Close up of girl reading braille at desk in library

Close up of girl reading braille at desk in library ()

This month we wanted to highlight 10 books by authors with disabilities and about disabilities.

Niagara Falls, Or Does It?” by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver (2003) (Realistic Fiction) (Middle Grades) (Humor) (Learning Disabilities)

This is the first in the “Hank Zipzer” series. Hank loves science and one might think that means he loves the science fair. Except, Hank has dyslexia, and that makes the report for the science fair so much harder. He finds the perfect science fair project, but hijinks ensue involving his sister’s iguana laying 18 eggs in his project. Hank Zipzer has also been turned into a television series that you can stream on various services.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend” by Laura Hillenbrand (1999) (Nonfiction) (History) (Sports)

In 1938, Seabiscuit, the racehorse with a crooked leg, received more news coverage than FDR, Hitler or Mussolini. This book tells the amazing story of how this horse with a disability went on to be a sports icon. While not a subject in the book, Hillenbrand lives with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. You can also watch the 2003 film loosely based on the life of this iconic horse, “Seabiscuit.”

The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded: Poems” by Molly McCully Brown (2017) (Fiction)  (Poetry) (History) *Trigger Warning (TW)* Abuse; Eugenics

Brown, born with Cerebral Palsy, gives voices to the people who were institutionalized in the early 20th century for epilepsy and other issues through this book of poetry. Throughout the different poems, the reader is taken through the experiences in the different parts of the Colony: the infirmaries, dormitories and the “blind room” (which is believed to be where the worst mistreatments occurred).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber (1939) (Short Story) (Fiction)

Thurber has limited eyesight due to an incident in childhood when his brother shot him in the eye with an arrow while playing William Tell. He developed a wild imagination due to his limited ability to play sports and other games. In this story, he extends his imagination to the character of Walter Mitty who humorously fantasizes about his life being full of excitement and adventure. In reality, he is a regular middle-aged man who runs errands with his wife. A 2013 film was released that is loosely based on the same premise.

QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology” edited by Raymond Luczak (2015) (Comics) (Poetry) (Short Stories) (LGBT) *TW* Some entries feature topics such as suicidal ideation and sexual assault.

The anthology is a collection of poems, stories, comics, and non-fiction pieces intersecting the identities of being both queer and having disabilities. It features contributions by 48 writers from all over the globe.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” by Jean-Dominique Bauby and Jeremy Leggatt (Translator) (1997) (Memoir) (Locked-In Syndrome)

Jean-Dominique Bauby is paralyzed from head to toe after a massive stroke in 1995. He goes from the life of being the editor of French, “Elle” magazine to communicating with only his left eyelid. This harrowing tale is  his life with “locked-in syndrome.” Bauby composed this book completely in his head and communicated it to a translator letter-by-letter as someone slowly recited the alphabet with Bauby blinking on the correct letter.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou (1969) (Memoir) (Race) (Classics) (Selected Mutism) *TW* Abuse and Sexual Assault

This classic book is just the first of Angelou’s memoirs and there is no question as to why it is on so many required reading lists. Angelou is sent away as a young child to live with her grandmother in a small Southern town where she experiences racism and abandonment. At age eight, she returns to live with her mother and experiences abuse and trauma that haunt her for years to follow. As an adult living in San Fransisco, Angelou finds inspiration and freedom through the work of other writers.

Loud Hands: Autistic People, Speaking” by Julia Bascom (2012) (Nonfiction) (Essays) (Social Justice)

This is a collection of essays written by and for people with autism. This anthology takes the reader from the beginnings of the autism advocacy movement through to the blogs of the early 2010s.

The Diary of Frida Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait” by Frida Kahlo (1995) (Memoir) (Art History) (Feminism)

Born with Spinal Bifida and contracting polio at age six impacted Kahlo throughout her life. This journal, containing poems, drawings, thoughts and dreams, chronicles the last 10 years of Kahlo’s life.

King for a Day” by Rukhsana Khan and Christine Krömer (Illustrator) (2013) (Children’s) (Fiction) (Using a Wheelchair)

Malik, a boy who uses a wheelchair in his everyday life in Lahore, Pakistan, enters his handmade kite in the kite fighting competition as part of the celebration of Basant. If he wins, he gets to be “King for a Day.” Those around him doubt his ability because of his kite’s size, but he proves them wrong. However, a bully intervenes and attempts to disrupt the celebrations. The entire family will enjoy reading about Malik, the culture surrounding this ancient holiday, and Malik’s “kingly” behavior upon winning.

March is also Women’s History Month and you can find 10 books to help you celebrate women’s history here.

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Tamala Malerk is a writer and editor with Stars and Stripes Europe. She has been with SSE since April 2022 writing articles all about travel, lifestyle, community news, military life and more. In May 2022, she earned her Ph.D. in History and promises it is much more relevant to this job than one might think.

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