The best books about disability


It’s World Book Day – 24 hours dedicated to the magic of the written word. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite books featuring characters with disabilities.

Got a favourite we haven’t included? Let us know over on Twitter, or in the comments below.

To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee

This is a tale of racism and prejudice – and while the kids in this novel are horrified by the way Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape, is treated by their community, they treat their neighbour, Boo Radley, a man with a learning disability, in a very similar way. This is a good one for exploring attitudes towards disability.


The Story of Beautiful Girl – Rachel Simon

Lynnie has a learning disability, and Homan is deaf – and they’re in love. It’s small-town America in 1968, and the pair are on the run from the institution where they live. This is a beautiful, heart breaking tale that highlights how much attitudes have chamged – and how far we’ve still to come.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

Christopher is 15 and he has autism. When his neighbour’s dog is killed, he comes under suspicion – but quickly goes on a mission to solve the mystery humself. Written entirely from Christopher’s perspective, The Curious Incident gives a unique perspective on autism – and it’s packed with humour and moving moments.


Deenie – Judy Blume

Teen lit queen Judy Bloom tackles disability in her 1973 novel Deenie. The 13-year-old is determined to become a model – but when she’s diagnosed with scoliosis and prescribed to wear a back brace for four years, all of that changes. This is a good read for young teens.


Still Alice – Lisa Genova

The book that inspired the hit movie, Still Alice is a moving account of a woman’s journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Alice is 50, and a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard University – and the disease wants to rob her of everything. This is a story brimming with fight, love and sadness.


The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Another one for teens, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars has sold millions of copies worldwide. The tale of two teens diagnosed with cancer who fall in love, it’s a weepie – but tackles issues like difference, disability and hope with style.


Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Maud is on a mission to find her friend Elizabeth – but no one is going to take her seriously. Why? Because Maud has dementia. Written entirely from her perspective, this is a dark, pacey debut from Emma Healey that’ll have you gripped.

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