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Books with positive images of disability: See the best of the year

A Kind of Spark

Here are 12 children's books that are useful for discussing disability and inclusive issues with young readers.

They are all brilliant reads that were our Bookmark Books of the Month throughout 2020.

  • Pablo and the Noisy Party

    Author: Andrew Brenner and Sumita Majumdar
    Publisher: Ladybird Books
    Interest age: 3-7

    Pablo finds the noise at his cousin's party overwhelming, but his imaginary friends are there to help him make sense of the situation. This empowering book and TV series competently reflect neurodiversity and has been developed by writers who are themselves on the autistic spectrum.

  • Rosa's Big Sunflower Experiment

    Author: Jessica Spanyol
    Publisher: Child's Play
    Interest age: 2-5

    Rosa and her friends are growing sunflowers. The industrious team of children fill pots with soil, tenderly plant seeds and then carefully label and position their plants. This is one of a series of books following Rosa and her friends as they undertake a range of simple but inspiring projects guaranteed to stimulate children’s interest in STEM subjects.

  • Talking is Not My Thing!

    Author: Rose Robbins
    Publisher: Scallywag Press
    Interest age: 3-7
    Reading age: 3-7

    With speech bubbles, bright colours and characters so lively they leap off the page, this is a vibrant and happy book with a lead character who is non-verbal.

  • Bear Shaped

    Author: Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden
    Publisher: Oxford University Press
    Interest age: 2-6

    This beautiful picture book is based on the true story of a family’s public search for a missing toy. The Jack of the illustrations are utterly convincing, a testimony to the fact that the illustrator worked so closely with the ‘real’ Jack (who happens to be on the autistic spectrum). Delicate, timeless artwork also cleverly incorporates all sorts of satisfy…

  • Thimble Wonga Bonkers

    Author: Jon Blake Illustrator: Martin Chatterton
    Publisher: Firefly
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 7+

    When Jams, Dad and Thimble the monkey are left alone for a week, with no money, things go swiftly and hilariously wrong.

  • The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley

    Author: Amber Lee Dodd
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 10+

    Noah Bradley has moved home too many times to count, but this time he actually likes his new school and he wants to stay. What he doesn't want is the 'uncool' neighbour he's been seen with to ruin his newfound popularity, or the bad omens, freak weather events, and the deadly family curse that's followed him from town to town...

  • I Am Not A Label

    Author: Cerrie Burnell
    Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    In this powerful and stylishly attractive non-fiction book, Cerrie Burnell introduces the reader to 34 disabled role models. 

  • Break the Mould

    Author: Sinéad Burke Illustrator: Natalie Byrne
    Publisher: Wren & Rook
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    How can children learn to embrace their own individuality and accept others’ differences? This attractive guide encourages a young person to explore such questions, offering gentle advice in a bright, empowering and thoroughly accessible way.

  • Things the Eye Can't See

    Author: Penny Joelson
    Publisher: Electric Monkey
    Interest age: 12-14
    Reading age: 12+

    When a former classmate gives 15 year old Libby a mysterious envelope, she finds herself drawn into a a very strange and potentially dangerous mystery.

  • Gracie Fairshaw and the Mysterious Guest

    Author: Susan Brownrigg
    Publisher: Uclan Publishing
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 9+

    Gracie and her family have just moved to Blackpool to live by the sea, but when Gracie's Ma mysteriously disappears, it's down to Gracie, her little brother, and her new friends to unravel the mystery of her past to try and find her.

  • A Kind of Spark

    Author: Elle McNicoll
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    When 11 year old Addie, who is autistic, learns about the 16th century women who were persecuted for witchcraft, she starts to lobby for a local memorial in her small Scottish village. With the help of a new girl at school, she fights valiantly against injustice and oppression.