Books on disabilities for children

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These stories have a main character with Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The prominent symptoms of these disorders are inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity.

Eagle Eyes by Jeanne Gehert
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Ben learns to recognize and control his ADHD, and develops his natural abilities to concentrate and learn.

Eukee the Jumpy Jumpy Elephant by Clifford L. Corman
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This is a story for young children who are struggling with attention deficit disorder. Eukee has ADHD and is very jumpy!

Otto Learns About His Medication by Matthew Galvin
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Otto, a young car, visits a special engine mechanic and receives an engine treatment to help him run at the right speed. The author uses this metaphor to explain the nature of AD/HD, and the process of getting a psychiatric evaluation.

Pay Attention, Slosh by Mark Smith
Reading level: Ages 9-12

Although Josh (Slosh) is smart when it comes to computers and math, he also has ADHD--Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity Disorder. Over time, Josh's classmates come to appreciate him as just another one of the guys.

Shelley, the Hyperactive Turtle by Deborah M. Moss

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Shelley the turtle has a very hard time sitting still, even for short periods of time. During a visit to the doctor, Shelley learns that he is hyperactive, and that he can take medicine every day to control his wiggly feeling. With help from his doctor and love from his family, Shelley feels much better about himself.

Sit Still! by Nancy L. Carlson

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Teachers and parents will immediately recognize Patrick, the subject of this appealing, slice-of-life picture book: He is the child who just can't sit still.


This story has a main character with AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

Alex, the Kid With AIDS by Linda Walvoord Girard
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Alex, who has AIDS, feels isolated. All changes when he makes a friend and encounters a teacher who challenges him.


These stories have a main character with either an amputated limb or other mobility restrictions.

Annie Loses Her Leg but Finds Her Way by Sandra J. Philipson
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Based on an actual incident, this is a story of an English Springer Spaniel who loses her front leg to cancer.

Fanny by Stephen Cosgrove
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Fanny, a kitten with only three legs, and her friend Ruby, a puppy, help the other farm animals learn that being handicapped is only a state of mind.

Harry and Willy and the Carrothead by Judith Caseley
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Harry was born with no left hand, but that didn't keep him from becoming a good baseball player--or a good friend.

The Making of My Special Hand: Madison's Story by Jamee Riggio Heelan Reading level: Ages 4-8

Step by step description of how the doctor makes "Madisons very special hand."


These stories have a main character with asthma/allergies that affect the respiratory system.

Allie the Allergic Elephant : A Children's Story of Peanut Allergies by Nicole S. Smith

Reading level: Ages 4-8

This is a great book for explaining food allergies to all children.

The Lion Who Had Asthma by Jonathan London
Reading level: Baby- Preschool

Sean pretends to be a variety of animals until he has an asthma attack, but after his breathing treatment, he can roar like a lion again.

Zooallergy: A Fun Story About Allergy and Asthma Triggers by Kim Gosselin Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book helps children learn about allergy testing, asthma, and allergy triggers. Two friends go to the zoo, and while there, they make a game of discovering things like animal fur, dust, and dander that would trigger their allergy and asthma.


These stories have a main character with breast cancer.

Michael's Mommy Has Breast Cancer by Lisa Torrey
Reading level: Ages 4-8

An excellent aid in teaching young children about the illness of breast cancer

The Hope Tree: Kids Talk About Breast Cancer by Laura Numeroff, Wendy Schlessel Harpham, David M. McPhail
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Cuddly animal characters talk about breast cancer.

Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy by Amelia Frahm
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book is a unique and powerful tool that can help any family facing the unfortunate situation of a parent having breast cancer.


These stories have a main character with cancer.

Good Luck, Mrs. K by Louise Borden
Reading level: Ages 4-8

A third grader's happy year is interrupted when her beloved teacher gets cancer.

Kathy's Hats: A Story of Hope by Trudy Krisher

Reading level: Ages 4- 8

A little girl loses her hair as a result of treatment for cancer, and she hates the hats she wears to cover her baldness until her mother tells her she should also be wearing a thinking cap

Our Mom Has Cancer by Adrienne Ackermann, Abigail Ackermann

Reading level: Ages 9-12

Written and illustrated by two sisters, it conveys what kids want to know about their parent being sick from cancer. It showed the passage of time during treatment, and it showed that people were loving and kind and hopeful in the midst of a rotten time.


