging by Hannalora Leavitt. illus. by Belle Wuthrich. Orca. ISBN 9781459819283. 
Gr 7 Up–This book invites readers to rethink the way people with disabilities are viewed. Leavitt, who is blind, explains that people with disabilities want the same things everyone does: independence, opportunities, and the ability to reach their goals. A strong, if not entirely comprehensive, introduction to disabilities.

[See also: Writing Disability and Immigration from a Place of Wholeness, a guest post by Natalia Sylvester]

Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities by Helen Wolfe. illus. by Karen Patkau. Second Story. ISBN 9781772602098. 
Gr 4-7–Wolfe, who has a physical disability herself, highlights the lives of 10 women with disabilities. They are a refreshingly diverse bunch; Wolfe has carefully selected women who have a range of disabilities, are employed in a variety of careers, and hail from all around the globe. This collection of biographies is a great window into the lives of contemporary and accomplished women with disabilities.

 Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults): 17 First-Person Stories for Today edited by Alice Wong. Delacorte. ISBN 9780593381670.
Gr 7 Up–In this young adult adaptation of her adult title, editor Wong compiles pieces written by a diverse range of people living with a disability. The well-written works introduce issues of equity and facts of life for disabled people that will be eye-opening for many readers. An essential read that amplifies voices of the disability community. 

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