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Positive representations of disabilities

by Sophie Green

Positive Representations of Disability

Splash, by Claire Cashmore and Sharon Davey

Claire Cashmore, MBE and Paralympic gold medallist, was born without a left forearm - but she never let being different stand in the way of her big dreams. 'Splash' is based on Claire's real-life experience: this gold medal-winning swimmer really was scared of water - until one day, everything changed!

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Amazing, by Steve Antony

A little boy and his pet dragon are the very best of friends. They laugh, they sing, they dance, they snooze. They are both amazing - just like everyone else! A celebration of friendship and being yourself with a positive message about celebrating diversity.

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Everybody has a body, by Jon Burgerman

Everybody is different in some way - and being different is okay! Whether your body is big, small, wide or tall, it is something to celebrate and be proud of. This comical, picture book contains a positive, empowering message about being confident in yourself and is aimed at younger children.

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Pablo and the Noisy Party, by Andrew Brenner and Sumita Majumdar

Pablo is the first animated TV series to star an autistic character. Pablo's mum takes him to his cousin Lorna's birthday party, but Pablo gets scared of the noisy party! Pablo hides in the car, and soon his friends come to join him. Pablo's friends help him realise that it's OK if he doesn't want to go to the party. All 'Pablo' books are written by writers on the autistic spectrum and are grounded in the real-life experiences of autistic children.

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Susan laughs, by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross

Susan laughs, she sings, she rides, she swings, she gets angry, she gets sad, she is good, she is bad, Susan is no different to any other child. At the end we see her in a wheel chair, but that doesn't mean she isn't just like me, just like you.

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We are all wonders, by R. J. Palacio

I know I can't change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see. 'Wonder' is the unforgettable story of August Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. With over 5 million copies sold, 'Wonder' is a true modern classic, a life-changing read, and has inspired kindness and acceptance in countless readers. Now younger readers can discover the Wonder message with this gorgeous picture book, starring Auggie and his dog Daisy on an original adventure, written and illustrated by R.J. Palacio. With spare, powerful text and richly-imagined illustrations, 'We're All Wonders' shows readers what it's like to live in Auggie's world - a world in which he feels like any other kid, but he's not always seen that way.

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Talking is not my thing!, by Rose Robbins

The autistic sister in this sibling pair is non verbal, but she finds plenty of ways to communicate and have fun with her brother. Although she can't talk, this little girl understands everything, and has plenty to say, and lots of ideas. Through body language, drawing pictures, making gestures or using flash cards, she is able to contribute to their life together. Her brother and granny are able to understand her whether she needs help or is helping them!

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Can bears ski?, by Raymond Antrobus and Polly Dunbar

This delightful picture book tracks a father-and-son journey into the discovery and management of deafness. Boy Bear can't hear Dad Bear coming to wake him up in the morning, but he can feel the floor vibrate with his heavy footsteps. He can only grasp little bits of what his teacher says to him at school. He can't catch what his friends are laughing at. With the support of Dad Bear, Boy Bear visits an audiologist and, eventually, he gets hearing aids. Suddenly, he understands the question everyone has been asking him.

Raymond draws on his own experience to show how isolating it can be for a deaf child in a hearing world. But through his lyrical and moving words, matched with Polly's stunning imagery, he also shows how many ways there are to communicate love. With a solid network, Boy Bear will find his place in the world.

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Isaac and his amazing Asperger superpowers!, by Melanie Walsh

Meet Isaac. He's a superhero! He might look like everyone else, but he has a kind of autism called Asperger's. Inside this book he'll tell you all about what it's like to have his Asperger superpowers.

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Baby bird, by Andrew Gibbs and Zosienka

A moving debut picture book about the power of friendship and the importance of accepting yourself just the way you are.

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Just because, by Rebecca Elliott

Encompassing the issue of disability in a charming celebration of sibling friendship, 'Just Because' describes a younger brother who is only just beginning to realise that his big sister has special needs.

