Read All About It: Memoirs and Children’s Books About the Disability Experience
The Americans with Disabilities Act became law 32 years ago this month. Celebrate with some good books
In honor of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) month, I’d like to send some love out to authors of memoirs of the disability experience and to the approximately 72 authors of the Schneider Family Book Awards books. For those of you who read Emily Ladau’s excellent intro to the world of disability issues, Demystifying Disability, read on to find out what you might want to read next! Maybe you want to start with something funny; consider Kevin Kling’s The Dog Says How.
A good memoir to me contains not only the triumphs and traumas of the author’s life, but also the daily life of that person. When I’ve read a good memoir, I feel like I have visited that person’s world. Here are a baker’s dozen that I’ve read recently about people living with various disabilities which qualify as great:
- The Invisible Kingdom by Meghan O’Rourke (invisible disabilities)
- There Plant Eyes by M. Leona Godin
- The Power of Disability by Al Etmanksi
- The Night the Lights Went Out by Drew Magary (traumatic brain injury)
- Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price
- Deaf Utopia by Nyle DiMarco (Deafness)
- Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander (Usher’s Syndrome, deafness and blindness)
- My Beautiful Struggle by Jordan Bone (wheelchair using beauty consultant)
- About Us: Essays from the New York Times Disability Series, edited by Rosmarie Garland-Thomson
- Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong
- Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones (pain, disfigurement, motherhood)
- The Beauty of Dusk by Frank Bruni (blind in one eye)
- My Body is Not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church by Amy Kenny
Back in 2004 the American Library Association awarded the first Schneider Family Book Awards. I started this award because when I was little, there were so few books for kids about life with disabilities – just biographies of Louis Braille and Helen Keller, plus The Little Lame Prince and the Little House books. After 18 years of the awards, the poor judges have to consider a couple hundred books each year. Yes! You can find info about the winners here. This year’s winners have characters living with anxiety, autism, blindness, deafness, dyslexia, facial disfigurement, mobility impairments, and neurodivergence.
Recently Amazon added “disability fiction” as a category within fiction, so you can find even more good disability reads more easily. Enjoy good disability reading!
Tough Topics Book Club
Schneider will be a guest speaker at a virtual book club meeting to discuss the book Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally by Emily Ladau, which will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, July 20, from 7-8:30pm. Learn more from the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
Katherine Schneider is a retired clinical psychologist, an author, and a member of the Eau Claire County Board. She blogs at kathiecomments.wordpress.com and can be reached at email@example.com. Her own books include, most recently,