This story has a main character with cerebral palsy, a disorder caused by brain damage which affects ability to control movements and posture.

Stretching Ourselves: Kids With Cerebral Palsy by Alden R. Carter
Reading level: Ages 4-8

In a straightforward essay, Carter talks about three children with cerebral palsy, a disease that affects the control of voluntary muscles. Emily, Tanner, and Nick have varying degrees of CP. They are shown doing regular kid things--going to school and playing with friends--as well as undergoing physical therapy and using a computer to communicate.


These stories have a main character with a hearing impairment.

A Button in Her Ear by Ada Bassett Litchfield
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This is a book to help kids understand what a hearing aid is and why some children need one. This book gives a humorous introduction to what a hearing aid is and how it works.

Dad and Me in the Morning by Pat Lakin
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book describes the relationship between a deaf child and his father, and the father's willingness to learn ASL (American Sign Language).

Happy Birthday, Grampie by Susan Pearson

Reading level: Ages 4-8

A poignant, warm story of how a granddaughter's love for her grandfather breaks through the barriers of language and age.

I'm Deaf and It's Okay by Lorraine Aseltine, Evelyn Mueller, Nancy Tait

Reading level: Ages 4-8

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.

Mandy by Barbara Booth
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This is a sensitive book about the experiences of a deaf child on a visit to her grandmother.

Moses Goes to A Concert by Isaac Millman
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Moses' deafness does not prevent him from enjoying a concert nor impede his communication with his classmates.

Silent Lotus by Jeanne M. Lee
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Lotus is a young Cambodian girl who is beautiful and graceful but who cannot hear or speak.


This story has a main character with diabetes, a disease that occurs when the body is not able to use sugar, as it should.

Even Little Kids Get Diabetes by Connie White Pirner
Reading level: Ages 4-8

A young girl who has diabetes describes her adjustments to the disease.


These stories have main characters with dyslexia or learning disabilities. Individuals with dyslexia have deficits in visual, auditory, or motor processes, which interfere with reading and reading comprehension. Individuals with learning disabilities have problems understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, write, spell or to do mathematical calculations.

I Am Not Dumb by Ahmed Motiar

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Johnny has a learning disability and is ridiculed by his peers because they fail to understand his difficulties with reading and writing.

My Name is Brain Brian by Jean Betrancourt

Reading level: Ages 9-12

The book tells a story about a boy named Brian who has dyslexia but does not know it. A caring teacher recognizes the symptoms of dyslexia and sets out to get Brian the help he needs.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Mr. Falker, a teacher, makes a difference in the life of a student who has a learning disability.

The Don't-Give-Up Kid and Learning Differences by Jeanne M. A. Gehret Reading level: Ages 9-12

This book helps children understand LD as a disability they can do something about. It is written in a way that helps explain what LD problems are and what can be done about them.

What Do You Mean I Have a Learning Disability? by Kathleen M. Dwyer, Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book looks at Jimmy's learning disability, his poor self-image, and his struggle to overcome his limitations. His story will give encouragement to children in a similar situation. Also included are a list of well-known people with learning disabilities.


This story has a main character with epilepsy, a seizure disorder.

Lee, the Rabbit With Epilepsy by Deborah M. Moss

Reading level: Ages 4-8

This full-color beautifully illustrated tale tells the story of Lee, a young rabbit who has her first seizure during a fishing trip with her grandpa. Once home, her parents take her to the doctor, who examines her and discovers that she has epilepsy. Lee's doctor explains epilepsy in clear, reassuring terms and gives her special medicine. Once Lee's seizures are controlled, she and her family discover that she can do everything she used to do, including her favorite pastime, fishing.


These stories have main characters with mental retardation, autism, or down's syndrome. Mental retardation is characterized by limitations in both intelligence and adaptive skills. Autism is a complex developmental disability which affects social interactions as well as verbal and nonverbal communication. Down's syndrome is a genetic condition caused by extra genetic material (genes) from the 21st chromosome.

Ben, King of the River by David Gifaldi
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Chad is not looking forward to camping with his younger brother, who is developmentally disabled. The story shows the different emotions that the sibling of a mentally disabled individual might feel and thus should be helpful to a child facing the same situation.

Dustin's Big School Day by Alden R. Carter
Reading level: Ages 4-8

The bright, colorful photos show an engaging, happy little boy who has Down syndrome. This is a wonderful little story which emphasizes not how "different' Dustin is but how excited he is about the special event of the day.