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Thimble wonga bonkers, by Jon Blake and Martin Chatterton

Mum goes away on a spa week, leaving Dad to look after their son Jams, and pet monkey Thimble. But after Mum gives Thimble the shopping money everything goes bananas! Can Jams save the day when Dad decides to sell his soul to repay their debts?

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Ade’s amazing ade-ventures: Battle of the Cyborg Cat, by Ade Adepitan

When Ade moves to London from Nigeria, he knows things will be different, but nothing can prepare him for the ups and downs of his Parson's Road adventures. Ade doesn't always feel welcome in his new community; fitting in is hard, especially as he looks different to everyone else. But Ade is brave and takes on the school bullies, surprising himself and the kids on his new street. His heroic acts and super football skills quickly help him make new friends who will always be there for him.

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The amazing Edie Eckhart, by Rosie Jones and Natalie Smillie

'Do you like chicken?' Oscar asked me. I nodded. 'Then take a wing'. Oscar offered me his arm and we linked each other into the school hall. Edie has cerebral palsy, but she's used to it because she's spent her whole life being a bit wobbly. She can't wait to start secondary school with her best friend Oscar and share sausage rolls with him at breaktime. But when Oscar scuppers these plans by getting his first ever girlfriend, GROSS, Edie eventually decides to stop feeling sorry for herself and find a boyfriend, so she can prove to Oscar she's grown up too.

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How to train your dragon, by Cressida Cowell

Hiccup Haddock Horrendous III was a truly extraordinary Viking hero. The warrior chieftain and awesome sword fighter was known as 'the Dragon Whisperer', on account of his power over these terrifying beasts. But it wasn't always like that, and this is the story of his rise to fame, in his own words.

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El Deafo, by Cece Bell

This memoir of growing up deaf is also a deeply perceptive memoir of growing up, about all the pain, awkwardness and longing of being a kid, especially one watching the world from a 'fortress of solitude'.

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Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Phillbrick

Max is used to being called Stupid. And he is used to everyone being scared of him. On account of his size and looking like his dad. Kevin is used to being called Dwarf. On account of his size and being some cripple kid. But greatness comes in all sizes, and together Max and Kevin become 'Freak The Mighty' and walk high above the world.

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A kind of spark, by Elle McNicoll

'A Kind of Spark' tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there's more to the story of these 'witches', just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard?

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I funny: a middle school story, by James Patterson

Jamie Grimm is a middle schooler on a mission: he wants to become the world's greatest standup comedian, even if he doesn't have a lot to laugh about these days. He's new in town and stuck living with his aunt, uncle, and their evil son Stevie, a bully who doesn't let Jamie's wheelchair stop him from messing with Jamie as much as possible.

But Jamie doesn't let his situation get him down. When his Uncle Frankie mentions a contest called The Planet's Funniest Kid Comic, Jamie knows he has to enter. But are the judges only rewarding him out of pity because of his wheelchair, like Stevie suggests? Will Jamie ever share the secret of his troubled past instead of hiding behind his comedy act?

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Song for a whale, by Lynn Kelly

Iris was born deaf, but she's never let that define her; after all, it's the only life she's ever known. And until recently she wasn't even very lonely, because her grandparents are both deaf, too. But Grandpa has just died and Grandma's not the same without him. The only place Iris really feels at home anymore is in her electronics workshop where she loves taking apart antique radios. Then, during a science lesson about sound waves, Iris finds out about a whale who is unable to communicate with other whales. The lonely whale awakens something in Iris. She's determined to show him that someone in the world knows he's there.

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Gracie Fairshaw and the mysterious guest, by Susan Brownrigg

Gracie Fairshaw and her family have barely moved into The Majestic, a Blackpool boarding house when Ma mysteriously vanishes. She teams up with her younger brother George, and befriends siblings Violet and Tom, and maid Phyllis. They must work out why one of the guests - a conman conjurer - has made Ma disappear!

