Picture Books About Children with Different Abilities

“When I see you through my eyes, I think that we are different. When I see you through my heart, I know we are the same”.

Doe Zantamanta

It is so important to teach our students to see with their heart. Reading books with characters who have different abilities helps our students to do this. It helps them to build empathy and respect. It gives the chance to look beyond a person’s disability and see who they are inside. And it also allows children who have a disability to see themselves reflected in the book.

This book list features 16 picture books with children who have different abilities. This includes children with autism and Down’s Syndrome and children who are in a wheelchair, are dyslexic or have a learning disability of some kind.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I receive a small commission if you decide to make a purchase through one of my links, at no cost to you. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

47 Strings : Tessa’s Special Code by Becky Carey

A children’s picture book about the remarkable lessons to be learned from a little girl named Tessa, who was born with Down syndrome. This book describes, in easy-to-understand language and with sensitivity, some of the challenges baby Tessa’s special ‘code’ might bring — while never losing focus on the message that a family’s love is the same for everyone.

All My Stripes: a Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph

Zane rushes home to tell his mother about problems he faced during his school day, and she reminds him that while others may only see his “autism stripe,” he has stripes for honesty, caring, and much more.

The Alphabet War : a Story about Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb

Learning to read is a great struggle for Adam, but with expert help, hard work, and belief in himself, he wins “The Alphabet War.” Includes information about dyslexia.

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

Describes how a teacher named Miss Chew encouraged individuality, and accepted learning differences, and helped a young student with academic difficulties get extra time to take tests and permission to be in advanced art classes. Inspired by the author’s memories of her art teacher.

Emmanuel’s Dream : the True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson

The story of a West African youth who pursued an education, helped support his family and became a record-setting cyclist in spite of a disability traces his ongoing achievements as an activist.

A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey

Henry would like to find a friend at school, but for a boy on the autism spectrum, making friends can be difficult, as his efforts are sometimes misinterpreted, or things just go wrong–but Henry keeps trying, and in the end he finds a friend he can play with.

Giant Tess by Dan Yaccarino

Being the only giant around, Tess wants more than anything to be like everyone else, but when she and Smokey, her dragon best friend, use their height to help save the big parade, Tess suddenly realizes that she is just the right size.

The girl who thought in pictures : the story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

A brief rhyming account of the childhood and work of Temple Grandin, an animal scientist who lives with high-functioning autism.

Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari

Moose loves helping his girl, Zara, and Zara loves having her dog Moose help her. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed at school, and Moose’s escape acts from his house, his crate, and the backyard aren’t helping his cause. How can Zara get her lovable pooch a free pass to the classroom?

How to build a hug : Temple Grandin and her amazing squeeze machine by Amy Guglielmo

As a young girl, Temple Grandin loved folding paper kites, making obstacle courses, and building lean-tos. But she really didn’t like hugs. Temple wanted to be held–but to her, hugs felt like being stuffed inside the scratchiest sock in the world; like a tidal wave of dentist drills, sandpaper, and awful cologne, coming at her all at once. Would she ever get to enjoy the comfort of a hug? Then one day, Temple had an idea. If she couldn’t receive a hug, she would make one…she would build a hug machine!

Just ask! –be different, be brave, be you by Sonia Sotomayor

This book is about 12 friends who have different abilities from diabetes, Down Syndrome, autism, blindness, tourette’s syndrome and deafness. It shows how each of these children can work together and use their different abilities to create something wonderful.

My whirling, twirling motor by Merriam Sarcia Saunders

A young boy with ADHD feels like he is constantly driven by a ‘motor.’ He is constantly getting in trouble, even when he is not trying to be naughty. But his mom helps him focus on the things he does right each day.

The pirate of kindergarten by George Ella Lyon

Ginny’s eyes play tricks on her, making her see everything double, but when she goes to vision screening at school and discovers that not everyone sees this way, she learns that her double vision can be cured.

Uniquely wired : a book about autism and its gifts by Julia Cook

Zak has autism, so he sometimes responds to the world around him in unconventional ways. As he describes his point of view, young readers gain a better understanding of his behaviors and learn valuable lessons about patience, tolerance, and understanding.

We’re All Wonders by R. J. Palacio

Augie enjoys the company of his dog, Daisy, and using his imagination, but painfully endures the taunts of his peers because of his facial deformity.

Where Oliver Fits by Cale Atkinson

Oliver is a little puzzle piece who is excited to find out where he fits. Will he be… in the mane of a unicorn? On the tentacle of a pirate squid? Part of a beautiful sunset or a fiery volcano? A member of a monster rock band? But when he goes in search of his perfect place, Oliver discovers that finding where he belongs is harder than he thought.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *