Children's Literature On Physical Disabilities

In thinking about instructional practice related to physical disabilities, I began to think about how important it is to teach all children, disabled or not, about physical disabilities so that they are respectful and accepting of individuals with physical disabilities. One of the best ways to instruct children of all ages is through literature, and I discovered this list complied by the National Information Center for Youth and Children with Disabilities. The listing also includes titles that deal with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), blindness, cerebral palsy, deafness, learning disabilities, and serious or life-threatening conditions. The key and physcial disabilities listings are presented below and the complete listing is available at:


The following codes are used to identify the appropriate readers of each book:

JP= Juvenile Picture Book
Suitable for preschoolers to third graders, these books are generally 32 pages in length, with an illustration on each page and minimal text; typically designed for parents to read to their children or for older children to read on their own

JE = Juvenile Easy Reader
Suitable for children who are beginning to read on their own, such as those in first or second grade; ranging from 30 to 80 pages long, these books depend upon repetition of words, phrases, and sentence patterns, and have a controlled or limited vocabulary; illustrations are included to break up the text, which is generally in an easy-to-read large typeface

JF = Juvenile Fiction
Known as children's fiction or chapter books, these are suitable for children in Grades 2-6; ranging in length from 60 to 200 pages, the books are generally divided into chapters, contain fewer illustrations, and have more complicated plots or concepts than either JP or JE books

YA = Young Adult
Intended for young adults ranging from Grade 5 through Grade 12, these books present more complicated plots and deal with topics and concerns of general interest to the young adult population; not all libraries have a young adult section, so it may be necessary to look for these books in the adult collection

Physical Disabilities Literature Listing

Behrman, Carol H. (1992). Fiddler to the world: The inspiring life of Itzhak Perlman. White Hall, VA: Shoe Tree Press. (YA, non-fiction)

Bergman, T. (1989). On our own terms: Children living with physical disabilities. Milwaukee: Gareth Stevens Children's Books. (JE, nonfiction)

Butler, Beverly. (1994). Witch's fire. New York: Cobblehill Books. (Wheelchair) (JF)

Calvert, Patricia. (1993). Picking up the pieces. New York: Scribner's, Maxwell Macmillan International. (About spinal cord injury) (YA)

Carlson, Nancy L. (1990). Arnie and the new kid. New York: Viking. (About a boy in a wheelchair) (JP)

De Angeli, Marguerite. (1989). The door in the wall. New York: Doubleday. (YA)

Feuer, Elizabeth. (1990). Paper doll. New York: Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. (YA)

Glover, Nancy. (1990). Speedway Sam: A book about spinal injury for children. Birmingham, AL: University of Alabama at Birmingham. (Grades 3-6)

Johnston, Julie. (1992). Hero of lesser causes. Boston: Joy Street Books. (About a child with polio) (YA)

Krementz, Jill. (1992). How it feels to live with a physical disability. New York: Simon & Schuster. (YA, nonfiction)

Kriegsman, K.H., Zaslow, E.L., & D'Zmura-Rechsteiner, J. (1992). Taking charge: Teenagers talk about life and physical disabilities. Rockville, MD: Woodbine House. (YA, Grades 7-12)

Meyer, Carolyn. (1990). Killing the kudu. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. (About paraplegia) (YA)

Muldoon, K.M. (1989). Princess pooh. Niles, IL: Albert Whitman & Company. (About a young girl and her sister who uses a wheelchair) (JP)

Osofsky, Audrey. (1992). My buddy. New York: Henry Holt & Company. (About a boy with muscular dystrophy) (JP)

Panzarino, C., Lash, M., & Jacobs, J. (1994). Rebecca finds a way: How kids learn, play, and live with spinal cord injuries and illnesses. Woburn, MA: National Spinal Cord injury Association. (JF)

Peckinpah, S.L. (1993). Chester…the imperfect all-star. Woodland Hills, CA: Scholars Press. (About a young boy with a leg anomaly) (JP)

Springer, Nancy, (1991). Colt. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. (About a child with a crippling disease) (JF)

Strachan, Ian. (1990). The flawed glass. Boston: Little, Brown. (YA)

Taylor, Theodore. (1991). The weirdo. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. (YA)

Wells, Rosemary, & Craik, Dinah M. (1990). Little lame prince. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers. (JP)

Wright, Betty. (1989). Rosie and the dance of the dinosaurs. New York: Holiday House. (About a child with nine fingers) (J)

Added by Jennifer Kirmes