Disability Reads

Wendy Spoon, Oklahoma LEND Trainee, Parent/Family Discipline

January 8, 2021

Reading is something my family enjoys.  Having a family member with a disability means that we enjoy seeing representation in our book choices.  There are a lot of great disability reads out there.  Here are just a few that we added over the holiday season. 

  • Disability Visibility by Alice Wong - A collection of short stories by various authors who have disabilities.  They share open and honest highlights of their experiences living with a disability.  There are some heavy topics covered.
  • Special Siblings by Mary McHugh - This book is McHugh's recollections of growing up with a sibling who has both intellectual and physical disabilities.  She shares reflection of the joys and pains of being a sibling. 
  • Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig - In Sitting Pretty, Taussig shares what it means to live in a body that doesn't fit.  This story was relatable to my daughter and she found herself laughing throughout.
  • Care Work: Disability Justice by Leah Lakshima Piepzna-Samarasinha - Care Work is a collection of essays that dive into the politics and realities of the disability justice movement. 
  • Wheelchair Warrior: Gangs, Disability, and Basketball by Melvin Juette and Ronald J. Berger - Melvin Juette became paralyzed in a gang related shooting.  He shares how acquiring a disability transformed him in many ways.  He went on to become an award winning athlete on the U.S. National Wheelchair Basketball Team.
  • Roll With It by Jamie Sumner - Roll With It is a children's middle grade read.  While this book has a good story, the language the main character uses to describe herself is disappointing.  This is a coming of age story with a side of disability.
  • Strangers Assume My Girlfriend is My Nurse by Shane Burcaw - A series of essays on an interabled couple and their relationship.  People on the outside looking in often assume she is his caregiver and couldn't possibly be a couple.  Great read. 
  • My Beautiful Struggle by Jordan Bone - At 15, Bone became paralyzed after a car accident.  She struggled finding her place and regaining her life.  She eventually found her niche in makeup tutorials and is a beauty YouTube Influencer. 
  • We Should Hang Out Sometime: Embarrassingly, a True Story by Joshua Sundquist - This is a fun read as Sundquist investigates past romances.  He is an amputee cancer survivor and a YouTube star who embraces "looking for love" in this autobiography.
  • Out of my Mind by Sharon M. Draper - This book will have you laughing out loud!  Draper writes this book from the perspective of Melody who has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal.  Melody is brilliant and often underestimated.  Hearing Melody's view on life is funny and refreshing in this Young Adult read.
  • The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown - Brown is a disability rights advocate.  She created the viral campaign #DisabledAndCute to foster a community of persons with disabilities loving themselves.  Her writing is bold and relevant, a strong voice in the disability community.
  • Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBride Johnson -  This is a Young Adult read of 17 year old Jean's experiences at summer camp.  Before Camp Courage, Jean had not met another disabled person.  At camp, she finds her community and allies.
  • Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBride Johnson -  The memoir of a "tiny wheelchair woman with a certain amount of mouth".  This book is a witty read about Johnson's experiences and the disability rights movement.
  •  A Different Life: Growing Up Learning Disabled and Other Adventures by Quinn Bradlee -  A candid autobiography about growing up with an intellectual disability. 

While every disability read may not be to your liking, it is important that these books are available.  Having representation matters, even on the page.  Whether it is a recounting of experiences in a memoir or a fictional account of growing up with a disability, I encourage you to pick up one of these reads or to find one you may enjoy.  Happy Reading!