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List: young adult books about disability

Given the popularity of our list of YA books about bullying, I thought it might be timely to prepare a similar list of books that deal with disability. Its a wide-ranging list, and as always in no way comprehensive, so feel free to make any recommendations in the comments section.

i can jump puddles alan marshall List: young adult books about disability

I Can Jump Puddles by Alan Marshall

Blurb: I Can Jump Puddles is Alan Marshalls story of his childhood a happy world in which, despite his crippling poliomyelitis, he plays, climbs, fights, swims, rides and laughs. His world was the Australian countryside early last century: rough-riders, bushmen, farmers and tellers of tall stories a world held precious by the young Alan.


blabbermouth gleitzman1 List: young adult books about disability

Blabbermouth by Morris Gleitzman

Blurb: Set in Australia, this humorous and touching story of the misadventures of a clever girl who cannot speak and her social misfit of a father will delight readers.


raging quiet jordan List: young adult books about disability

The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan

A newcomer to the tiny village of Tocurra befriends a young man whose'deafness has left him isolated from his fellow villagers. Marnie and Raver learn to
communicate through a series of hand gestures, but when a death shakes the'village, their special, silent bond causes the two to fall under suspicion'of witchcraft.


monument paulsen List: young adult books about disability

The Monument by Gary Paulsen

Blurb: It all begins when Rocky follows Mick Strum around town while he sketches its people, animals and graveyard. Mick has been commissioned by Rockys Kansas town to create a memorial to their war dead.'As Rocky learns to respect Mick and his talents, he helps her to develop her own artistic sensibilities. It all begins when Rocky follows Mick Strum around town while he sketches its people, animals and graveyard. Mick has been commissioned by Rockys Kansas town to create a memorial to their war dead.'But the townspeople see things in Micks drawings that they dont want to know or accept about themselves. Can Mick help them accept one monument that will be meaningful to everyone?


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time List: young adult books about disability

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher is 15 and lives in Swindon with his father. He has Aspergers Syndrome, a form of autism. He is obsessed with maths, science and Sherlock Holmes but finds it hard to understand other people. When he discovers a dead dog on a neighbours lawn he decides to solve the mystery and write a detective thriller about it. As in all good detective stories, however, the more he unearths, the deeper the mystery gets for both Christopher and the rest of his family.


flowers for algernon List: young adult books about disability

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Blurb: Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlies intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importanceuntil Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?


rules cynthia lord List: young adult books about disability

Rules by Cynthia Lord

Blurb: Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life, which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She's spent years trying to teach her brother, David, the rules from 'a peach is not a funny-looking apple' to 'keep your pants on in public''in order to head off David's embarrassing behaviors.'But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new, sort-of friend, and Kristi, the potential next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?


 List: young adult books about disability List: young adult books about disability

Mindblind'by Jennifer Roy

Blurb:'Fourteen-year-old Nathaniel Clark lives in two worlds-the outside world of his family and friends and his own, special, inside Aspie world, where hes not forced to interact with people or worry about wearing his clothes right-side out. The world where he can solve mathematical problems that elude even the brightest graduate students. The world where he feels he can find his own inner truth. People say hes a genius, but Nathaniel thinks differently. According to a book he once read, a true genius uses his talent to make a contribution to the world. Nathaniel takes the definition literally, and begins his quest for genius status. I will start, right after I wash the chocolate off my face. If I want to be seen as a genius, I should not look like an idiot. Nathaniel has a sky-high IQ and perfect SAT scores, but Jennifer Roy and her husband, Greg, have a remarkable 8-year-old son, Adam, who not only inspired the character of Nathaniel Clark, but also created the Amazing Race charts and the narrative at the back of MindBlind.


