Children's books about differing abilities

Books that showcase different abilities and disabilities in a way children will understand or relate to.

A few topics included: hearing impaired, visually impaired, anxiety, PTSD, wheelchair users, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, ADHD, limb differences, service animals, dyslexia, learning disabilities, autism.

Updated March 28, 2023
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My friend Suhana
Abdullah, Shaila 1971-
A True Story of Friendship and Winner of the Dolly Gray Children's Literature Award Award-winning author and designer Shaila Abdullah teams up with her 10-year-old daughter Aanyah to bring you this heartwarming tale of a little girl who forms a close bond with a child with...
One in 1000
Alcón, Sonia
I love my body because
Anand, Shelly
All Are Welcome meets Bodies Are Cool in this picture book that shows us what makes every body special. Everybody has a body and every body is good. Your body takes you where you want to go. Your body is your first home. And your body is different from everyone else...
I'm deaf, and it's okay
Aseltine, Lorraine.
A young boy describes the frustrations caused by his deafness and the encouragement he receives from a deaf teenager that he can lead an active life.
Different : a great thing to be!
Avis, Heather
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER . This joyful rhyming book encourages children to value the "different" in all people, leading the way to a kinder world in which the differences in all of us are celebrated and embraced. Macy is a girl who's a lot like you and me, but she's also...
Yes I can! : a girl and her wheelchair
Barrett, Kendra J.
Carolyn is in a wheelchair, but she doesn't let that stop her! She can do almost everything the other kids can, even if sometimes she has to do it a little differently. Includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with more information on discussing disabilities with children and...
Aaron Slater, illustrator
Beaty, Andrea
Aaron Slater loves listening to stories and dreams of one day writing them himself. But when it comes to reading, the letters just look like squiggles to him, and it soon becomes clear he struggles more than his peers. When his teacher asks each child in the class to write a story, Aaron can't...
Even superheroes get scared
Becker, Shelly
When Superheroes feel worried or scared, When they fret, when they sweat, when they feel unprepared . . . They could run off screeching, they could but they don't. Because real superheroes just wouldn't, they won't.<...
Coffee, rabbit, snowdrop, lost
Birkjćr, Betina
A beautiful, candid picture book for children to understand what happens when a loved one begins suffering from dementia, and how best to care for them. A 2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book A Finalist for the 2022 Kirkus Prize in Young Readers' Literature
Gracie's ears
Blackington, Debbie
Do you know someone who has difficulty hearing? This is the story of Gracie, your everyday fun-loving kid who does everything that you do, but has trouble hearing. It's as if her ears are sleeping! Can anyone or anything wake up Gracie's ears? This is a wonderful introduction what hearing aids are...
Little anxious Cat
Bouquet, Audrey
Little Cat is very stressed and scared when he finds out he needs to go to the doctor for a checkup. But the doctor helps him navigate his anxiety through breathing exercises, body movement, and visualizations. Featuring the appealing character of Little Cat, this funny and brightly...
Big truck playdate
Carmody, Laurie
Corey went everywhere with his trucks. But when it came to other kids, he rode solo. When Corey's school hosts a semi-truck extravaganza, his tires squeal and his heart revs. He can't believe it! But the crowd of classmates quickly leaves him feeling overwhelmed. Corey must find the...
Poojo's got wheels
Charrow (Illustrator)
Look at Poojo go! This adorable dog was born without back legs, but that's OK--because Poojo's got wheels. What a good dog Poojo is! He's a great friend to everyone and everything (pigeons and scooters included). He's creative and clever (how many other dogs can pop a wheelie?)....
Daniel the warrior
Clark, Monét Lynne
"Daniel the Warrior" is a story about loving yourself and understanding that it is okay to be different. Daniel's speech is different than how other kids speak. When Daniel is nervous, he sometimes stutters. Daniel learns to be a WARRIOR when some kids in his class don't like or accept him. This...
Harley the hero
Collins, Peggy 1975-
An exciting picture book inspired by a real-life classroom service dog with themes of friendship, neurodivergence, and courage Harley the service dog is on the job! He goes to school every day with Ms. Prichard to make sure she feels safe. Their students are a lot of fun, but Harley...
Can I play too?
Cotterill, Samantha
Friendship--and trains!--take center stage in this gentle, inviting story about paying attention to other people's feelings. Two boys' fun train-track-building project takes a turn when one of the boys obliviously insists on only doing things his way. Their disagreement spells...