How Smudge Came by Nan Gregory
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Cindy, a young person with Autism, lives in a group home. She finds a stray puppy in a snowstorm, sneaks it up to her room, and snuggles up to it in bed.

Just Kids: Visiting a Class for Children With Special Needs by Ellen Senisi

Reading level: Ages 9-12

On the school playground, Cindy snaps at Ashley: ``Don't touch me! You've got bugs--you're in the retard class. Cindy is required to spend some time each day in the special-needs class, where she becomes friends with children with Down syndrome, epilepsy, attention disorders, and autism.

My Sister Is Special by Larry Jansen

Reading level: Ages 4-8

A little boy learns compassion and patience as he cares for his "special" little sister, who has Down's Syndrome.

Russ and the Almost Perfect Day by Janet Elizabeth Rickert
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Russ, who has Down Syndrome, finds a five-dollar bill on the way to school. He plans on buying ice cream with the money until he sees one of his friends crying because she lost her lunch money.

Russ and the Apple Tree Surprise by Janet Elizabeth Rickert
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Russ, who has Downs Syndrome, longs for a swing set in his backyard instead of an apple tree.

Russ and the Firehouse by Janet Elizabeth Rickert
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Russ and the Firehouse is a four-alarm hit! Russ, a five-year-old boy with Down syndrome, tags along with his Uncle Jerry, a fireman, during a day of work at a real firehouse.

Somebody Called Me a Retard Today…and My Heart Felt Sad by Ellen O'Shaughnessy
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book is for anyone (with or without disabilities) who has ever been hurt by someone else's unkind words.

We'll Paint the Octopus Red by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
Reading level: Ages 4-8

When Emma learns she'll have a new sibling soon, she thinks of all the activities she can do with the baby. But when her brother Isaac is born with Down syndrome, her father explains that she can probably do all of the activities she had planned.

What's Wrong with Timmy? by Maria Shriver

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Kate questions her mother about Timmy, a boy at the park who has mental retardation, and who looks and acts differently from the other kids.


These stories have main characters with visual impairments.

Apartment 3 by Ezra Jack Keats
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Wondering who's playing the harmonica in their apartment building, young Sam and his brother listen in the hallway but only hear the sounds of other tenants eating, arguing, and snoring. They finally find the source--a blind man--and a friendship begins.

Through Grandpa's Eyes by Patricia MacLachlan
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book talks about relying on your other senses when you are blind and shows that people who are blind can lead a productive life.


These stories have main characters that use wheelchairs or have other mobility related issues.

Arnie and the New Kid by Nancy L. Carlson
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Top cat Arnie teases Philip because he uses a wheelchair. Yet when Arnie falls down the school steps and breaks a leg, twists a wrist, and sprains a tail, he begins to see life from a different perspective.

Earl the EMU by Pat Winston
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Earl the Emu is a great book for average and special kids because it teaches youngsters how to value others. The boy in the story, Jason, has a brace on his leg. This book gives readers with physical limitations and disabilities a story character they can identify with.

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This picture book is a positive portrayal of a mother with a physical disability, yet does wonderful fun things with her little boy, even "zoom him to the stars".

Nick Joins In by Joe Lasker

Reading level: Ages 4-8

This story shows a child's inclusion in everyday activities, while he uses his wheelchair.

One Golden Year: A Story of a Golden Retriever by Coleen Hubbard

Reading level: Ages 9-12

For one happy year, Caitlin and her mother raise and train a puppy to become a companion dog for the disabled. Albion, the loving, intelligent Golden Retriever, graduates from training and is given to a girl in a wheelchair who is Caitlin's age.

Princess Pooh by Kathleen M. Muldoon
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Patty Jean is jealous over her sister's special treatment by being in a wheelchair. Patty Jean takes the wheelchair one afternoon and she finds out that life in a wheelchair is not as wonderful as it appears.

Rolling Along With Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Cindy Meyers
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This picture book is an adaptation of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the classic folktale retold with a special-needs twist. Baby Bear uses a wheelchair, goes to physical therapy while his porridge cools, and ultimately makes friends with Goldilocks.

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis
Reading level: Ages 4-8

A little girl is shown participating in everyday activities and emotions. Not until the last spread is it revealed that she uses a wheelchair.

