Discover

Company

49 Informative Kids Books About Disabilities

Updated Feb. 22, 2019

Did you know that more than 12.8% of people in the United States of America have a disability (2017 Disability Statistics Annual Report)? Whether mental or physical differences, learning about disabilities can help us have a better understanding of conditions and more empathy for differently-abled people.

Apart from being a great way to learn, these books are also a great way to start conversations with your children about advocacy, inclusion, and kindness.

Top 10 Disabilities Books

A Boy Called Bat book
#1
A Boy Called Bat
Written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely adore this book. Bat is a wonderful, developed character that can really help children reading understand and have empathy for those on the Autism spectrum.

The first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum, from acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso. For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet. "This sweet and thoughtful novel chronicles Bat’s experiences and challenges at school with friends and teachers and at home with his sister and divorced parents. Approachable for younger or reluctant readers while still delivering a powerful and thoughtful story" (from the review by Brightly.com, which named A Boy Called Bat a best book of 2017).

Wonder book
#2
Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

I Am Helen Keller book
#3
I Am Helen Keller
Written by Brad Meltzer and illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos, Brad Meltzer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I thought this was a fantastic biography of the life of Helen Keller--her hardships and accomplishments. There are a lot of fun facts in the story, and it's a little longer of a picture book, but I thought it was engaging and a fun, inspiring read.

"The story of Helen Keller, who learned to read and write despite being deaf and blind, and became an activist who fought for the rights of disabled people"

Mrs. Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets book
#4
Mrs. Gorski I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets
Written by Barbara Esham and illustrated by Mike Gordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each book introduces a realistic example of triumph over difficulty in a positive, humorous way that readers of all ages will enjoy! David gets scolded a lot by his teacher, Mrs. Gorski, for not paying attention in class. He wants to pay attention but it is just so hard when an exciting idea pops into his head. And he usually can't tell that he's making a mistake until after he makes them. But after a particularly big mistake, David comes up with his own plan to tone down his wiggle fidgets. This award-winning story is a simple introduction to ADHD and the creative ways of finding solutions to the challenges that ADHD can create. Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgetsis the recipient of: the Academics' Choice Gold Seal Mom's Choice Award Gold Parents' Choice Award "A masterful tale of empowering children...Esham artfully describes the gifts and challenges of children with ADHD." -Dr. Susan Baum, professor emeritus, the College of New Rochelle Praise for the series: "This is a wonderful book series. Each story shows children that success is about effort and determination, that problems need not derail them, and that adults can understand their worries and struggles. My research demonstrates that these lessons are essential for children." --Dr. Carol S. Dweck

Susan Laughs book
#5
Susan Laughs
Written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Tony Ross
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

Rhyming couplets describe a wide range of common emotions and activities experienced by a little girl who uses a wheelchair.

We'll Paint the Octopus Red book
#6
We'll Paint the Octopus Red
Written by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen and illustrated by Pam DeVito
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Emma and her father discuss what they will do when the new baby arrives, but they adjust their expectations when he is born with Down syndrome.

A Christmas Carol book
#7
A Christmas Carol
Written by Jennifer Adams and illustrated by Alison Oliver
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-4

Take a walk with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come in Little Master Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A BabyLit® Colors Primer. See old Jacob Marley shaking silver chains, gold stars shining around the Ghost of Christmas Past, and a red scarf keeping Tiny Tim warm. This bright retelling of a Christmas classic will scare any “bah, humbug” feelings away.

The Secret Garden book
#8
The Secret Garden
Written by Brooke Jorden and illustrated by David Miles
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Join Mary, Dickon, and Colin on their heartwarming journey of friendship and gardening magic. Filled with interactive wheels and pull-tabs, and lavishly illustrated, The Secret Garden is an unprecedented kid's introduction to Frances Hodgson Burnett's beloved classic novel. Unlike many board books that tackle the classics, Lit for Little Hands tells the actual story in simple, engaging prose. Gorgeous springtime illustrations transport the reader to the gardens and halls of Misselthwaite Manor, while tons of interactive elements invite kids to help Mary discover the secret garden, make friends, and help Colin walk! Fans of the novel will be delighted by the book's attention to detail and clever use of original text and dialogue. And the book's super-sturdy board means everyone can enjoy this tale over . . . and over . . . and over again! The magic of the secret garden will return each time you read!

My Friend Isabelle book
#9
My Friend Isabelle
Written by Eliza Woloson and illustrated by Bryan Gough
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A young boy named Charlie describes the activities he shares with his friend Isabelle, a girl with Down Syndrome.

Dan and Diesel book
#10
Dan and Diesel
Written by Charlotte Hudson and illustrated by Lindsey Gardiner
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-5

Dan's dog, Diesel, is a wonder dog. He can do anything. He can ride on trains and planes and in underground tunnels. He can stand next to an enormous smoke-breathing dragon and never flinch an inch. When Dan is with Diesel he can go anywhere. He can go shopping at the market. He can play jazz in the Boogaloo band. He can climb mountains and draw pictures in his head. Together, they can conquer the world! But one day, Diesel is whisked away in a big black van . . . Only when Dan and Diesel are finally re-united does it become apparent that Dan is blind and Diesel is his guide dog.

Books About Empathy & Disabilities

A Boy Called Bat book
#1
A Boy Called Bat
Written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely adore this book. Bat is a wonderful, developed character that can really help children reading understand and have empathy for those on the Autism spectrum.

The first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum, from acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso. For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet. "This sweet and thoughtful novel chronicles Bat’s experiences and challenges at school with friends and teachers and at home with his sister and divorced parents. Approachable for younger or reluctant readers while still delivering a powerful and thoughtful story" (from the review by Brightly.com, which named A Boy Called Bat a best book of 2017).

Wonder book
#2
Wonder
Written by R. J. Palacio
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Born with a facial deformity that initially prevented his attendance at public school, Auggie Pullman enters the fifth grade at Beecher Prep and struggles with the dynamics of being both new and different, in a sparsely written tale about acceptance and self-esteem.

Through Grandpa's Eyes book
#3
Through Grandpa's Eyes
Written by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

This book is a bit on the long side, so may be better for kiddos with a longer attention span, but it is a lovely story about a little boy trying to experience the world the way his grandpa does—without sight. The illustrations are soft and soothing, and the messages about empathy and how important the bond between grandparents and grandchildren can be are powerful ones.

On John's visits to Grandpa's house, his blind grandfather shares with him the special way he sees and moves in the world.

Honorable Mentions
  1. Fish in a Tree - "Ally's greatest fear is that everyone will find out she is as dumb as they think she is because she still doesn't know how to read"--

  2. El Deafo - The author recounts in graphic novel format her experiences with hearing loss at a young age, including using a bulky hearing aid, learning how to lip read, and determining her "superpower."

  3. Paperboy - When an eleven-year-old boy takes over a friend's newspaper route in July, 1959, in Memphis, his debilitating stutter makes for a memorable month.

Want to see even more books about disabilities and empathy?

How about books about empathy?

Table of Contents
  1. Top 10 Disabilities Books
  2. + empathy (6)
Join Our Kids Book Club
Learn More