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Reading List: Disability Fiction

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Included here are stories of kids and teens who deal with--and overcome--different forms of disability.

View this list in Destiny.

El Deafo / Cece Bell
Cece was 4 when a bout of meningitis left her profoundly deaf. With the help of a fancy hearing aid, she does well in school and has a few close friends. Cece has a special power at school: when her teacher wears the microphone, Cece can hear her anywhere in the building, whether she's gossiping with other teachers in the lounge or peeing in the bathroom. Cece is El Deafo!

Tangerine / Edward Bloor
Paul’s family has just moved to Tangerine, Florida, and it’s been a rough adjustment. He’s still nearly blind, his brother--a star high-school football player--still bullies him at every opportunity, lightning strikes at the same time every day, an underground fire has been burning for years, and then a sinkhole swallows the school. But with the help of his new soccer team, Paul finally starts to make sense of his new home--and some family secrets.

The War that Saved My Life / Bradley
As the threat of war looms over London, Ada's mother prepares to send her child to the country for safety. Jamie, Ada's brother. Ada can't go: her club foot means she can't walk, and she certainly can't be seen out of the house. Ada finds a way to sneak out anyway, and they're forced on an unmarried woman who never wanted children. slowly the all learn to trust and lean on each other, and figure out what family really is.

Al Capone Does my Shirts / Choldenko
Moose Flanagan and his family have just moved to Alcatraz Island, to be nearer to a special school for his autistic sister Natalie. Moose is coping as best he can under the weight of the move, his own new school, and having near-complete responsibility for his older sister while his dad works and his mom seeks a cure for Natalie’s condition. As he begins to settle in, Moose finds himself caught up in the mischief spearheaded by the warden’s daughter, Piper.

Out of My Mind / Draper
Melody has been locked inside her body her whole life--11 years unable to speak, and she has plenty to say. But cerebral palsy makes it difficult for her to communicate just how much she knows and understands. Her family knows there's a spark in her, and they've put together a rudimentary communication board for her, but it can't give her the range of language she wants. The discovery of the Medi-Talker unlocks her whole world: suddenly Melody can talk, can tell her family she loves them, can tease her mobility aide, can ace the tryout for the school quiz team. But being able to communicate doesn't automatically make the other students accept her.

Mockingbird / Katherine Erskine
Caitlin is having a hard time: her brother, the person who understood Caitlin better than anyone, died recently, and her Asperger's makes it difficult for her to empathize with her dad (or anyone else). The school counselor is eager for Caitlin to stretch herself and Make Friends; Caitlin mostly doesn't care and just wants to find Closure for herself and her dad. She's learning, and grieving, and helping others more than she realizes.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key / Gantos
Joey desperately wants to be a good kid, but he can’t keep himself under control. He feels wired all the time. He’s impulsive, he yells out, he runs around--and he doesn’t want to do any of it. Joey struggles with severe ADHD (and meds that don’t work that well for him), but gets little to no support at home from his alcoholic mom or abusive grandmother--and certainly none from his absent dad. Is there any hope for Joey to become the good, attentive kid he wants to be--or is he doomed to be wired forever?

Fish in a Tree / Hunt
Ally is smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  However, her newest teacher sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally begins to understand her dyslexia and learn how to read in spite of it. “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
(Adapted from the book)

A Dog Called Homeless / Lean
Cally is still reeling from her mother's death a year ago when her dad drops another bomb on her: they're moving, out of the house that still holds her mother's spirit and into a blank, new apartment. A Sponsored Silence charity event at school gives Cally a reason to start talking, and when the event ends, Cally continues her silence. In her mutism, she befriends the deaf-blind boy downstairs, and with his help and support, finds her voice again--and a reason to use it.

Rules / Lord
Wouldn't life be great if everybody acted according to the same rules? Catherine sure thinks so, and she's written up rules for her brother to follow. No toys in the fishtank. Always knock on the bathroom door. Because David has autism, and he needs to hear these rules over and over. Catherine just wants him to act normal around other people, particularly around the new girl who moved in next door (and has definite friend-potential) and around the kid who makes fun of David all the time. But the new girl next door might not be worth a friendship, and the boy she never looked twice at might turn out to be more interesting than she suspected--because real life doesn't always follow the Rules.

A Corner of the Universe / Ann M. Martin
Hattie's Uncle Adam--21-year-old man with a child's mind--is coming home from his Chicago school that's just closed. Hattie and Adam wind up spending precious time together, which makes her feel soulfully connected to her uncle, especially when he declares that she's "one of the people who can lift the corners of our universe." But when Hattie takes Adam on the carnival’s ferris wheel one night, it sets off dramatic events that change her life's outlook forever. (Adapted from the book)

Wonder / RJ Palacio
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? (from the book)

Freak the Mighty / Rodman Philbrik
“I never had a brain until Freak came along and let me borrow his for a while, and that’s the truth, the whole truth.” Two boys – a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces – forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force. (From the book)

Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman
Shawn's favorite food is the barbecue potato chips his brother sneaks to him. His sister taught him how to read. And his dad wants to kill him. Shawn doesn't want to die, but he doesn't take it personally--his father is only thinking about it out of love, because Shawn’s cerebral palsy means can't communicate at all and has no way to tell anyone that he's not suffering.

The Running Dream / Wendelin Van Draanan
Jessica is on her way home from a track meet (at which she ran her best race ever) when the team bus is hit by a truck hauling cars to junkyard. In the accident, one of her teammates is killed, and Jessica loses her right leg below the knee. She's devastated by the loss--without her leg, she'll never run again, never feel the cool air on her face as she races into the wind. Her teammates have different ideas, though: they start fund-raising for the "Help Jessica Run" campaign, hoping to earn enough money to buy her a running prosthesis.

So B. It / Sarah Weeks
Although she lives an unconventional lifestyle with her mentally disabled mother and their doting neighbour, Bernadette, Heidi has a lucky streak that has a way of pointing her in the right direction. When a mysterious word in her mother′s vocabulary begins to haunt her, Heidi′s thirst for the truth leads her on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past. (From the book)