Picture Books for Disability Pride Month

Disability Pride Flag. Green, blue, white, yellow, and red diagonal stripes on a muted black background.

By Bailey Keimig-Gehrke

July is Disability Pride Month. Spend some time this summer to broaden the perspectives of the young readers in your life with stories about people with disabilities. The following picture books are a great place to start.

“Just Ask!” (Philomel Books, 2019) by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael Lopez

Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful. United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor uses her own experience as a child diagnosed with diabetes to write about children with all sorts of challenges and different abilities.

As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same. When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is ask .

“Mommy Sayang” (Disney Press, 2019) written and illustrated by Rosana Sullivan

Aleeya loves her playful, peaceful daily routines with Mommy sayang (a Malay word meaning “dear”). When they are together, even their chores seem fun. Whether they are resting, enjoying meals with other loved ones, or sharing bedtime stories, Aleeya and her mother are inseparable. One day, though, Aleeya’s mother becomes too ill to play with her. For many, disability shows itself as chronic illness and exhaustion. This is the case for Aleeya’s mother. The story is based on the author’s childhood of growing up in a small Malaysian village and the loneliness she felt when her mother became ill and could no longer play with her.

“Hello Goodbye Dog” (Roaring Brook Press, 2017) by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton

Zara and her dog, Moose, are best friends. That means Moose always wants to be by Zara’s side. But Moose keeps escaping from home to find Zara at school, and it takes more and more people to help get him back home. Finally, Zara has a wonderful idea! Moose goes to therapy dog training and gets official permission to stay with Zara during the school day. This story is a great way to normalize the fact that people have many ways of transporting themselves. As well as a chance to discuss the important work of therapy dogs.

“My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay” (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2015) by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

Zulay is blind, but that does not stop her from enjoying first grade with her three best friends. Together they learn math, practice writing, and try to decide which activity to participate in during the upcoming field day. Energetic and adventurous Zulay decides she wants to run the big race in her new pink running shoes. Not everybody thinks Zulay can do it, but her teachers are very supportive. Ms. Turner helps Zulay practice using a special cane that will help her to walk—and run—more independently. Even though Zulay doesn’t want to stick out by using her cane, and even though learning to use her cane is hard work, she keeps practicing until the day of the race. Zulay’s persistence, energy, and determination shine through every page to inspire readers.

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