In honor of Disability Awareness Month, here’s a roundup of books to share with readers, representing the rich lives of disabled people in sports, the arts, and beyond.
Tenacious: Fifteen Adventures Alongside Disabled Athletes by Patty Cisneros Prevo and illustrated by Dion MBD
“This is precisely the book I dreamed of growing up as a young girl with a disability. It shows what is possible to achieve and acknowledges the very real hard points, while fostering and supporting healthy, positive disability identity development.” —Dr. Anjali Forber-Pratt, Paralympic medalist and disability activist
Benji, the Bad Day, and Me by Sally Pla and illustrated by Ken Min
★ “Pla’s story of sibling love makes Benji’s autism known without ever making it the focus; Benji is about bad days, empathy and familial relationships. This tale came from Pla’s own life, in which her ‘autistic and non-autistic sons… had fuzzy blankets’ and often asked to be ‘wrapped tight into burritos’ with them. . . Wholly heartwarming.” —Shelf Awareness, starred review
I Love Recess by Elena Castro, Barbara M. Flores, Eddie Hernández
A boy shows us some of the things he likes to play during recess.
King for a Day by Rukhsana Khan and illustrated by Christiane Krömer
★ “Focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival. . . Krömer’s inventive compositions are a visually exciting match for Khan’s introduction to an appealing event. This story soars.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Knockin’ On Wood: Starring Peg Leg Bates written and illustrated by Lynne Barasch
★ “This inspiring biography of Clayton ‘Peg Leg’ Bates, who lost his left leg in a cottonseed mill accident in 1919 at the age of 12, chronicles the man’s amazing life from his days as the son of a sharecropper in South Carolina to his rise to fame as a tap dancer . . . Barasch’s watercolor-and-ink cartoon paintings capture the poverty of the dancer’s early life, the adulation of his fans, and his joyous love of dancing.” —School Library Journal, starred review
Rainbow Joe and Me written and illustrated by Maria Diaz Strom
“A blind musician shows a child new ways of creating colors in this exuberant debut. . . The radiant blues and browns and oranges [Diaz Strom] has chosen fire her simply composed urban scenes with joie de vivre. Heighten budding painters’ awareness of the possibilities of color with this chromatic symphony.” —Booklist
Ray Charles by Sharon Bell Mathis and illustrated by George Ford
“Winner of both the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Ray Charles by Sharon Bell Mathis, illus. by George Ford, originally published in 1973, traces the star’s surmounting of incredible obstacles to become one of the world’s greatest jazz musicians. Ford’s illustrations capture every emotional nuance, from Ray’s disappointment at being tricked by classmates as a child, to his strength as a man, refusing to perform to segregated audiences.” —Publishers Weekly
Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy by Bill Wise and illustrated by Adam Gustavson
“[Hoy] played for 14 years with several major league teams, racking up solid statistics and several fielding records. . . When he faced a deaf pitcher in a historic game in 1902, each signed recognition of the other’s remarkable achievements. Employing rich descriptive language with just the right combination of drama and information, Wise emphasizes Hoy’s steadfastness and determination in his baseball exploits and in every endeavor before and after his career. . . Fascinating.” —Kirkus Reviews
Featherless/Desplumado by Juan Felipe Herrera and illustrated by Ernesto Cuevas
“Cuevas’s paintings are full-spread and boldly colored, combining realism with cartoon-style simplicity; their broad washes and fuzzy edges reveal the texture of the paper on which they were created. Both Spanish and English texts are direct, inviting, and expressive.” —Kirkus Reviews
Access the teacher’s guide.
Jay and Ben by Lulu Delacre and Katharine Swanson, and illustrated by Lulu Delacre
“Books like this can generate even more ideas to share narrative, symbol, learning, and fun with all children. By doing so, adults are helping children make sense of the world around them as they learn to decode it.” —Reading Rockets