It was supposed to be sunny
Cotterill, Samantha
A perfectly planned birthday party goes awry in this gentle story about adapting to the unexpected, written for kids on the autism spectrum and called "brilliant" and "engaging" by autism specialist Tony Attwood Laila feels like her sparkly sunshine birthday celebration is on the...
Mama zooms
Cowen-Fletcher, Jane
A boy's wonderful mama takes him zooming everywhere with her, because her wheelchair is a zooming machine.
It's me, Henry!
Deslauriers, Stéphanie 1987-
Henry marches to the beat of his own green thumb in this gentle picture book about a boy on the autism spectrum. Henry doesn't remember to raise his hand and he prefers to call plants by their proper Latin names, much to the frustration of his classmates. Most days, Henry doesn't notice...
My friend has Down syndrome
Doering, Amanda F. 1980-
My friend Sarah has a disability called Down Syndrome. But that doesn't matter to us. We tell jokes and laugh, go to ballet class together, and have a lot of fun. I'm glad Sarah is my friend!
Meeting Mimi : a story about different abilities
Dolan, Francie
Introduce your child to the magic of reading, friendship, and inclusion with the children's book Meeting Mimi: A Story About Different Abilities. Mimi is new at school, and everyone is excited to get to know her! Join Mimi's classmates as they learn about her different...
Beat, beat, thump
Edwards, Allison
A Picture Book to Help Kids Calm Down and Find Peace When They Have Anxiety, Worry, or Panic What does anxiety feel like to a child? Beat, beat, thump. Beat, beat, thump. That's the pulse of Alex's heart as he navigates worries about school, friendship struggles, and trying new...
Sometimes
Elliott, Rebecca.
Toby loves his big sister Clemmie. She always looks after him and he looks after her - even when her disability means she has to go to hospital again. But they still find ways to have fun together - and their story will help encourage children facing a similar situation. Toby and Clemmie first...
If you're so smart, how come you can't spell Mississippi?
Esham, Barbara.
Katie is keen observer and a curious third grader. So when her dad explains why he finds spelling difficult, Katie wants to investigate. She learns that her very intelligent dad, a lawyer, has dyslexia probably like a couple of Katie's classmates. Expressive line and wash illustrations enhance the...
Mrs. Gorski, I think I have the wiggle fidgets
Esham, Barbara.
A student's positive journey through a learning difference that offers an encouraging example of triumph over difficulty. A must-have ADHD book for kids of all ages. The Adventures of Everyday Geniuses is meant to demonstrate various forms of learning, creativity, and intelligence. Each...
This is Ella
Ewert, Krista
Ella is a happy, fun-loving girl who is just starting school. She knows all of her letters, helps take care of her little sister, and enjoys riding her blue bike. Sometimes she has to practice sitting still. Ella loves to play and is a good friend. Ella has Down syndrome. Though she...
Howie helps himself
Fassler, Joan.
Joan Fassler (1-3) A child with cerebral palsy achieves a victory.
Henry the boy
Felder, Molly
No matter how different we feel, we are all more similar than we at first appear. This is not a story about a heron or a robot or a chicken but an ordinary boy with daily struggles, triumphs, and an extraordinary imagination. Henry uses forearm crutches decorated with animal...
Wild for Winnie
Fitzgerald, Laura Marx
New student Winnie has sensory processing challenges, but her wonderful teacher knows just how to make sure she's a welcome part of the class. Winnie is the new kid at school, and sometimes she acts kind of wild. Her teacher says to her classmates, "Maybe Winnie feels the world...
I will dance
Flood, Bo
This poetic and uplifting picture book illustrated by the #1 New York Times bestselling illustrator of We Are the Gardeners by Joanna Gaines follows a young girl born with cerebral palsy as she pursues her dream of becoming a dancer. Like many young girls, Eva longs...
I don't like birthday parties
Gaspari, Maureen
"An empathetic picture book about being a little bit different."--Kirkus Reviews More than anything, Lucas wants to enjoy birthday parties like his friends... but he is overwhelmed by all of the sights, sounds and sensations that come with celebrations. When he gets invited...
A friend like Simon
Gaynor, Kate
Irish publishing house Special Stories Publishing in conjunction with Irish Autism Action has released an exciting and unique new children's book focusing on young children with Autism/ASD. The book is beautifully illustrated by Irish artist Caitriona Sweeney and is designed to introduce all...