The Barn at Gun Lake by Sharon Lamson, Johnnie Tuitel, Eduardo Pilande Reading level: Ages 9-12

Johnnie was born with cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. He is challenged to overcome his limitations in order to be accepted by the kids in his new town. To join the Gun Lake Gang, he needs to complete an initiation.


Circles of Friends: People With Disabilities and Their Friends Enrich the Lives of One Another by Robert Perske

Reading level: Ages 4-8

For people who think you can't be a friend to a person with a disability, you be amaze by reading this book- it will open your eyes and heart.

The Disability Rights Movement by Deborah Kent

Reading level: Ages 9-12

The course of events leading to the breakdown of barriers and the establishment of laws to improve opportunities and facilities for the disabled is outlined. Individual disabled activists are credited with much of the success of the movement. Lots of bright, positive-looking photographs illustrate the book.

Don't Call Me Special: A First Look at Disability by Pat Thomas
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Younger children can find out about individual disabilities, special equipment that is available to help people with disabilities, and how people of all ages can deal with disabilities and live happy and full lives.

Extraordinary Friends (Let's Talk About It) by Fred Rogers
Reading level: Ages 4-8

In the "Let's Talk About It" series, Rogers addresses how to befriend those who walk, talk, learn, or behave in ways considered different from the norm.

Friends at School by Rochelle Bunnett
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This wonderful book shows children with different abilities busily working and playing together at school. It shows that, given the opportunity, children readily accept one another's differences.

Henry and the White Wolf by Tim Karu
Reading level: Ages 4-8

An illustrated storybook to help kids who are sick, or kids with friends who are sick, or kids whose parents, siblings, or teachers are sick.

How It Feels to Live With a Physical Disability by Jill Krementz

Reading level: Ages 4-8

Children living with physical disabilities as blindness, cerebral palsy, paralysis, and missing limbs are shown in this book. This book gives first person stories about different kids with different disabilities.

Howie Helps Himself by Joan Fassler

Reading level: Ages 4-8

The story is about Howie's frustrations and triumphs as he struggles to become more independent.

My Brother, Matthew by Mary Thompson
Reading level: Ages 4-8

My Brother, Matthew offers a sibling's point-of-view of the ups and downs of life when his brother is born with a disability.

My Brother Sammy by Becky Edwards
Reading level: Ages 4-8

My Brother Sammy explores the feelings of a child with a brother who has special needs. The book successfully deals with complicated sibling relationships.

My Buddy by Audrey Osofsky
Reading level: Ages 4-8

This heart-touching story focuses on the wonderful friendship between a boy with a disability and his loyal golden retriever.

Paper Chain by Claire Blake, Eliza Blanchard, Kathy Parkinson, Elizabeth Murphy-Melas
Reading level: Ages 4-8

The Paper Chain is a wonderful book to help families cope with an ill parent. Beautifully illustrated with excellent coverage of the important issues, it is sensitive, realistic, insightful and practical.

Someone Special, Just Like You by Tricia Brown
Reading level: Ages 4-8

Brown and Ortiz show that the differences that seem to separate children with disabilities from others are not important. What is important is the common delight in life--a desire to love, learn and play, and to be accepted for themselves as other children are.

Special People, Special Ways by Arlene Maguire and Sheila Bailey

Reading level: Ages 4-8

"Special People, Special Ways" presents a positive image of persons with disabilities. It shares the message that even though each of us may have something different about us, we share many commonalities. Coupled with the colorful illustrations, the book conveys the message that although painful at times, being different can also be glorious.

Talking About Disability by Jillian Powell

Reading level: Ages 4-8

This book discusses what it means to be physically disabled. A note to adults offers suggestions for talking with children about this topic. It is an excellent resource for teaching children about disability.

Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up With a Brother or Sister With Special Needs by Donald J. Meyer
Reading level: Ages 9-12

"I can't imagine having a plain old sister," writes Ryan Clearwater, age ten, in one of the 45 essays in Views from Our Shoes. Ryan and the other boys and girls whose essays are featured in this collection range in age from four to eighteen. They share their experiences as the brother or sister of someone with a disability-the good and bad aspects, as well as many thoughtful observations.

We Can Do It! by Laura Dwight
Reading level: Ages 4-8

We Can Do It has photographs of 5 children with Down Syndrome, spina bifida, blindness and cerebral palsy having fun and enjoying ordinary activities at home and at school

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