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

Not If I Can Help It

Here are ten children's books that are useful for discussing disability and inclusive issues with young readers, which we highlighted in our Bookmark section in 2022.

  • Frankie’s World

    Author: Aoife Dooley
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    This lovely, often funny, relatable and sensitive story about Frankie, a girl with autism, was inspired by the author Aoife Dooley’s own real life experiences. A great story about growing up and learning who you are.

  • What Makes Me Do The Things I Do?

    Author: Molly Potter Illustrator: Sarah Jennings
    Publisher: Featherstone
    Interest age: 6-8
    Reading age: 4-5

    This colourful picture book cleverly addresses many of the everyday temptations we all face, exploring a different theme on each spread.  It reminds children (and adults!) to see how there are always options and to consider that there can be some very real benefits to trying to make more positive choices. 

  • When I See Blue

    Author: Lily Bailey
    Publisher: Hachette
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9+

    This is a touching and honest book about life in the grip of OCD but also the power of friendship. It’s also a reminder that good friendships are two-way as it turns out April needs Ben just as much as he needs her. 

  • All the Pieces of Me

    Author: Rebecca Westcott and Libby Scott
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 9-11
    Reading age: 9-11

    For 14 year old Tally, starting Year 9 is not proving easy.  Attempting to maintain friendships is exhausting, understanding teachers’ expectations is challenging and making sense of all the spoken and unspoken rules of school life is quite simply a nightmare. Plus, being on the autistic spectrum, she finds the combination of shouting, canteen smel…

  • I Talk Like a River

    Author: Jordan Scott Illustrator: Sydney Smith
    Publisher: Neal Porter Books
    Interest age: 7-8
    Reading age: 4-6

    An unforgettable picture book about the power of nature, embracing differences and accepting ourselves.

  • Call Me Lion

    Author: Camilla Chester
    Publisher: Firefly Press
    Interest age: 9-11

    It’s Luton, it’s the holidays and there is a heatwave. Low on friends, ten year old Leo is passing the long, lonely summer practising the thing he loves most – dancing. Then he meets his new next-door neighbour – confident and chatty, Richa is everything he isn’t but the two instantly become friends.

  • Major and Mynah

    Author: Karen Owen
    Publisher: Firefly Press
    Interest age: 6-8

    When random items are being stolen from around the neighbourhood, nine year-old Callie and her best friend Grace set out to catch the thief. The arrival of a stray bird on the scene adds an extra tier of mystery and magic, acquiring Callie’s family a new pet and her detective team a rather unusual sidekick.

  • Read Between the Lies

    Author: Malcolm Duffy
    Publisher: Zephyr Books
    Interest age: 12-16
    Reading age: 12+

    With chapters alternately narrated by stepbrothers Ryan and Tommy, this is a clever and absorbing book that builds slowly and works on so many levels: exploring blended families, dyslexia and family secrets. Readers will be surprised by more than one satisfying twist.

  • Like a Charm

    Author: Elle McNicoll
    Publisher: Knights Of
    Interest age: 9-12
    Reading age: 10+

    Readers of all ages will fall in love with this neurodivergent, beret-rocking protagonist. Thankfully, the promise of a sequel suggests that they can be reunited with her soon. 

  • My Mummy is Autistic

    Author: Heath Grace and Joanna Grace
    Publisher: Speechmark Publishing
    Interest age: 6-12

    Five-year-old Heath explains in his own (very young but very wise) words what he has learnt about his mum’s experience of autism. A fascinating celebration (and explanation) of differences, particularly around language processing differences.

  • The Visible Sounds

    Author: Yin Jianling Illustrator: Yu Rong Translator: Filip Selucky
    Publisher: UCLan Publishing
    Interest age: 4-8

    A two-year-old girl loses her hearing as a result of illness. At first, little MiLi feels frustrated, tearful and cross. Then one day she realises that "sound" is not just something you hear – it can be touched, seen and felt within the body. A thought-provoking and multi-faceted depiction of deafness. 

  • Not If I Can Help It

    Author: Carolyn Mackler
    Publisher: Scholastic
    Interest age: 8-12

    There are certain things you cannot tell anyone, even your closest friends. At least that is the way 11-year-old Willa feels about the fact that she lives with a sensory processing disorder. An accessible, well-paced and engaging coming-of-age story with a casually inclusive cast and a perfectly loveable and perfectly flawed young protagonist.