Hello goodbye dog
Gianferrari, Maria
For Zara's dog, Moose, nothing is more important than being with his favorite girl. So when Zara has to go to school in her wheelchair, WHOOSH, Moose escapes and rushes to her side. Hello, Moose! Unfortunately, dogs aren't allowed at school and Moose has to go...
Ben, king of the river
Gifaldi, David.
An older boy is afraid his disabled brother will spoil the family's first camping trip.
The push : a story of friendship
Gray, Patrick 1975-
When Marcus moved next door to John, they knew instantly they'd be friends. Now John and Marcus do almost everything together. They go on lots of adventures, with Marcus pushing John's wheelchair and John fueling their escapades with jokes. Through their friendship, the boys discover that their...
How about a hug
Holcomb, Nan 1928-
Though it takes much concentration and will for her to accomplish each task, a little girl with Down's syndrome is happy to have many loving helpers along the way.
This little wonder : a no limits primer
Holub, Joan
Learn all about important leaders with disabilities in this engaging board book in the bestselling This Little series! Now even the youngest readers can learn all about important people whose wonderful talents shine bright from the disability community. Highlighting ten memorable...
Dachy's deaf
Hughes, Jack (Children's book illustrator)
Dachy isn't embarrassed by his hearing aid, but sometimes his friends are so loud he has to turn it off. One day, he does just that to get some peace and quiet, but that's the last thing he ends up getting. The adventure that follows drives home the importance of listening to and caring for your...
Sir Drake the Brave
Jordan-Lake, Joy 1963-
The magical story of how a boy with a disability who is bullied finds the hero within. As Drake gets ready for bed, his mother entertains his questions about tyrants, pirates, and dragons--which are really questions about the power of bullies. Their conversation reminds us all that...
Rescue & Jessica : a life-changing friendship
Kensky, Jessica
A 2019 Schneider Family Book Award Winner Based on a real-life partnership, the heartening story of the love and teamwork between a girl and her service dog will illuminate and inspire. Rescue thought he'd grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog -- it's the family business,...
Jacob's eye patch
Kobliner, Beth 1965-
Being different can be hard. This funny, spirited story--written by bestselling author of Get a Financial Life Beth Kobliner Shaw with her son Jacob, and illustrated by award-winning picture book artist Jules Feiffer--encourages young readers to embrace the thing that makes...
My city speaks
Lebeuf, Darren
A young girl, who is visually impaired, finds much to celebrate as she explores the city she loves. A young girl and her father spend a day in the city, her city, traveling to the places they go together: the playground, the community garden, the market, an outdoor concert. As they...
The boy with big, big feelings
Lee, Britney Winn
An instant classic in the world of Social-Emotional Learning, this bestselling picture book tells the story of one little boy with some big, big emotions -- and how he learns to see them for the gifts they are. The Boy with Big, Big Feelingsis relatable for any child -- especially for a...
Brave every day
Ludwig, Trudy
From social-emotional learning expert Trudy Ludwig and award-winning picture book illustrator Patrice Barton (co-creators of The Invisible Boy) comes a story about managing anxiety and finding the courage to stand up for yourself and others. Most kids love hide-and-seek,...
Too sticky! : sensory issues with autism
Malia, Jen
Holly loves experiments but doesn't like sticky things--how will she make slime? Holly loves doing experiments and learning new things in science class! But when she finds out the next experience is making slime, she's worried. Slime is made with glue, and...
Ricky, the rock that couldn't roll
Miletsky, Jason I.
Unlike the other rocks that he plays with, Ricky can't roll because he isn't round. His friends help him to overcome his challenge and find a way for him to play like everyone else.
Moses goes to a concert
Millman, Isaac
Isaac Millman tells Moses Goes to a Concert in pictures and written English, and in American Sign Language (ASL), introducing hearing children to the signs for some of the key words and ideas. Moses and his school friends are deaf, but like most children, they have a...
Ben and Emma's big hit
Newsom, Gavin Christopher 1967-
From California Governor Gavin Newsom comes an empowering picture book about a young boy with dyslexia who discovers a new way to look at reading. Ben loves baseball. He loves the lines of diamond-shaped field and the dome of the pitcher's mound. What Ben doesn't like is reading....
Wiggles, stomps, and squeezes calm my jitters down
Parker, Lindsey Rowe
"This book is for anyone who has ever felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze!" This is a story about sensory differences and how some children experience their world, told from a child's perspective. The vibration in her feet when she runs, the tap-tap-tap of...
