children's books about disabilities

Kids often don’t understand what makes people with disabilities so different from them and, because of their ignorance, they are sometimes insensitive to those they perceive as ‘different’. One of the best ways to teach them to be sensitive is to educate them about disabilities and what better way to do that than to read children’s books about disabilities. These children’s books will help your children not only understand the various disabilities that affect people but also teach them to be empathetic, sensitive and kind.

Note: This list is aimed at children between the ages of 4 and 8.


We’re All Wonders

R.J. Palacio (Author & Illustrator)

Auggie Pullman has fun like any other kid – he rides his bike, he plays ball, and he takes his dog for walks. In spite of this, the other kids make fun of him as he has only one eye. Saddened by this continuous mockery, he makes up an imaginary world where he visits the planet Pluto, and when his gaze falls upon Earth, he wonders why everyone rags him on account of his facial disfigurement when we are each different in our own way. R. J. Palacio’s newest book in the Wonder series, We’re All Wonders teaches children that just because someone looks different, that is not a reason to bully them.

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Catch That Cat!

Tharini Vishwanath & Nancy Raj (Illus.)

Meemo and Dip-Dip are best friends, so when Meemo’s cat gets lost, she obviously asks Dip-Dip to help out. Dip-Dip agrees and even the fact that she’s bound to a wheelchair does not dampen her enthusiasm. Eventually, when she finds the cat atop a tree branch, she bravely hauls herself up the tree in order to give the scared cat company. With Tharini Vishwanath’s simplistic yet evocative story, along with Nancy Raj’s colourful illustrations, Catch That Cat teaches children that kids with disabilities can do whatever they set their mind on, and while we should be mindful of their condition, we should not judge them by their disability alone.

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Kanna Panna

Zai Whitaker & Niloufer Wadia (Illus.)

Visually impaired kids often find it difficult to navigate social situations, and Kanna is no different. Being blind greatly undermines his confidence, making it difficult for him to vocalise his thoughts. During a trip with his aunt to a cave temple, the lights go off and everyone starts panicking over how to get out. While everyone else is frightened, Kanna remains unfazed as he’s used to the darkness. He understands that he can help get the others out of the cave and this optimism helps him lead everyone to safety. This newfound confidence also helps him come out of his shell. Kanna’s heroics in Kanna Panna will certainly encourage kids to see that blindness does not hinder a kid’s ability to lead a normal life.

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Manya Learns To Roar

Shruthi Rao & Priya Kuriyan (Illus.)

Manya’s favourite film is The Jungle Book, and she wants to play Shere Khan in the school play and even knows all the lines. The only problem? She stammers. Her classmates make fun of her stammer, and even her teachers are reluctant to give her the role, resulting in her anxiety and stammer getting worse. Shruthi Rao’s Manya Learns To Roar is about how one girl doesn’t let stammering become a hindrance to achieving her dreams, and how she overcomes it. Full of humour and delightful illustrations, this book will teach kids that making fun of someone’s stammer is mean and that they should always help such kids out instead of ostracising them.

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Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand?

Sheila Dhir (Author & Illustrator)

Most people and kids have no idea how to interact with kids who have cerebral palsy. Written from the point-of-view of a child with cerebral palsy, Why Are You Afraid To Hold My Hand is an excellent book to help your child understand cerebral palsy and what it really is. This book will also help bust the myths surrounding cerebral palsy and teach children how to sensitively interact with those with this disorder.

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Wings To Fly

Sowmya Rajendran & Arun Kaushik (Illus.)

Young Malathi Holla wants to run around and play, but as she is confined to a wheelchair, her options remain limited. Yet, this does not stop her from participating in races and eventually becoming an international para-athlete. Based on the real-life story of Malathi Holla, who went on to win several medals, Wings To Fly is a story of bravery and hope, and how disability is not the cornerstone of a person’s identity.

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The Princess And The Fog

Lloyd Jones (Author & Illustrator)

In a faraway kingdom, a princess was as happy as she could be, but then came the fog. The fog came slowly and while no one noticed it, it enveloped the princess and made her sad. With metaphors and creative illustrations, Lloyd Jones’ The Princess And The Fog is one of the few children’s books that discusses an important topic like depression. Through this book, parents can not only teach children how to cope with their own difficult feelings but also explain what depression is so children can understand it.

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Vibhuti Cat

Shikhandin &  Shubham Lakhera (Illus.)

Magesh is a fun-loving boy, and his favourite pastime is playing with his brother and his cat, Vibhuti. Most likely on the autism spectrum, he has trouble communicating and interacting with other people and we learn how he expresses himself. However, now that he’s off to school, he has to adapt to a new situation and learn to talk to strangers. Vibhuti Cat is about a child on the spectrum, what his life is like and how his family copes with it.   

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here