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We are giants, by Amber Lee Dodd

Sydney thinks her mum Amy is the best mum in the world - even if she is a bit different. When everyone else kept growing, Amy got to 124cm and then stopped right there. The perfect height, in Sydney's opinion: big enough to reach the ice cream at the supermarket, small enough to be special. Sydney's dad died when she was only five, but her memories of him, her mum's love and the company of her brave big sister Jade means she never feels alone. But when the family are forced to move house, things get tricky. Sydney and Jade must make new friends, deal with the bullies at their new school and generally figure out the business of growing up. But Sydney doesn't want to grow up, not if it means getting bigger than her mum. And her mum is barely four feet tall.

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Can you see me?, by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott

People think that because Tally's autistic, she doesn't realise what they're thinking, but Tally sees and hears - and notices - all of it. Endearing, insightful and warmly uplifting, this is a story of autism, empathy and kindness that will touch readers of all ages.

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Talking about disability

What happened to you?, by James Catchpole

Imagine you were asked the same question again and again throughout your life. Imagine if it was a question that didn't bring about the happiest of memories. This is the experience of one-legged Joe, a child who just wants to have fun in the playground. Constantly seen first for his disability, Joe is fed up of only ever being asked about his leg. All he wants to do is play Pirates. But as usual, one after the other, all the children ask him the same question they always ask, 'What happened to you?'

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All about diversity, by Felicity Brooks

This exploration of difference helps young children learn to respond in a kind and equal way to everyone, regardless of shape, size, age, physical and mental ability, gender, ethnicity, beliefs, language, culture, background and so on. With topics ranging from clothes and food to homes, festivals and families, there is plenty for children to talk about as they find out about what makes people different and what makes them unique.

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I’m not a label, by Cerrie Burnell

In this stylishly illustrated biography anthology, meet 34 artists, thinkers, athletes, and activists with disabilities, from past and present. From Frida Kahlo to Stephen Hawking, find out how these iconic figures have overcome obstacles, owned their differences and paved the way for others by making their bodies and minds work for them. These short biographies tell the stories of people who have faced unique challenges which have not stopped them from becoming trailblazers, innovators, advocates, and makers.

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Break the mould, by Sinéad Burke and Natalie Byrne

Sometimes it can seem like the world isn't built for you or like you don't belong. But why should you change who you are for the sake of others? Sinéad Burke is an advocate, activist, teacher, writer and British vogue cover model. She also happens to be a little person at three and a half feet tall. Reflecting on her experiences growing up, Sinéad offers a heartfelt and inspiring guide to young readers on believing in themselves and finding comfort and pride in their own skin. From the power of being different and discovering things you love about yourself, to using your voice to be an ally and show friendship to others, it's time to break the mould and find your place in the world.

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Frida Kahlo, by Lucy Brownridge and Sandra Dieckmann

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican painter and today is one of the world's favourite artists. As a child, she was badly affected by polio, and later suffered a terrible accident that left her disabled and in pain. Shortly after this accident, Kahlo took up painting, and through her surreal, symbolic self portraits described the pain she suffered, as well as the treatment of women, and her sadness at not being able to have a child. This book tells the story of Frida Kahlo's life through her own artworks, and shows how she came to create some of the most famous paintings in the world. Learn about her difficult childhood, her love affair with fellow painter Diego Rivera, and the lasting impact her surreal work had on the history of art in this book that brings her life to work.

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The extraordinary life of Stephen Hawking, by Kate Scott

Discover the extraordinary life of the man behind some of the world's most incredible scientific discoveries; Stephen Hawking was a physicist, cosmologist and author who made the study of the universe understandable to everyone.

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Questions and feelings about having a disability, by Louise Spilsbury

How do you help a young child deal with disability or explain what that means? This hands on picture book is designed to help children with their questions and feelings about tricky topics that can be hard to talk about. The exquisite and approachable illustrations to give a comforting story book feel. A perfect aid to help children open up and explore how they feel and steps they can take to help them cope.

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