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From My Wheelchair to Your Bookshelf: Our Top 10 Diverse Children's Books

Welcome to our Top 10 Diverse Children's Book List, curated by a mother who sees the world from a unique perspective - seated in a wheelchair. Embracing the richness of diversity and the power of representation, these selections reflect the experiences of children from all walks of life. Through these pages, we celebrate the beauty of inclusion and the boundless imagination that knows no limits. Join us as we embark on a journey through literature that uplifts, inspires, and reflects the diverse tapestry of our world, one story at a time.

Number 10

The abilities in me series written by Gemma Keir and illustrated by Adam Walker-Parker are a set of educational books that do an excellent job of brining awareness to the true experiences of children with these disabilities. Each book explains disability in a way children understand, gives an insight into the a day in the life of children with disabilities and does so without focusing solely on the medicine or by treating the children as case studies. These are human stories that connect us all - no matter our ability.

The Abilities in Me: Down Syndrome - Read by Bailey Guthrie

You can buy it, and many other books from this series, here:


Number 9

Completely Emme is a book about compassion, acceptance and awareness written by Dr. Justine Green and illustrated by Ana Luísa Silva. It tells the story of a little girl with Cerebral Palsy and has a hidden butterfly to find on every page! Like the abilities in me series, this book is able to be educational without being clinical.

Completely Emme - Read by Author Justine Green ED.D.

You can buy it here:


Number 8

You are Enough is a book about inclusion inspired by Model and Disability Advocate Sofia Sanchez, written by Margaret O'Hair and Sofia Sanchez, and illustrated by Sofia Cardoso. It's an uplifting story about diversity, inclusivity and empowerment within yourself and the disenabled community.

You are Enough - Read by Imaginary Pages

You can buy it here:


Number 7

Hello Goodbye Dog written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Patrice Barton tells the story of a girl and her dog who becomes her service animal so they can be together, even when she is at school. Told from the perspective of Moose the dog, this is the story of all the Yes and No in his life and his adventures seeking more Yes. The biggest Yes in his life is spending more time with his favourite person.

Hello Goodbye Dog - Read by the North African American Museum

You can buy it here:


Number 6

This beautiful story of a dance between father and daughter aptly named Dancing with Daddy was written by Anitra Rowe Schulte and illustrated by Ziyue Chen. It tells the story of a little girl excited to go to a school dance with her father, the dress she picks, the delicious cake she eats and the dance itself. Her excitement, trepidation and joy centres around her deep familial connection at the heart of the story. It is worth the read!

Dancing with Daddy - Read by Ripple

You can buy it here:


Number 5

Written by Dana Meachen Rau and illustrated by Bari Weissman, Secret Code follows Oscar and Lucy who bond over their love of reading. Fascinated by his 'secret code' Lucy takes the time to learn Braille from Oscar who is excited to share part of his world with her. By the end, they are she can read Braille and her enthusiasm is shared by the whole class. This story showcases the joy of sharing unique experiences and how it enriches everyone.

The Secret Code - Read by Lora Fachie

You can buy it here:


Number 4

Written by Karen Hardwick and Illustrated by Amanda Walker, Jack Signs! tells the story of Jack, the importance of sign language for children with a hearing impairment and how accessible language empowers people. It shows the start of his journey into sign language, the bumps along the way and how accessible language has helped him grow into himself and connect with his mother.

As someone who is hard of hearing and who uses sign language, I was thrilled not just by the content, but by the way it was written to be easily translated into sign language and with sections that follow sign language grammar. This book isn't just about a child who has a hearing impairment, it is for a child that has a hearing impairment and was carefully crafted for those children.

Jack Signs! - Read by Leanne Signed Stories

You can buy it here:


Number 3

I Talk like a River written by Jordan Scott and Illustrated by Sydney Smith is a book about the power of a parent's compassion and how that connection and relationship shapes the way children see and understand themselves. It has won both the Schneider Family Book Award and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

I particularly enjoyed the nature metaphors for his voice, mouth and speech because by linking his stutter with nature showed that it wasn't unnatural. He found his strength by changing the way he thought about his disability - which is a powerful message for disabled children to hear.

I Talk Like a River - Read by Ed Sheeran

You can buy it here:


Number 2

Rose Robbins is the Author and Illustrator of Talking is not my Thing, a story about a little non-verbal autistic girl and all they ways she communicates with her family and her brother. The use of speech bubbles was a beautiful way to show how much she understands, how much she wants to say and all her ideas. Through flash cards, drawings, body language and behaviour she is able to communicate with those around her and express herself.

Talking is not my Thing - Read by the Blythedale Bookworms

You can buy it here:


Number 1

The number one spot has gone to two books, What Happened to You? written by James Catchpole and illustrated by Karen George; and You're So Amazing! written by both James Catchpole and Lucy Catchpole and illustrated again by Karen George.

You're So Amazing!

I found this book at the Sunderland City Library while visiting with my daughter. As someone in a wheelchair I was immediately drawn to the cover, but I hesitated a moment before picking it up because I was worried that this was going to be yet another book written by an able bodied person praising disabled people for doing every-day things - I got enough of that in my day-to-day life! But something about how casual the boy was playing football gave me a feeling that this book might go in a different direction. My instincts were right and the book spoke to a truth about living with a visible disability in a way I have seldom seen before and the ending made me cry.

When I got to the end I realised why it was so good and so accurate to my lived experience - it was written by someone with a disability who had the skill to translate his own experiences into a simply astonishing piece of work.

You're So Amazing! - read by Bedtime Stories with Zoe

You can buy it here:

What Happened to You?

I found this book after You're So Amazing, which I quickly realised was the second of the two books. This books deals with the age old question that everyone with a visible disability has had to hear: "what happed to you?" Often stemming from curiosity, this question is thrown around as if there is no harm in the asking when there is. Outside of the obvious reasons like 'it could be from a traumatic event,' the most important reason is because it's no one's business to know and disabled people do not owe curious people an answer to this question. Children, being naturally curious, don't always see this boundary and so navigating a conversation with them about it can be difficult. This story does it beautifully and the ending is inspiring and uplifting.

I didn't know how much I needed to read this book, but now that I have I feel seen and empowered and I hope your children do too when they read it.

What Happened to You? - Read by Author James Catchpole

You can buy it here:



As a mother in a wheelchair, I had to include one bonus book that helped me in my motherhood journey. Mama Zooms written and illustrated by Jane Cowen-Fletcher tells the story of a day out from baby's perspective. The creative imaginings as mama zoomed were delightful and helped me see myself from my daughter's perspective.

Mama Zooms - Read by Speechie Spectacle

You can buy it here:

Happy Reading!

As we conclude our Top 10 Diverse Children's Book List, 'From My Wheelchair to Your Bookshelf,' we're reminded that every child deserves to see themselves reflected in the stories they read. Through the lens of diversity and inclusion, we've explored narratives that celebrate the richness of human experience, offering a glimpse into worlds both familiar and new. May these stories continue to inspire empathy, foster understanding, and ignite the imaginations of young readers everywhere. Let us continue to champion diverse voices and ensure that every child's story is heard and valued. Happy reading, and may the magic of storytelling continue to unite us all.

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