Books are a gateway for us to unlock our imaginations. To see ourselves in the characters that captivate our attention. To let our mind wander to places that wouldn’t have been possible without the inspiration found between the pages.
Many books, however, don’t resonate for people with disabilities, because they don’t see themselves in the characters they read. We’ve collected a list of books at various reading levels that include people with disabilities, including blindness, cerebral palsy, and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Anyone, whether young, old, able-bodied, or disabled can jump into these books and learn something new from the stories of people overcoming their challenges.
All the Light We Cannot See (Ages 13+)
One of the main characters in this World War II novel is a girl who has been blind since age 6. She and her father wait out the Nazi invasion of Paris in the coastal French town of Saint-Malo. In parts of the book Anthony Doerr writes about the girl’s father, a master locksmith at the Museum of Natural History, teaching her how to navigate through her blindness. The novel reminds us of the small miracles we witness in our lives.
One Wants to Be a Letter (Ages 5-7+)
Author Jake Marrazzo, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, writes to a young audience about the struggle of being different than everyone else. The number wants to be a letter but realizes there’s a purpose to his uniqueness. The short picture book captures the feeling many children have when trying to fit in with their friends but ends with a positive message.
From Eden to Paradise (Ages 15+)
John Gilbert passed away from Duchenne muscular dystrophy at 25, but he left a legacy in the form of a book about navigating his disability while also finding faith and positivity. It focuses on hope and perspective while fighting a disease that slowly takes away his abilities.
Out of My Mind (Ages 9+)
This novel is told from the perspective of an 11-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, who can’t talk, walk, or write. It gives an inside look into the frustration of being exceptionally smart but having everyone around her assume she is mentally challenged.
A Small If (Ages 12+)
Elijah Stacy wrote this book when he was 17, sharing the 13 lessons he’s learned in life as he fights Duchenne muscular dystrophy and tries to find a cure for it. It charts the ups and downs of living with a progressive rare disease, while also showing us how to overcome it.
Note: Please consult with your doctor before taking any medical advice from the books listed above