Chapter 11

Learning About Different Abilities and Fairness

We all think, feel, communicate, and move – in lots of different ways!

It’s so important to have stories that show how fully human, playful, and interesting differently abled people are (Goals 1 & 2)! We also need stories that show how bias and ignorance are damaging to those with disabilities – and the many ways they and their allies take stands to make change (Goals 3 & 4).

To find more books like these, use the book search page. Look under “Making People Visible – Disabilities”, or under “Special topics – Illness Injury”.



Awesomely Emma - Cover
Awesomely Emma
Amy Webb, Beaming Books 2020
Ages 5 - 8

Born without hands, Emma gets about on an electric wheelchair and writes and draws with her feet. But her friend Charley keeps trying to help when she can do it fine on her own. Emma says “NO”, but then she thinks of a way he can help – getting the museum to have equal access at the front door! As Emma says, “No bodies are wrong. All bodies are right. We’re all different colors, sizes & heights. My body works differently – and I love being me! Because ME is an awesome thing to be”.
Goal 1, 2, 3& 4
Best Day Ever - Cover
Best Day Ever
Marilyn Singer, Clarion Books 2021
Ages 2 - 8

Surprise! A book with a main character in a wheelchair- where the disability is never mentioned & has nothing to do with the story. The story is about a playful puppy, full of joy, who is also a nuisance (mud on the couch, knocked over lamp). This is a terrific story about how quickly a day can go from “best day ever” to “worst day ever” …and still end up being a day filled with love.
Goal 1 & 2
Be Quiet Marina - Cover
Be Quiet Marina
Kristen DeBear, Star Bright Books 2001
Ages 2 - 6

A photo book about two wonderful 4-year-olds. At first, Marina (who has cerebral palsy) & Moira (who has Down syndrome) could not play together because of their differences. But eventually Marina & Moira become best friends. The funny and tender story of how this change comes about has captivated all the children we’ve read it to!
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Best Friends - Cover
Best Friends
Sandi Hill, Creative Teaching Press 1998
Ages 4 - 8

Ann and I are best friends. Sometimes we like the same things. Sometimes we like different things”. Ann is blind, but the focus of the book is on friendship and on sameness and difference. Usually, we don’t include books that are this didactic – but this one is a charmer!
Goal 1 & 2
The Black Book of Colors - Cover
The Black Book of Colors
Merena Cottin, Groundwood Books 2006
Ages 2 - 6

It’s very hard for a sighted person to imagine what it is like to be blind. This groundbreaking book tries to convey the experience of a person who can only see through his or her sense of touch, taste, smell, or hearing. The book is printed entirely in black, with raised black line drawing on black paper along with braille translations of the text. A very creative and enticing book!
Goal 1 & 2
Bodies Are Cool - Cover
Bodies Are Cool
Tyler Feder, Dial Books 2021
Ages 2 - 8

The book we’ve been waiting for! A celebration of every type of body that exists – large, small, round, thin, harry, scarred, old, young, Every visible disability is shown – integrated on each page rather than segregated onto a special page and each person is fully taking part in each page’s activity. Filled with energy and delight. If you only buy one book this year, this is the book!!
Goal 1 & 2
Glasses - Cover
Ann Gwinn Zawistoski, Peeps Eyewear 2014
Ages 0 - 4

This beautiful books shows photographs of children of all ages wearing colorful and beautiful glasses. NEEDS MORE
Goal 1 & 2
In the Blue - Cover
In the Blue
Erin Hourigan, Hachette Book Group 2022
Ages 4 - 8

An exceptional, child-friendly book describing a young child’s experience when her loving father falls into deep depresson. The child is frightened, angry, and confused, but with her mother’s support the child learns to wait and love until the father is “read to visit people who help him”. The child gets help too. And slowly, the sunshine comes back into their lives…most of the time. Simple text. Gorgeous illustrations.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
No Fair to Tigers / No es justo para los tigres - Cover
No Fair to Tigers / No es justo para los tigres
Eric Hoffman, Redleaf Press 1999
Ages 3 - 7