My brother Charlie
Peete, Holly Robinson 1964-
From bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete--a heartwarming story about a boy who happens to be autistic, based on Holly's son, who has autism."Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his...
Curious George joins the team
Platt, Cynthia
Curious George has a playdate at a park designed for children of all abilities, perfect for his new friend, Tina, who uses a wheelchair. While they are playing together, Tina spots some kids playing her favorite game: basketball. George jumps right into the action, but Tina is...
Lucas makes a comeback
Plohl, Igor
Lucas fell, and now he lives with a disability. A story of grit and resilience. When Lucas falls off a ladder, he damages his spine and can't use his legs anymore. He can't stand on them and he can't walk on them. Read about how, with self-determination as well as...
You are a story
Raczka, Bob
An empowering reflection on the many things we are and the ways we relate to the world. Poet Bob Raczka's You are a Story highlights all of the nuance and potential of a growing person's identity, delighting in the things that make us special and connect us to others. Text...
A sky-blue bench
Rahman, Bahram 1984-
It's Afghan schoolgirl Aria's first day back at school since her accident. She's excited, but she's also worried about sitting on the hard floor all day with her new prosthetic "helper-leg." Just as Aria feared, sitting on the floor is so uncomfortable that she can't think about learning...
The big worry day
Reynolds, K. A.
A girl and her dog find ways to deal with her anxiety in this beautiful debut picture book A little girl is convinced that her dog worries, just like her. With a whole day ahead of them, she'll need to figure out how to soothe them both. She prepares snacks, first aid, and even a...
Russ and the almost perfect day
Rickert, Janet Elizabeth.
Russ is having a great day - his mum makes his favourite breakfast; he catches his favourite TV show; and he finds five dollars in the street. At school, things get better and better until he and his friend find a girl crying because she has lost five dollars What should the friends do?
The alphabet war : a story about dyslexia
Robb, Diane Burton.
Best Children's Books of the Year, Bank Street College Why was reading so hard? When Adam started kindergarten, the teacher wanted him to learn about letters. But "p" looked like "q," and "b" looked like "d." Adam would rather color or mold clay. In first grade, his teacher wanted...
Sarah's sleepover
Rodriguez, Bobbie.
Sarah and her cousins are all set for a sleepover weekend complete with hot chocolate, pillow fights, and ghost stories--until the power goes out in a storm and plunges them into total darkness. Sarah isn't worried. Because she is blind, she is able to guide the rest of the girls safely through the...
The little king and his marshmallow kingdom
Rotella, Louis.
King Louie the IV rules over Marshmallow Kingdom where the sun always shines and every meal is a picnic -- with yummy marshmallows for dessert. Follow King Louie as he helps his friends understand that even though he is unique and different, he still loves to do kid-like things!
Brilliant Bea
Rudolph, Shaina
An endearing and empowering story that demonstrates that a learning difference like dyslexia doesn't define who you are. Despite her struggles with reading and writing, Beatrice is a natural and brilliant storyteller. With the help of a kind-hearted teacher, Beatrice uses an old...
If I was a pirate
Salter, Margaret
Evelyn is a young girl in a wheelchair, who loves reading adventure stories. She imagines what it would be like to be a pirate captain. With her own ship, crew, and rules, she could sail anywhere in the world and have all kinds of adventures.
I talk like a river
Scott, Jordan 1978-
Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to? Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to...
Tully and Me
Shaw, Keeley
Tully and Me explores a friendship built on differences and understanding. Tully represents an individual affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. The unique characteristics associated with Autism are portrayed including an affinity for counting and order, and a love for visual stimulation....
Best day ever!
Singer, Marilyn
A sweet dog-loves-kid/kid-loves-dog story, in which the kid uses a wheelchair, from an award-winning children's poet and talented debut illustrator. This playful puppy thinks she's having the best day ever! She's so happy to be out with her friend, she doesn...
My must-have mom
Smith, Maudie
When Jake's mom upcycles every last thing in the apartment, Jake begins to worry that the only thing left to change is . . . him!Jake's mom is not like most moms. Say there's a dumpster in the street, most moms will pass right by without a second glance. Not Jake's mom. "Look at this, Jake!" she'll...
Don't worry, Murray
Stein, David Ezra
The perfect gift for dog lovers! Bark, George meets Wemberly Worried in this new classic picture book from David Ezra Stein, Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Interrupting Chicken and Leaves. The ideal read for back-to-school anxiety and soothing nerves all year long. ...