are you alone on purpose werlin List: young adult books about disability

Are You Alone on Purpose? by Nancy Werlin

Blurb: Harry Roth is the bane of Alison Shandling?s existence. He?s obnoxious and rude, and thinks nothing of taunting brainy Alison or making comments about her autistic twin brother. Alison tries to ignore him, but since she sees him at school and at synagogue, he?s hard to avoid. Then Harry is injured in a diving accident and winds up in a wheelchair. Now Harry is vulnerable, too, and Alison finds herself inexplicably drawn to him. Initially cautious, these unlikely companions begin to understand each other, and their relationship grows first into a friendship and then into something more. . . .


peeling the onion orr List: young adult books about disability

Peeling the Onion by Wendy Orr

Blurb: Following an automobile accident in which her neck is broken, a teenage karate champion begins a long and painful recovery with the help of her family.


dont stop the music perske List: young adult books about disability

Dont Stop the Music by Robert Perske

Blurb: Joe and Jessica, two teens with cerebral palsy, become key elements in cracking an auto-theft ring.


tell me how the wind sounds guccione List: young adult books about disability

Tell Me How the Wind Sounds by Leslie Davis Guccione

Blurb: An ordinary summer at the beach becomes a life lesson in love and understanding when fifteen-year-old Amanda meets Jake, a seventeen-year-old deaf boy.


dakota dream bennett List: young adult books about disability

Dakota Dream by James W Bennett

Blurb: Shuffled from one foster home to anotherand from one institution to the nextfor most of his life, Floyd Rayfield is darn tired of traveling without a real destination. Floyd firmly believes that he will find his real home if he becomes a Sioux Indian. Determination, faith, and a lot of crazy luck help Floyd make the journey to the Sioux reservation and embark on the sort of vision quest on which only Native Americans are allowed. This is a touching, deeply-layered exploration of identity and belonging. Warriors come from the strangest places . .


wish on a unicorn List: young adult books about disability

Wish on a Unicorn by Karen Hesse

Blurb: Mags has a lot to wish for'a nice house with a mama who isn't tired out from work; a'normal little sister; a brother who doesn't mooch for food; and, once in a while, she'd like some new clothes for school. When her sister Hannie finds a stuffed unicorn, Mags's wishes start to come true. She knows the unicorn can't really be magic, but she won't let anything ruin her newfound luck'even if it means telling her own sister to believe something that can't possibly be true.


edith herself howard List: young adult books about disability

Edith Herself by Ellen Howard

Blurb: After the death of their widowed mother, Ediths older brothers and sister decide that they can manage the farm themselves. But Edith, the youngest, makes her home with her married sister, Alena; her husband, John; Vernon, their son; and baby Lettie. Soon the household is disrupted by Ediths fits. Edith must come to terms with her problem and her new life. Set in the 1890s before epilepsy was controlled and understood, this story is told warmly and well. It provides what so many current stories that deal with disability fail to providea focus on the child rather than the disability. Edith comes to terms, not with her disability, but rather with her new life and her own maturing, of which the disability is only a part. The other characters provide a realistic view of people struggling to deal with a disability, all in their own way. Overprotective Alena is balanced by Johns practicality. Vernon is rather proud of Ediths fits, and while some children taunt her, others defend her. The religiosity of the grandmother, who blames Ediths seizures on her laying up of treasures, provides another realistic dimension to this story.


dance to still music List: young adult books about disability

A Dance to Still Music by Barbara'Corcoran

Deafened by an illness, fourteen-year-old Margaret refuses to accept her condition and runs away in fear that her mothers remarriage may mean shell be sent to a boarding school for the deaf.


probably still nick swansen List: young adult books about disability

Probably Still Nick Swansen by'Virginia Euwer Wolff

Blurb: Nick Swansen pretty much knows what it means to be Special Ed.: You cant drive, even if youre sixteen and your parents have two cars; the regular kids in school dont talk to you much; and even if you can memorize every fact about amphibians, its hard to make sense of all the other stuff swirling in your mind. What he doesnt know is whether being Special Ed. means you shouldnt go to the prom. But since no rule says you cant, Nick decides to ask Shana.'But the prom doesnt turn out at all the way Nick expects it to, and everything bad seems to get all mixed up together: the prom, what Shana does, and the terrible thing that happened to Nicks sister nine years ago. Nick doesnt want to think about any of it, but he begins to realize that unless he makes peace with all the memories that trouble him, they will haunt him forever.