Delightful bilingual story about Old Tiger, Mandy’s much loved stuffed toy. Old tiger is aging. He has lost an ear and his tail. Together with her family, Mandy washes him up and puts him back together. But Mandy can’t get into the store to get a button for his eyes because the store isn’t handicap accessible and Mandy uses a wheelchair. Terrific story of a child standing up for what is right! In Spanish and English. (OOP but available used).
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Now One Foot, Now the Other - Cover
Now One Foot, Now the Other
Tomie dePaola, G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2005
Ages 4 - 7

Bobby was named after his best friend, his grandfather Bob. They built block towers together. Bob told Bobby stories – including the favorite story of how Grandpa taught him how to walk – “now one foot, now the other.” Years later, when Bobby is a young boy, his parents tell him Bob is in the hospital. He had something called a stroke. His arms and legs were too weak to walk. When he finally comes home, it is now Bobby’s turn to teach Bob how to walk – “now one foot, now the other.”
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Raymond’s Perfect Present - Cover
Raymond’s Perfect Present
Therese On Louie, Lee & Low Books 2002
Ages 3 - 7

Raymond’s mother is in the hospital and he wants to bring her a gift but cannot afford to buy flowers. He can afford seeds, but they take a long time to become flowers. A tender, sweet story of a boy’s love for his mother during a worried, troubled time.
Goal 1, 3 & 4
Pow Wow Day - Cover
Pow Wow Day
Traci Sorrell, Charlesbridge Press 2022
Ages 3 - 8

A young Plains Indian girl has been ill, and she is not yet strong enough to dance at the Pow Wow. In this lovely, accurate, telling of the traditions and deep meaning of the pow wow, the artist and writer celebrate family strength, determination, hope and compassion.
Goal 1, 3 & 4
The Princess and the Peanut - Cover
The Princess and the Peanut
Sue Ganz Schmitt, Wild Indigo Press 2011
Ages 4 - 7

A traditional princess and prince fairy tale retold with a peanut (rather than a pea) causing a huge allergic reaction. Funny illustrations while the princess gets a shot of an antihistamine and the castle is carefully cleared of any trace of peanuts or other tree nuts. The prince gives up his favorite snack of peanut butter & jam and it’s on to the wedding. There is a good glossary at the back for families and teachers with information about allergies and treatment.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Susan Laughs - Cover
Susan Laughs
Jeanne Willis, Henry Holt 2000
Ages 2 - 5

Susan laughs, she sings, she rides, she swings. She gets angry, she gets sad, she is good and she is bad. In fact, despite her physical challenges, Susan is no different from any other child. Rhyming couplets describe a wide range of emotions and activities experienced by a spunky little girl who, we discover only on the last page, uses a wheelchair.
Goal 1 & 4
We Can Do It / Nosotros Si Podemos Hacerlo! - Cover
We Can Do It / Nosotros Si Podemos Hacerlo!
Laura Dwight, Starbright Books 1997
Ages 2 - 5

A multi-racial group of five young children, each thriving along with managing their disabilities (cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Down syndrome, blindness) tell the reader about their lives in words and wonderful photographs. The stories are playful and celebratory as well as informative. We see them working with their therapists and helpers, and mainly see them as fully engaged with life. One of the best books we’ve found centered on children with disabilities.
Goal 1, 2, 3 & 4
Will It Be Okay? - Cover
Will It Be Okay?
Crescent Dragonwagon, Harry N. Abrams Press 2022
Ages 3 - 7

An anxious child keeps asking “will it be okay” and the answers are always, thoughtful, loving, and reassuring. The child’s tough questions, ranging from fear of a thunderstorm to what if a loved one dies, are listened to and accurately and calmly answered over and over. Beautiful illustrations by Jessica Love (who did “Julian is a Mermaid”) center in on the child’s anxious face the mother’s warmth and assurance.
Goal 1 & 2