Includas Book Party: Readers' favorite books with disability representation
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Favorite Books with Disability Representation

For INCLUDAS’s end of this year’s book party, we asked readers for their favorite books with disability representation. Here’s the list we’ve compiled!

This is not a sponsored post nor are we endorsing any of the books or authors. Please use your own judgement when considering reading a particular book for yourself.

Magonia book cover.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley (2015) — A favorite for GiannaMarie Dobson, Host of Something Old, Something Debut podcast
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Disability representation: Terminal respiratory illness, anxiety, and neurodivergence

Aza Ray struggles to breathe every day on planet Earth; it isn’t until she’s found by Magonia, a world above the clouds, that she finds herself both healed and newly powerful. However, when she learns that Magonia and Earth plan to go to war against one another, she must choose a side. A story with excellent depictions of friendships and romances, Magonia manages realistic depictions of disabilities in engagingly fantastical ways.

https://www.goodreads.com/booellen outside the lines book cover.

Ellen Outside the Lines by A. J. Sass (2022)  — A favorite for Alaina Lavoie, Program Manager for We Need Diverse Books
Genre: Middle grade LGBTQ+ contemporary
Disability Representation: Neurodivergent protagonist

Ellen feels most comfortable when everything is planned out and put neatly into categories, like knowing that she only likes girls and has one amazing best friend. But when things start becoming more unpredictable, and she meets a new nonbinary classmate that questions her binary way of thinking, Ellen has a lot to reevaluate about herself and the people around her. This novel dives into the complexity of handling change as someone who is neurodivergent and normalizes the frustrations that go with coming of age.

The Chance to Fly book cover.

The Chance to Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz (2021) — A favorite for Melissa See, Marketing Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Middle grade contemporary
Disability Representation: Wheelchair user protagonist

Nat, a wheelchair user, has always been a huge fan of musical theater. Her life-long dream is to be on Broadway, and she yearns to overcome her stage fright in order to fully become the star she’s meant to be. She gets the opportunity to be in a community theater production of Wicked, but when tragedy strikes, Nat and the rest of her castmates must work to save their show. The Chance to Fly is a love letter to disability, musical theater, and being accepted for who you are.

Some Kind of Happiness book cover.

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (2016) — A favorite for Sadie Hutchings, Design & Illustration Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Middle-grade fantasy
Disability representation: Depression, anxiety

Finley Hart, a young girl with depression and anxiety, learns to navigate her own emotions and health by embarking on a journey to save The Everwood, a magical, make-believe world. This middle-grade novel does an excellent job of approaching the topic of mental health in a way that is understandable to young readers.

Hurt Go Happy book cover.

Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby (2006) — A favorite for Catherine Valdez, Acquisition Editor at INCLUDAS
Genre: Middle grade contemporary
Disability Representation: Deafness

The book follows fourteen-year-old Joey, a deaf girl who relies on lip-reading to get by. Despite having an interest in sign language, her mother is afraid of Joey standing out in the wrong ways and forbids her from learning. But she meets her elderly neighbor Charlie, a child of deaf parents, and his pet chimpanzee who knows sign language. Joey becomes more encouraged to advocate for herself as she grows closer with the language that acts as her voice.

This is Not a Love Scene book cover.

This is Not a Love Scene by S. C. Megale (2019) — A favorite for Madison Parotta, Senior Editor at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Disability representation: Muscular dystrophy

Maeve is a girl with muscular dystrophy who has struggled to find love all throughout high school. But her love for filmmaking leads her to an exciting senior project starring a cute older boy named Cole. The novel explores sexuality and passion, openly defying stereotypes about disabled people not being romantically or sexually involved. It’s incredibly hard to find in books with disabled characters, so it’s a very refreshing take amongst all of the generalizations about disabled people.