freak the mighty List: young adult books about disability

Freak the Mighty by Rodman'Philbrick

Blurb: Meet Maxwell Kane, narrator of Freak the Mighty. He's a timid soul stuck in the body of a teenage giant with size 14 shoes. Haunted by a dark secret in his past, he hides out in his basement room, avoiding the world. But when a new kid moves in next door Max's life changes forever. The two outcasts form the 'normal' world team up to become 'Freak the Mighty.''Like knights of old they defend the weak, right every wrong'and solve the mystery of Max's past. Proving once and for all that courage comes in all sizes.


ash fraustino List: young adult books about disability

Ash: A Novel by Lisa Rowe'Fraustino

Blurb: Eighteen-year-old Ashs change of behavior and its disruptive effects on his family are recounted by younger brother Wes.


marcelo in the real world francisco x stork List: young adult books about disability

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Blurb: Marcelo Sandoval hears music no one else can hearpart of the autism-like impairment no doctor has been able to identifyand hes always attended a special school where his differences have been protected. But the summer after his junior year, his father demands that Marcelo work in his law firms mailroom in order to experience the real world.'There Marcelo meets Jasmine, his beautiful and surprising coworker, and Wendell, the son of another partner in the firm. He learns about competition and jealousy, anger and desire. But its a picture he finds in a file a picture of a girl with half a face that truly connects him with the real world: its suffering, its injustice, and what he can do to fight.'Reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in the intensity and purity of its voice, this extraordinary novel is a love story, a legal drama, and a celebration of the music each of us hears inside.


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Paper Doll by Elizabeth Feuer

Blurb: Leslies poignant struggle for independence makes Paper doll a dynamic and touching portayal of the complex relationship between a young woman and her father.


big guy robin stevenson List: young adult books about disability

Big Guy by Robin Stevenson

Blurb: Derek thinks he might be falling in love. The problem is, he hasnt been entirely honest with his online boyfriend. Derek sent Ethan a photo taken before he got depressed and gained eighty pounds. Derek hasnt been honest with his employer either. When he lied about his age and experience to get a job with disabled adults, the last thing he expected was to meet a woman like Aaliyah. Smart, prickly and often difficult, Aaliyah challenges Dereks ideas about honesty and trust. Derek has to choose whether to risk telling the truth or to give up the most important relationship in his life.


see ya simon david hill List: young adult books about disability

See Ya, Simon by David Hill

Blurb: This funny and poignant novel tells the story of Nathan and his best friend, Simontwo 14-year-old boys with a passion for girls, soccer, weekends, girls, computers, and girls. Although Simon is confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy, his keen sense of humor and taste for excitement are more than a match for his disability.


a mango shaped space wendy mass List: young adult books about disability

A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Blurb (via Wikipedia): A Mango-Shaped Space (2003) is a novel by Wendy Mass. It is about Mia Winchell, a thirteen-year-old girl living with synesthesia. Her synesthesia causes her problems in school, with friends, and winning the understanding of her parents and peers.


The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd List: young adult books about disability

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

Blurb: When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the British Airways London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. But after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off but no Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? 'So Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.


trigger susan vauhgt List: young adult books about disability

Trigger by Susan Vaught

Blurb: Jersey Hatch seemed to have it all together he played sports, was popular, had a great girlfriend, best friend, and supportive parents. But when he emerges from a recuperative care center, all that is gone, his legs and hands dont work right, his mouth says every word that pops into his brain, and he has to write down his thoughts so that he remembers even the most basic directions and details. Through it all, one question haunts him: why did he try to kill himself?


