Books with Disabled Characters
Kids need to see themselves. What I mean by that is, our kids need to see others like them in books, movies, television. I found that it is not so easy to find fiction book characters with autism or other disabilities. The key word there being ‘fiction.’
Lately, my younger son is really getting into reading, which is fun. He’s becoming much more choosy about the content he is reading. I thought I would take a look around for some books that would help him, or inspire him, or subtly teach him how to live with a brother with autism or disabilities. I’m always adding to this list of books about autism and disabilities, so if you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
But here you go, if you are looking for some books to add to your collection, check these out. I found books even for little ones up to teens. You’ll have to click around and see if the material is developmentally appropriate for your child. I listed them alphabetically. You can even use the book characters in social stories about making friends.
Is Amelia Bedelia autistic?
Amelia Bedelia books: I like Amelia Bedelia books for a lot of reasons. First, they have Easy Readers or beginner-level books, all the way up to chapter books. She appeals to both boys and girls, and her quirk is that she takes things very literally. Her stories could be very good conversation starters about literal language. Is she autistic? Much like Sheldon Cooper, we don’t know for sure. But, kids can definitely relate to her, and that’s all that matters!
Books about Disabilities or Disabled Characters
Eleanor & Park: This is probably more for teens as it is a love story. What makes it appropriate on this list is that the two kids who fall in love are “misfits.” I like the storyline that misfits can find someone, especially for a child who often feels alone or different. These characters are never defined as disabled, but they are misfits, which I thought many kids could relate to.
El Deafo: Yes, this is a story with a hearing aid! Crazy name, but so few storylines involve hearing aids, I thought this should be on the list. Plus it is a Newberry winner, so worth checking out.
Fish in a Tree: The main character Ally, has dyslexia. She tries to hide it and in the end, comes to accept it. That’s a very abbreviated version but looks like a good story.
Books with Aspergers Characters
Aspergers isn’t an official definition anymore, but there are many older kids who had that diagnosis and identify with it. So I felt it was important to include it on this list of best books for kids with autism. The next several books are great for young adults with various disabilities.
I am Albert Einstein: This one isn’t really fiction. But, I felt it should be on the list because in several different parts it talks about Albert being different, being called names and so on. The “I am” series was introduced to us by the National Archives on a trip there, and I love it. They highlight many famous people who started out ordinary and overcame challenges. So, no, not fiction, but still fun stories to read and Brian asks for this one quite often.
Janine: Janine is initially ostracized due to her disabilities. But the group comes to like her and accept her, and in my opinion, not in that syrupy patronizing way. Janine can certainly be considered a book about a kid with autism. I’ve read it over and over, and each time I can picture one of my clients doing the exact same things that Janine does.
Looking After Louis: I chose this one because it also brings a bit of soccer into the story, so I felt it that kids may relate to it better. Louis is a fictional character with autism.
Mockingbird: This one is for teens or older. It seems a bit dark, but it deals with both Aspergers and school shootings, so I thought it was worth checking out. This is for older kids, as it is a chapter book about kids with disabilities. It’s also a great suggestion for a fiction book for an autistic teenager to read.
Rain Reign: “Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.” Sounds good, no? Oh, and she also perseverates on things!
Lemonade War Series: Recommended by a blog reader. The main girl is quirky and has trouble understanding social cues. Then in the 2nd or 3rd book, there is definitely a boy who is on the spectrum though the word is never used. She introduces autistic characters throughout the series, and it’s perfect for 9-12-year-olds.
The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr: Though never identified as autistic, the main character has very rigid thinking and “has trouble navigating this puzzling world.” She’s also 27, so this is a great book for teens with autism or young adults who don’t want “babyish” books.
Bio-Mechanical: I like this one because it not only has a disabled main character, but it talks about struggling with homosexuality and finding acceptance. Caution: Adult content, not for younger kids!
The story of a non-verbal teenager with Angelman Syndrome, who learns of a pending invasion and must break through his genomic barriers if he is to share his newfound knowledge and protect the human race.
More importantly, the novel is about relationships; the relationship between a mother and her disabled son and the bonds which are formed as her son takes on the defacto roll of leader for their small band of unlikely heroes. I believe your readers would relish in the experience of watching this young man, who never even had friends before, forge new and lasting alliances as he saves the world (spoiler alert!). The book is available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions. The entire book is free to those with a Kindle Unlimited membership and the first 6-plus chapters are free to preview. The link to my author page on Amazon.com is:amazon.com/author/dwarrenvon.