Last month, for Pride month, I started this series of inclusive children’s books, focusing first on LGBTQ+ books. July is Disability Pride month so I thought I would share the first ten books in this category.
I said in the last blog that I have a love of children’s, and young adult’s, books, because they are a great way to learn and a wonderful way to develop empathy. They’re also, frequently, beautiful.
Now, I think that more books are needed in every category that I will cover with these blogs, and I love that, leading up to Pride month, and even this week (I am writing this in the second week of July), there are still lots of LGBTQ+ books being displayed in bookshops and libraries. However, in Disability Pride month, have a guess at how many relevant books I have seen in the same places? Have you got a number in mind? I was excited to go shopping, to discover new books in this category and, well, my bank balance is happy because I found absolutely none.
In one Waterstones, who were one of the many stores with a great LGBTQ+ book section for Pride month, I spoke to someone who worked there, said how brilliant their display was, and I asked if they had plans to have a Disability Pride awareness stand; they said they hadn’t even thought about it but it was a good idea. And this is why we need more awareness; around 16% of the global population is disabled yet our Pride month is missed by so many. For us to live in a more inclusive, accepting, world, we all need to learn ways to make the world that way. Children’s books can help.
Less than 4% of books, children’s, young adults, and adults combined, have a main character with a disability in. It’s important to have these awareness raising books; I have a rare disability and I know how important these books are. However, when studies have shown that many children won’t make friends with someone who looks different to them, whether that be due to size, shape, colour, disability, or disfigurement, these books can also make our differences seem more important than all the things we have in common. I believe we all have more in common than that which makes us different, so I feel that there should be a mix, some that are raising awareness of conditions, and some that are showing that we’re all just a different kind of normal.
I am only going to share ten books for this post, so you don’t feel bombarded, and I will share more in another blog.
I will share links to the books so you can click on them straight away if they take your fancy. Although I know there are ethical issues with Amazon, and many people choose to not shop with them, I will be using their links, as they are often the cheapest and easiest option for many; they also have a wider selection of books that some independents can’t afford to stock. I will add here that I will be using affiliate links, so, if you purchase through them, you will be helping me reach more children, young people, and women with every purchase (that will take time, as it’s only pennies for each item, but, as the supermarket says, every penny counts). Thank you.
An ABC of Equality, written by Chana Ginelle Ewing, illustrated by Paulina Morgan. It’s a thick board book, aimed at toddlers, but
I think every human should read it so I am including it in every category! It’s a brilliant alphabet book, going from ability to ze, via feminism, gender, oppression, and race! A wonderful book that has a very simple sentence to explain what every word means. A fantastic introduction. https://amzn.to/43kZ90w
I Will Dance, written by Nancy Bo Flood and illustrated by Julianna Swaney, aimed at 3 to 8s. As a disabled person that loves to dance, I love the idea behind this book, showing that dance is for everyone that wants to try it. The illustrations are beautiful. Personally, I don’t like the almost staccato writing style but it’s a lovely book for any budding dancer who feels they can’t. https://amzn.to/43kZ90w
The Tide, written by Clare Helen Walsh and illustrated by Ashling Lindsay. It’s aimed at 3 to 6 year olds, but good for older children to read as a simple introduction. A beautifully illustrated story about a child understanding why her grandfather sometimes forgets things; a simple introduction, and conversation starting point, to explain dementia. https://amzn.to/3ruSjZd
You Are Enough, written by Margaret O'Hair, illustrated by Sofia Cardoso, and inspired by Sofia Sanchez. It’s aimed at 3 to 7 year olds. A book about inclusion with lots of positive affirmations. The beautiful illustrations are embracing of all different people. A great book to introduce different disabilities to your child, and to encourage your child with disabilities to believe that they can do incredible things. https://amzn.to/3Of4eDp
I Remember, written by Jeanne Willis and Raquel Catalina, and aimed at 3 to 7 year olds. This is a beautiful book about a young boy spending time with his grandmother, who has dementia. It has lovely illustrations and the story eloquently describes how relationships can change when dementia becomes part of a family. https://amzn.to/44rfJx0
All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum/All Dogs have ADHD/All Birds have Anxiety, written by Kathy Hoopman. These are suitable for all ages! These are wonderful photographic books that have gorgeous photos of animals linked with some of the traits of these conditions. They're a brilliant way for children to talk about how they feel by putting their feelings onto an animal, and making them easier to discuss. https://amzn.to/3PRDbiF
Obviously, I can’t do a blog about good representations of disabilities without including my own books.
Where Are We Going? was written by me, Vie Portland, and illustrated by Donna Mcghie, and it’s aimed at 3 to 6 year olds. In this book, Emily, the main character, and her mum, go on lots of wonderful imaginary adventures. Emily has a visible difference but it’s not mentioned in the story until the discussion questions at the end of the book. https://amzn.to/44quCj9
In Who Am I? written by me and illustrated by Donna Mcghie, same age range, Emily and her mum go on more imaginary adventures and, this time, there are lots of positive affirmations to encourage readers to think beyond the external appearance, and be reminded how brilliant we are, as we are. https://amzn.to/44KzKyw
If you know of any inclusive children’s and young adult’s books, please do let me know, as I love reading new books. And please do let me know if you read, or have read, any of these books.
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