Stories with Disabled protagonist
It is important that children see Disabled characters in all areas of literature and not just confined to particular genres or narratives. Similarly, they should sometimes feature as part of the action but also get to star as protagonists in their own stories. Although children’s books are becoming more inclusive, it is still common to see such characters in the context of overcoming bullying or succeeding ‘despite’ their impairments – and this, while it may generate sympathy, is not necessarily helpful in promoting genuine inclusion. We don’t want Disabled children to feel that they are more likely to experience bullying or that they have to be better than everyone else – and we don’t want others to see them that way either.
- Quiet! by Kate Alizadeh
- Amazing by Steve Antony
- Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins
- Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh
In this section, we focus on books that feature lead characters who are disabled. You will notice that, with one notable exception, the stories are still not ‘about’ their disabilities per se and neither are these explicitly mentioned in the text. Just as in life, the protagonists’ identities may be apparent (Amazing) or less obvious (Me and My Sister) – and some may want to talk about them (Isaac And His Amazing Asperger Powers!). While their disabilities may affect how they interact with the world (Quiet!), they do not limit their participation in it. Crucially, these characters are not primarily defined by their impairments but by their interests and aspirations.