AAPD’s Reading Recommendations

By Rachita Singh and Lilian Aluri | August 27, 2021

Whether you’ve used this summer to continue staying indoors or to safely start venturing outside, there’s a good chance that many of you had a book or audiobook with you. If you’re searching for the next book to add to your list, or hoping to start reading more this fall, AAPD is here for you! Here are some reading recommendations shared and reviewed by AAPD’s staff, interns, alums, and friends. We hope that this list can help fuel your next relaxed reading session with stories written by and for the disability community:

The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public (The History of Disability) by Susan M. Schweik

“It is important for anyone to understand the history of their community. The Ugly Laws does just that: shines a light on the history of [Disability] policy in the United States. Through a detailed analysis, Schweik explains the social context that led to these laws and their lasting impact on society – from disability studies to law and the arts.”

Annika Grassl, 2014 AAPD Summer Intern

Formats: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle

What Happened to You? by James Catchpole and Karen George

Image of the cover of "What Happened to You?" by James Catchpole and Karen George. The cover is an illustrated depiction of a young amputee, a little child with blond hair. The child is wearing a red and white striped shirt and blue shorts and is standing on a swing on one leg.

What Happened to You? is the kind of book I wish I had as a disabled child. Its story is fun while also helping address the complex emotions that children with disabilities feel when asked personal questions about their disabilities over and over and over again. I think it does a great job at letting its reader know in a non-confrontational way that no one is privy to private medical information about disabled people. I use it to help the people in my life understand my perspective and I think it is a helpful resource for any disabled child or adult. Plus it [has] got some lovely artwork and some pirates to boot.”

Sophie Poost, AAPD Staff

Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle

Three Best Friends by Robbin Miller

Image of the cover of "Three Best Friends" by Robbin Miller. The cover is an illustrated depiction of three children eating ice cream and smiling together, one of which is a wheelchair user.

Three Best Friends is a children’s picture book for children ages 6-9 years old. It tells the story of the protagonist, a wheelchair user, who is excited to play on the new community playground with his two able-bodied friends. After the ribbon is cut, the protagonist can not move his wheelchair feely along the wood chip flooring. He struggles intensely as the kids are staring at him. The readers will find out how the protagonist joins his two best friends in the new playground.”

Robbin Miller, Disability Rights Advocate

Formats: Paperback, Kindle

Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales From a Life by Harriet McBryde Johnson

Image of the cover of "Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life" by Harriet McBryde Johnson. The cover is simply a light green background with the title and author's name in blue, white and orange text.

Too Late to Die Young is a brilliantly witty collection of stories that together form the memoir of Harriet McBryde Johnson, a physically disabled attorney, activist, and writer. Johnson takes you to a college dorm showdown with Ronald Reagan’s staff to reflections on liberty in Havana to fighting for accessibility at the Democratic National Convention, all while rocking an unconventional body and relying on personal attendants…Whether you’re a disability history nerd looking to learn more about the MDA’s Jerry Lewis telethon or trying to inspire the fire in yourself to advocate, you’ll find that here. Even if you’re looking for a fun, relatable summer read, you’ll find that here. Whatever you’re hoping to get out of this read, you will not be able to put it down once you pick it up.”

Emeline Lakrout, Disability Download Subscriber

Formats: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle

Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong

Image of the cover of "Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century" edited by Alice Wong. The cover is a white background with different colored triangles behind the title and author name which is in black text.

“This anthology is a collection of powerful first-person stories from disabled individuals, ranging from accounts of disability advocacy on the national and local level, eulogies of queer disabled folx, testimonies of discriminatory healthcare in Indigenous communities, explorations of crip time, and so much more. This book discusses disability through storytelling, an empowering and triumphant moment of disabled individuals taking control of their own narratives…Ultimately, I can only imagine that any reader who opens up this anthology will leave having a much wider appreciation for the immense scope of the disability community; this book is a sampler of sorts, a sneak peek into the vast diversity and nuance that lies within the confines, or lack thereof, of a disability. All in all, I would present only my highest recommendation for Alice Wong’s Disability Visibility, a must-read for AAPD’s summer reading list!”

Jennifer Lee, 2021 AAPD Summer Intern

Formats: Paperback, Audiobook, Kindle

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher

Image of the cover of "Mama Zooms" by Jane Cowen-Fletcher. The cover is an illustrated depiction of a mother with red hair and a yellow t-shirt sitting with her child who also has red hair and is wearing a red t-shirt and overalls. Both of them have their arms outstretched and are smiling.

“Mama Zooms is a story of the magic and freedom that wheelchairs bring their users told from the perspective of a young son of a wheelchair user. The beauty of the book is how it normalizes disability. It weaves an imaginative story without adding any outside stigmas or glamour to disability. Being a wheelchair user is seen as not a good thing or [a] bad thing, just a normal thing. It’s a cute wholesome story for the whole family.”

Sophie Poost, AAPD Staff

Formats: Paperback, Audio, Hardcover

Be sure to check out Emily Ladau’s book, Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally, releasing September 7, 2021.

Our reading list will return in 2022, tell us what books you would like to see in the next list! Submit your recommendations here!

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