Say What You Will book cover.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern (2014) — A favorite for Joanna Buoniconti, Editorial Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Disability representation: Cerebral palsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy has more challenges than cares to count. She can’t walk without a walker, talk clearly without typing words into her communication device, or fully control her facial expressions. While she hasn’t exactly lived a life of seclusion, she yearns to feel what it’s like to be included, and to have friends her own age. Matthew signs up to be one of Amy’s student aides, hoping it will help him get out of his own head, which is taken over by his obsessive-compulsive disorder. The two of them develop a friendship that becomes something more, as their connection helps them navigate their insecurities and the beginning chapters of adulthood. This novel does an excellent job of illustrating disabled characters in romantic relationships while accurately depicting how someone with a physical disability lives.

Eliza and Her Monsters book cover.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (2017) — A favorite for Nicole Thomas, Social Media Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Disability Representation: Anxiety

Eliza is the anonymous creator of a famous webcomic series, but her intense anxiety makes her more comfortable online than in-person. She meets a boy named Wallace, who she almost exclusively speaks with through texts and written notes. He doesn’t push her to go too far outside her comfort zone, but still allows her to experience things she thought she couldn’t do because of her anxiety. Eliza is able to embrace that anxiety is a part of who she is, not something she has to overcome entirely.

Sick Kids in Love book cover.

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz (2019) — A favorite for Kaley (@chronicallybookish on TikTok and Instagram), Bookstagram and Booktok creator
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Disability Representation: Chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis and Gaucher disease)

Two chronically ill teens fall in love, despite the main character, Isabel, telling herself that it’s easier and safer for the other person if she doesn’t date anyone she’s interested in. But since Sasha also has a chronic illness and understands what it’s like to be sick, she considers breaking her “no dating” rule for him, despite all of the risks. Isabel deals with imposter syndrome, the concept of not feeling “as sick” as someone else, not wanting to ask for help, and ableism from the people she loves, even if it’s unintentional — all issues that make the disability representation in this book even more meaningful.

Prairie Fire book cover.

Prairie Fire by E. K. Johnston (2015) — A favorite for GiannaMarie Dobson, Host of Something Old, Something Debut podcast
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Disability representation: Permanent physical injuries

The second book in The Story of Owen series, Prairie Fire follows Siobhan, who enters military service alongside her dragon-slaying friend Owen. After losing the use of her hands in a “semi-heroic beginning,” Siobhan struggles to resume her life’s career as a bard. With the help of friends new and old, she begins learning how to adapt to her post-injury body, relying on others to help her express herself through song.

The Bone Houses book cover.

The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones (2019) — A favorite for Melissa See, Marketing Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult horror fantasy
Disability Representation: Character with chronic pain

A gravedigger named Ryn, whose weapon of choice is an ax, and a mapmaker named Ellis traverse across the country to uncover the mystery behind creatures similar to anthropomorphized skeletons, referred to as the bone houses. Ellis has chronic pain, which is never shied away from and is a fully-realized part of who he is.

The Tea Dragon Society book cover.

The Tea Dragon Society by K. O’Neill (2017)  — A favorite for Sadie Hutchings, Design & Illustration Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Middle grade LGBTQ+ fantasy graphic novel
Disability representation: Wheelchair user

The Tea Dragon Society follows a blacksmith apprentice who is fascinated by tea dragons. After finding a lost one, she goes to two tea shop owners to learn about caring for tea dragons with the help of their ward. The art has a lovely style, and K. O’Neill’s inclusion of a wheelchair user named Erik, one of the tea shop owners, is great representation: his love story with Hesekiel, the other tea shop owner, is very sweet, showing readers a disabled character in a happy, long-term relationship.

Always Human book cover.