izzy willy nilly List: young adult books about disability

Izzy, Willy-Nilly by Cynthia Voight

Blurb: Izzys never been one to complain. Izzys the nice girl, from a family that believes good manners and a stiff upper lip are key to facing any situation. Even after a car accident leaves her disabled, shes determined not to show how much shes hurting. It takes Rosamunde, a girl who seems to care nothing about good manners, to forcibly disrupt Izzys life and help her face her changed existence.


dark days of hamburger halpin List: young adult books about disability

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Blurb:'Being a hefty, deaf newcomer almost makes Will Halpin the least popular guy at Coaler High. But when he befriends the only guy less popular than him, the dork-namic duo has the smarts and guts to figure out who knocked off the star quarterback. Will cant hear whats going on, but hes a great observer. So, who did it? And why does that guy talk to his fingers? And will the beautiful girl ever notice him? (Okay, so Wills interested in more than just murder . . .) Those who prefer their heroes to be not-so-usual and with a side of wise guy will gobble up this witty, geeks-rule debut.


out of my mind sharon draper List: young adult books about disability

Out of My Mind'by Sharon M Draper

Blurb:'Eleven-year-old Melody has a photographic memory. Her head is like a video camera that is always recording. Always. And theres no delete button. Shes the smartest kid in her whole school'but no one knows it. Most peopleher teachers and doctors includeddont think shes capable of learning, and up until recently her school days consisted of listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons again and again and again. If only she could speak up, if only she could tell people what she thinks and knows . . . but she cant, because Melody cant talk. She cant walk. She cant write.'Being stuck inside her head is making Melody go out of her mindthat is, until she discovers something that will allow her to speak for the first time ever. At last Melody has a voice . . . but not everyone around her is ready to hear it.


  1. What a great list! I absolutely loved Blabbermouth as a kid and I read The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night just last year- loved this also.

    Im a blog subscriber and enjoy reading your posts! Happy reading :-)


    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for visiting, Jayne! I loved Blabbermouth, too, and I Can Jump Puddles has a special place in my heart, although I dont think I fully appreciated it when I first read it. I enjoyed Peeling the Onion and The Raging Quiet, too, and Im pretty sure that Flowers for Algernon was the first book that made me cry!

  2. This is a great list! Some other titles Id recommend are Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, Paper Doll by Elizabeth Feuer, Count Us In by Levitz and Kingsley, Big Guy by Robin Stevenson, See Ya Simon by David Hill, The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Trigger by Susan Vaught, Izzy Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voight, and A Mango Shaped Space by Wendy Mass. Personally, I had some problems with Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper, but some people might like it and its about disability.

    • Stephanie /

      Thanks for stopping by, Nora, and for your excellent suggestions. Ill add them to the list!

  3. This is a great list! As I was reading it, I thought about a YA book I recently read that touched upon the notion of bullying, though not as straight forward as some of the titles above. Its called Getting the Girl by Susan Juby and while its quite humorous, it touches upon the complextities of high school bullying and the power behind a group mentality. Check it out, you might like it! :)

    • Stephanie /

      Hi Genna, Not a problem! Ill add it to the bullying list, and will try to get my hands on a copy. :)

  4. Er, the above post was meant the for the bullying list! Sorry about that! :: Face palm ::

  5. Jo Thompson /

    I can highly recommend two wonderful books written by author Paul Collins.

    The Glasshouse has been selected as an IBBY Outstanding Book for young people with disabilities and Shortlisted for the 2011 Crichton Award. Based on the parable, people who live in glasshouses shouldnt throw stones, The Glasshouse, reminds us to be accepting of our differences and not judgemental. Review :

    The Slightly Skewed Life of Toby Chrysler by Paul Collins would also be a great addition to this list too.

    • Stephanie /

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks so much for your suggestions. These are both new to me, but Ill be sure to check them out. Thanks for stopping by!


  6. A fantastic list! I Can Jump Puddles has stayed with me for so long, its a really beautiful book. Thanks for all the other recommendations!

    • Stephanie /

      My pleasure, Yvann. I read that one back in primary school, and I still remember it!