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Children's book with disabled lead character

21 replies

gollyb · 09/01/2019 13:38

Hello All,

I'm looking to buy a couple of books as a birthday present to a friend's daughter. She's 8y and uses a wheelchair, so looking for something that girls of that age would usually read but with a disabled character preferably as the lead/hero ( no joy yet and i feel I might have to broaden my criteria)! Any suggestions would be great. Thanks

OP posts:
seanceinterrupted · 09/01/2019 14:04

I just bought deafo for the kids school library. Graphic novel and highly rated. Was for an older class library, but with a specific request from the teacher for books readable by those with lesser reading skills/interest

Ricekrispie22 · 09/01/2019 16:27
BlueChampagne · 10/01/2019 13:01


JooLoo · 12/01/2019 06:41

Not quite what you asked for but how about Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls? Lots of great and diverse women who have achieved a whole range of things. My 8 year old really enjoyed it and still talks about some of her favourites.

Mailfuckoff · 12/01/2019 06:44

Christmassaurs has a wheelchair user boy as the main character, it's by Tom fletcher. Katy as mentioned above is a retelling of what katy did which is a very old but good book about disability. It was also turned into a bbc show
Watching with interest as I have a wheelchair using son of 9

abbsisspartacus · 12/01/2019 06:45

Sounds like you found a gap in the market op

TinselTimes · 12/01/2019 07:33

The Percy Jackson series by Rick riordan features a lot of characters with adhd and dyslexia, obv not the same type of issue but shows how they deal with those challenges?

Maybe also look at autobiography of Frida kahlo, there are several aimed at children.

TinselTimes · 12/01/2019 07:35

Scope also has a list of books somewhere on their website.

TunaVersesAngelfish · 12/01/2019 07:37

Try The Wormholers by Jamila Gavin. It was published in 1996 so may be hard to get hold of. One of the central characters has cerebral palsy.

Loopytiles · 12/01/2019 07:41

The jacqueline wilson one is good.

Women who Changed the World is good, don’t think any of them were disabled though.

Would you be making these efforts for a friend or relative DC who wasn’t disabled? It seems a bit pointed, somehow, to reference her disability.

RainbowBriteRules · 12/01/2019 07:42

Mermaid by Carrie Burnell (from CBeebies) is nice but it may well be too young for her.

RainbowBriteRules · 12/01/2019 07:43

Cerrie not Carrie.

PristineCondition · 12/01/2019 07:51

Would you be making these efforts for a friend or relative DC who wasn’t disabled? It seems a bit pointed, somehow, to reference her disability.

Well out of the millions of children's books published 99.9% have non disabled leads or characters at all so you wouldn't have to would you?

It's nice for children to read and see people like them when your not considered media normal.
From books with strong female leads to non white leads we all search out books that represent us.

Loopytiles · 12/01/2019 07:56

Agree about the underrepresentation.

Yes, individuals and parents may well seek out books/films etc with people or characters like us / our DC. Or that show DC a wider range of people/characters than the dominant white, male, able bodied, neurotypical protagonist.

My issue is whether it’s helpful for family friends to this, referencing a DC’s disability, rather than just giving a gift she might like. I personally don’t think it is.

PristineCondition · 12/01/2019 07:59

But there is nothing in the Op to suggest that Op is just doing it or has been asked for some books that represent the child.

fanomoninon · 12/01/2019 08:08

This is quite a nice list, OP:

Freak the Mighty; Wonder and Percy Jackson came to mind immediately, as ones we've enjoyed, but I think they are all too old for her at the mo - and all boys...

Witchend · 12/01/2019 12:11

Would you be making these efforts for a friend or relative DC who wasn’t disabled? It seems a bit pointed, somehow, to reference her disability.

It's not pointed, really children like to find someone "like them". It helps with their self image, and it's also good for other children to see it presented as "normal".
Dd was always delighted to find a character in a book (or on TV-Cerrie Burnell is absolutely lovely btw) like her, and I know from her charity that other children feel the same way.

My dd is missing a hand and she often complains that disabled characters in books are either:

  1. Sidekick to show main character (or villain) has a sympathetic side (a bit like a pet dog sometimes is)
  2. Entirely about their disability. They never do anything without it commented that of course they can't do it "normally" and they only appear when they're moaning about their disability or off to a hospital appointment etc.
  3. A villain (Hook, Peter Pettigrew in her case) where the disability adds to the evilness.

What she wants is a book about someone missing a hand who gets on, has a normal life and just happens to be missing a hand. Enough references to know it, but not bashed over the head every other sentence.

OP: I wrote a set of books for dd myself. It's really hard to get the balance between wanting to remind the reader all the time that they did something a bit differently, and forgetting to mention it-dd even picked up a couple of points where I'd written "hands". Maybe you could try that if you can't find anything.
You can also get dolls individually made. I think they're called "Just like me" or similar. They're not cheap (and I think American) but you can order them missing a hand or with callipers etc.
gollyb · 12/01/2019 14:31

Hello All,

Thanks a lot for all you comments.

So… from the list I had including all your suggestions, decided on 4 with the help of my friend (the bday girl’s mum) - so fingers crossed she’s right! Smile. Thanks for all your great suggestions!

Just ordered these off of Amazon - 2 main stream books and 2 with disabled characters.

  1. Katy by Jacqueline Wilson – About a young girl dealing with disability caused by accident. Lots of good reviews

  2. Lulu and the wishing star by Pippa Fern – about a magical adventure a young girl in a wheelchair as the main lead - looks lovely.

  3. The Naughtiest Girl collection (3 books together) by Enid Blyton –My childhood favourite Smile I’ve gifted this previously and always been a big hit! Timeless!

  4. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls - Main stream very popular it seems. She too should like a few characters at least.

    Thanks everyone for all your kind suggestions! (and ..JooLoo and Ricekrispie you made the shortlist Grin )

    Will keep you posted on the reviews from the bday girl Smile
OP posts:
ScreamingValenta · 12/01/2019 14:35

A bit of a golden oldie, but a book I loved as a child was 'The Fair to Middling' by Arthur Calder Marshall. All the children in the story (and some of the adults) have a disability.

ddl1 · 19/01/2019 21:26

Possibly Hilary McKay's 'Saffy's Angel'. Although the girl who uses a wheelchair, Sarah, is not the central character, she is a very strong and interesting character. One of the central characters in Jacqueline Wilson's 'The Worry Website' is a wheelchair user. Another good book is Eileen Dunlop's 'A Flute in Mayferry Street'.

PopGoesTheWeaz · 23/01/2019 20:49

I think that is a really nice spread. Im sure she'll be thrilled.

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