Always Human by Ari North (2020) — A favorite for Catherine Valdez, Acquisition Editor at INCLUDAS
Genre: Science fiction LGBTQ+ graphic novel
Disability Representation: Egan’s syndrome (fictional)

Set in the far future, the world of this novel allows humans to use modifications, or “mods,” to alter their physical appearance, heal illnesses, aid in studying and work assignments, and assist with anything at all. But mods don’t work on everyone, and people with specific kinds of immune systems are considered to have a disability called “Egan’s Syndrome.” Sunati has mods, and Austen doesn’t, but they fall into a relationship despite their differences. There are many candid conversations about disability, boundaries, and existing in non-accommodating societies. The unintentional ableist and condescending tone from friends and family are also brought up a lot for Austen. While Egan’s syndrome isn’t real, the way people with Egan’s syndrome are treated translates to how disabled people are treated in our world.

Sincerely, Harriet book cover.

Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah Winifred Searle (2019) — A favorite for Madison Parrotta, Senior Editor at INCLUDAS
Genre: Middle grade contemporary graphic novel
Disability representation: Chronic illness

Set in the nineties in Chicago, Sincerely, Harriet follows a girl who does not have a lot of freedom during the summer due to her chronic illness. She finds ways to use her time to the best of her abilities through her active imagination and growing love for reading and writing in her journal. She ends up coming across a mystery potentially involving ghosts, making her boring summer suddenly a lot more exciting. This story is great because while it includes representation for people with chronic illness, Harriet’s diagnosis is not mentioned too often and is not the center of the narrative.

Everything, Everything book cover.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2017) — A favorite for Joanna Buoniconti, Editorial Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult contemporary romance
Disability representation: Chronic illness, immunodeficiency

Maddy has never been outside, because she is allergic to everything found in the outside world. The only people in her life are her mother and her nurse. But once she starts communicating with Olly, the boy that just moved in next door, she has never wanted to be outside more. The way the story addresses Maddy’s struggle with wanting to escape her disability is done well and is relatable to those who have a chronic illness or any other disability — especially ones who can feel trapped within their own body.

Off the Record book cover.

Off the Record by Camryn Garrett (2021) — A favorite for Nicole Thomas, Social Media Intern at INCLUDAS
Genre: Young adult LGBTQ+ contemporary romance
Disability Representation: Anxiety

Josie, a teen journalist, wants to write a profile on an up-and-coming young actor; However, through her research, she discovers the stories of many women who were harassed and assaulted by a famous movie director. Josie has severe anxiety, which leads her to overthink and have spiraling thoughts, experiencing nerves that make her sick to her stomach before her interviews. But despite all of these side effects, Josie still pursues what she loves and doesn’t let her anxiety hold her back. This counters the idea that anxiety comes from things you don’t like to do and proves that sometimes, it is truly out of your control.

List of Ten book cover.

List of Ten by Halli Gomez (2021) — A favorite for Daniel Aleman, Author of Indivisible
Genre: Young adult contemporary
Disability representation: Tourette Syndrome and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Troy struggles through daily life with both Tourette’s and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, with the number ten dictating the way he operates. However, just as he makes a plan to commit suicide on the tenth anniversary of his diagnosis, he meets Khory, a classmate whose own life slowly begins to inspire him. While List of Ten is harrowing and dark, it’s also impactful, authentic, and hopeful.

A Kind of Spark book cover.

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (2020) — A favorite for GiannaMarie Dobson, Host of Something Old, Something Debut podcast
Genre: Middle grade contemporary
Disability representation: Autism

Winner of the Waterstones award, this middle-grade contemporary novel follows an autistic girl named Addie, who lives in a small town in Scotland. With the help of her older sister, who is also autistic, Addie takes up a campaign to get her town to honor the women who it once killed for presumed witchcraft. An excellent examination of the legacies of harm, and how choices can be made to improve, A Kind of Spark features engaging prose and excellent representation of life as an autistic person.

Not every book on this list will tell a story that speaks to each and every reader with a certain disability. However, as long as any story is able to provide an engaging, accurate, or educational perspective of life with disabilities to a member of its audience, we believe that it was a story worth telling.

Let us know in the comments or on social media what some of your favorite book with disability representation are!

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