Kymberly Martin

Award winning books for children and young people with disability

Books about the experiences of children and young people with disability have won awards in the US. Administered by the American Library Association the Schneider Family Book Awards  honour authors and illustrators of books that embody an artistic expression of the experiences of children and young people with disability.


The winners are:

Young children (aged up to eight)

  • Just Ask! Be Different, be Brave, be You by US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. A number-one New York Times bestseller, this is a book about the differences that make each of us unique.
  • Jenn Bailey’s A Friend for Henry is a story about friendship told from the perspective of a boy with autism.

Middle grades (from nine to 13)

  • Lynne Kelly’s Song for a Whale tells of a 12-year-old deaf girl who goes on a quest to help a whale who can’t communicate with other whales.
  • Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya follows a daughter’s experience in repairing her relationship with her father after he comes back from deployment.

Teens (aged 14 to 18)

  • Karol Ruth Silverstein’s Cursed won for telling the story of a girl with deteriorating juvenile arthritis who finally finds her voice.
  • Alison Gervais’ The Silence Between Us is about a deaf teen who is adjusting to a high school where everyone else can hear.

In Australia few organisations run awards programs for books for children and young people with disability for their particular focus areas. Speech Pathology Australia, for example, presents its Book of the Year Awards annually. However, there is no national awards program that is non-specific to a particular type of disability.

Although The Children’s Book Council of Australia does not offer a specific award for books that focus on children and young people with disability, its winners list for 2019 includes these options:

For younger readers

  • In Everything I’ve Never Said by Samantha Wheeler the main character has Rett syndrome, so she can’t talk, nod her head or point. She understands everything but no-one understands her.

For older readers

  • Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein won the Book of the Year Honours Award for its portrayal of a 15-year-old mute girl who has experienced childhood trauma.
  • Karen Foxlee’s Lenny’s Book of Everything, about a seven-year-old who is as tall as a man, also won the Book of the Year Honours Award.

A reading list of children’s books that explore difference can be found on the Essential Kids website.

All books are available online.

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