Multi-character stories that include Disabled people
While the books in the previous section focus specifically on difference – including differences in ability – the four discussed below are primarily about other things. Used together, both types of books help to affirm that the varied ways in which we all experience the world are equally valid.
In the next section, we look at stories with Disabled protagonists leading the action – but books where they feature but do not stand out are equally important. They tell us that having a disability is one experience amongst many others and that it doesn’t need to be remarked upon or prevent us from joining in. Nobody wants to stand out all the time and it is just as important to feel comfortable in a diverse group as it is to find your tribe.
- Dinosaur Rap by John Foster and Debbie Harter
- Outdoor Opposites by Brenda Williams and Rachel Oldfield
- A Bear Hug at Bedtime by Jana Novotny Hunter and Kay Widdowson
- Best Friends, Busy Friends by Susan Rollings and Nichola Cowdery
Many schools use national or international celebrations such as History Months to talk about disability and other differences and this can be a powerful way of encouraging children to focus positively on minority identities and educating them about the importance of activism and community. However, not every conversation about disability should revolve around struggle or achievement and Disabled people shouldn’t only be talked about because of their disability. Disabled people are part of families, present in all schools and workplaces and take part in everything that everyone else enjoys or dislikes doing – including doing their homework or helping with the washing up! But how often do we see them doing those things in stories? A range of identities – be they related to disability, ethnicity, faith, gender, sexual orientation or anything else – need to be a part of all the stories we read.
The books discussed here include Disabled children participating in a range of activities. They affirm that having an impairment – or not – is just one of the many and changing aspects of all our lives and that most of us can do most things most of the time – even if sometimes we need a little help. There is no need to ‘notice’ the disabilities of the characters in these stories. If children point them out, just acknowledge them and move on.