Ali and the sea stars
Stroker, Ali 1987-
Tony Award-winning actress Ali Stroker captures the magic and community of theater in her debut picture book, about a spirited girl in a wheelchair who stages a show for her hometown. Based on the pivotal summer Ali performed in her first musical by the Jersey Shore! Ali...
Dear girl
Swerts, An 1973-
An emotional and necessary tale about early-onset dementia to help kids understand the disease and to understand that even though their loved ones might not remember who they are, they still love them. For children ages 7 years and up. Something is different about Grandpa. He...
A walk in the words
Talbott, Hudson
Winner of a Schneider Family Honor! "A beautifully rendered and deeply inspiring book for everyone who has ever read slowly-myself included! Hudson shows us the beauty and magic that can come from taking our time. Brilliant."-Jacqueline Woodson Hudson Talbott's...
Caillou meets Sophie : a story about autism
Thompson, Kim 1964-
Understanding autism While playing at the park, Caillou meets Sophie, an autistic girl. She doesn'tspeak, doesn't like loud noises, but sees many beautiful things that otherchildren usually don't notice. In her very own way, she communicates withCaillou. At her side,...
You're all kinds of wonderful
Tillman, Nancy
We're not all the same. Thank goodness we're not. Life would be boring, and I mean... a lot. And so, when we're born, we're supplied at the start with our own bells and whistles to set us apart. Think of your bells as the things...
Why are you looking at me? : I just have Down Syndrome
Tompkins, Lisa
This story is about the life of a child with Down Syndrome that wants to be your friend. Lynn may look different than most children, but has many of the same likes and dislikes. Help your child discover what it means to accept and embrace a relationship with people who are different.
Hero at home
Verardo, Sarah
"As a pediatrician, I know kids need help processing the changes that come when a parent has an injury or illness. Hero at Home is a heartfelt, one-of-a-kind book that simply and beautifully explains to children the life of our wounded heroes and their families. This book is the perfect start to a...
Amigos : friends forever
Walko.
The world can present many obstacles--for people with a handicap, simply getting from place to place can be a major challenge. A dog named Pedro wants to explore the world but his lack of sight makes it too dangerous for him to dodge the whizzing cars on a busy street. He meets Rosalie the cat, who...
Awesomely Emma
Webb, Amy 1977-
Fans of When Charley Met Emmawill love seeing Emma champion her inner awesomeness in this inspirational sequel that teaches readers about the power of self-advocacy. Emma has limb differences, but different isn't bad, sad, or strange. It's just different! But when some accessibility...
When Charley met Emma
Webb, Amy 1977-
Winner of the 2019 Foreword INDIES Award Bronze Medal, When Charley Met Emmateaches kids about disability, empathy, and the beauty of friendships with people who are different from you. When Charley goes to the playground and sees Emma, a girl with limb differences who gets around in a...
Brody the Lion : sometimes I roar!
Wegner, Kristin
Brody the Lion: Sometimes I ROAR Is the first book in the Brody the Lion Series. Brody the lion was as proud as could be his birthday was coming he was going to be 3. But for this little cub with autism a birthday party causes big problems. As Brody roars, his Mom & Dad do their best to calm their...
Susan laughs
Willis, Jeanne.
Susan laughs, she sings. she rides, she swings. She gets angry, she gets sad, she is good, she is bad... Told in rhyme, this story follows Susan through a series of familiar activities. She swims with her father, works hard in school, plays with her friends -- and...
My friend Isabelle
Woloson, Eliza.
Isabelle and Charlie are friends. They both like to draw, dance, read, and play at the park. They both like to eat Cheerios. They both cry if their feelings are hurt. And like most friends, they are also different from each other. Isabelle has Down syndrome. Charlie doesn't. Written by...
Noah chases the wind
Worthington, Michelle 1976-
Winner of the silver medal in the Moonbeam Children's Books Award in the Picture Book 4-8-year-old category from Independent Publisher Winner of the Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award Noah knew he was different. He could see things that...
Up and Adam
Zapata, Debbie
A boy with Down syndrome lifts spirits all over town! It's the day after the big storm. Adam and his dog, Up, are finishing breakfast when the mayor appears on TV asking everyone to help with the cleanup. She says, 'Now, it's time to get to work. Up and at 'em!' When Adam hears the mayor tell him...

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