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Books are beloved for their near magical ability to entrance readers and draw us into their vivid worlds. They are an exhilarating method of escapism, causing us to think, feel, and love alongside our favorite characters. Readers often discover stories and characters who resonate with their own lives and are able to draw strength and courage from their plights. Books are also a powerful vector for knowledge, understanding, and experience. Because of this, books about disability are invaluable: not only are they able to educate, but they also provide solace, comfort, and temporary escape during the tough times.
Here are eight beautiful books about people with a disability:
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Alice Howland is a happily married, successful Harvard professor when her memory first fails her. When she receives the heart wrenching diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's disease, she must find a way to live in the moment and enjoy the life that she loved. Written by an American neuroscientist, Still Alice is an emotional and raw account of life with Alzheimer's disease.
Don't Stop the Music by Robert Perske
Don’t Stop the Music is a beautiful display of the positive impact people with disabilities can have on their community. Robert Perske writes with warmth and empathy as he details the endearing adventure of two teens with cerebral palsy as they help bring down a criminal organisation.
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Talented athlete Jessica is told she will never run again after losing her leg in a horrific car accident. Her entire life has swiftly changed, and her friends no longer know how to treat her, often pretending as if she isn't even there for fear of saying the wrong thing. Equal parts confronting and inspiring, The Running Dream is a study of hope, perseverance, and putting yourself back together in the face of fear and change.
Thicker Than Water: Essays by Adult Siblings of People with Disabilities by Don Meyer
Thicker Than Water is a captivating collection of memoirs that explore the depth of familial love. The book features 39 essays written by the adult siblings of people with disabilities, recounting their personal experiences from childhood into adulthood. With a diverse list of authors from 20 to 70 years old, Thicker Than Water reflects not only the bond between siblings but also the changing societal landscape surrounding disability over the past seven decades.
Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
Laughing at My Nightmare is Shane Burcaw’s witty memoir of life with spinal muscular atrophy. As a 21-year-old, he faces both the challenges of the day-to-day grind and life with a disability with wit and determination. This autobiographical masterpiece is a wonderfully relatable read for teenage and adult audiences alike.
My Left Foot by Christy Brown
My Left Foot is Christy Brown's autobiographical account of growing up with severe cerebral palsy and a mother whose belief in him never faltered for a second. From a young age, Christy's only mode of interacting with the world was to move his left foot. He discovered he could hold a piece of chalk with his foot, and after noticing this, his mother taught him the alphabet and how to write with his foot. With her instruction and a combined pool of courage and strength, Christy grew to be an artist. He also published several books in his adulthood, including this inspiring tribute to his mother's dedication and kindness.
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algernon is a beloved science fiction classic centering on Charlie Gordon, a man with an intellectual disability on a quest to defy his fate and improve his own intelligence. Charlie soon discovers Algernon, a laboratory mouse who has undergone an experimental surgical procedure which heightens his intelligence, and elects to become the procedure's first human test subject. Flowers for Algernon provides a close examination of the morality and ethics society applies to their treatment of people with an intellectual disability.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the stunning autobiography of Jean-Dominique Bauby, an incredible man who developed Locked-in syndrome after lapsing into a coma in 1995. Although paralysed, Jean-Dominique was still very much cognitively aware and developed a method of communication by blinking in code, which he later used to dictate this memoir. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly details his extraordinary and often humourous story as well as his personal thoughts on disability and life.
Books are a powerful way to educate, experience, and escape. Readers often find empowerment and comfort in characters with whom they can relate. Stories and autobiographies featuring disability instill knowledge, inspiration, and strength in readers and are a great tool to educate the wider community about life with a disability.