These 5 Books Redefine Disability Representation, and We Love To See It

Nothing stops love and adventure! Check out these books with characters who redefine what it means to be disabled and remarkable.

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Blue sky with a city skyline, green grass and a walking path. There are people of all types walking and talking. 3 book covers are shown in the sky.

Lately, literature and film have made significant progress in portraying diverse characters in a way that promotes inclusivity and realism. We live in a world where representation matters — but disabilities are still often overlooked in storytelling. Whether meant for children, young adults, or adults, books provide an amazing opportunity to connect readers with characters who face unique challenges and victories —whether they be in everyday moments or big heroic exploits. Featuring characters with physical, learning, or neurological disabilities, these five gripping stories showcase protagonists who navigate their lives and adventures with resilience and determination.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Representation: Being Deaf

Cover for "You're Welcome, Universe" by Whitney Gardner, showing a young girl doing graffiti art.
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Julia is a talented artist who gets herself expelled from the Kingston School for The Deaf for creating a graffiti mural across the back of the school — in a misguided attempt to stick up for her best friend, of course. Now here she is, the only deaf person in a suburban public school, an outcast from her first day. But that’s okay, she’s got her art and a brand-new hobby. Julia paints the ‘burbs wherever she can, and soon learns she’s not the only sneaky artist slinking around town. Some other mystery tagger is adding to her work, changing it — and it’s pissing her off!

Redsight by Meredith Mooring

Representation: Blindness

Cover for "Redsight" by Meredith Mooring, showing a priestess in a red robe before a large window to a spaceship.
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In this adult space opera, Korinna — a blind priestess with the power to manipulate space and time — has just three things on her to-do list: stay put, stay out of trouble, and stay alive. All her life, she was told she was the weakest in her Order and just a shade above useless. Turns out, she’s anything but! When she takes her place as a navigator on a ship for the first time, the truth is revealed to her. Korinna’s real purpose is to be part of a weapon of the Imperium, a powerful pawn for the Order.

Not that it matters anyway! The ship is attacked by an infamous space pirate named Aster and everything changes for Korinna all over again. Aster is on a warpath against the Imperium, and she’ll destroy anything in her way. Korinna is drawn to her, rather than repulsed. She knows she must choose a side, seize her full power, and put fate in her own hands, or the entire fabric of space-time and the future of the galaxy could be annihilated.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Representation: Fibromyalgia

Cover for "Get A Life, Chloe Brown" by Talia Hibbert, showing a couple hugging.
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Chloe Brown isn’t just a wealthy girl with fibromyalgia. She’s also a talented computer geek and she’s got one hell of a to-do list after a close brush with death. On it are seven steps to help her “get a life” by doing things she’s never done before. Scratch that, six steps, because she already moved out of her family’s giant estate: (1) have a drunken night out, (2) ride a motorcycle, (3) go camping, (4) participate in meaningless but great sex, (5) travel the world with only carry-on luggage, and (6) do something bad.

One problem: Chloe’s never been bad before. So, she enlists the help of a local tattooed hottie-handyman to show her how it’s done (and he’s even got a motorcycle). She knows he hides a sensitive, artistic side, though. That might be because she’s been spying on him… just a little bit. However, Chloe gets more than she bargains for when she asks for his help — he openly resents her family’s wealth, and there’s a reason why he never shows his art to others. But Chloe’s right: there’s something more beneath his rough exterior.

The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp and Manuel Preitano

Representation: Paraplegic People

Cover for "The Oracle Code: A Graphic Novel" by Marieke Nijkamp and Manuel Preitano, showing a determined young woman in a wheelchair.
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This one is an awesome graphic novel series! The story follows a fictional character from the DC Comics universe, Barbara Gordon, the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon — a man you know as Batman’s super important Arkham City ally. Perhaps you have also heard of Barbara’s other aliases, Oracle and Batgirl? This is her origin story, starting just before she becomes the brilliant super-hacker that we all know and love, who provides Batman and his allies with critical information and technical support behind the scenes.

Barbara Gordon is extremely intelligent, a masterful hacker, resourceful and highly trained in hand-to-hand combat. But a gunshot wound leaves her paralyzed from the waist down. While spending considerable time undergoing physical and mental rehabilitation at the esteemed Arkham Center for Independence, she starts to adapt to a new normal — or she would if there weren’t strange sounds going off and patients going missing. Unsure if her suspicion is more trauma than reality, Barabara takes it upon herself to solve this mystery.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Representation: Quadriplegics

Book cover for "Me Before You" by Jojo Moyes.
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This is a tissue-consuming tearjerker of a love story that’s already captured nearly a billion hearts between the book series and its critically acclaimed movie adaptation. Louisa Clark is described as a normal girl living a normal quiet life and always staying local. Will Traynor used to live the big life with big deals and extreme activities and worldwide travel. Unfortunately, after a traffic accident on a rainy day, he is left quadriplegic — and he’s pretty sure he can’t keep living this way. In the meantime, he needs a caretaker and quirky little Louisa is desperately in need of a job for her and her family. By the time Louisa meets Will, he is a sullen and rude man who doesn’t leave his room, large as it may be. In fact, he’s chased off many crying ex-caretakers before his family tries out Louisa.

Ah, but she’s a persistent one. Louisa eventually breaks through Will’s icy exterior, and a real connection forms between them. As she continues to care for him, their relationship evolves into real romance. Convinced of the importance of living life to the fullest, Lousia sets out to show Will life is still worth living. But he has other plans…

Blue background with white handicap symbol; handicapped person is shown leaning forward.
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Paralyzed protagonists, deaf artistic rascals, blind priests with superpowers, and girls who just wanna have fun — these are just some of the ways in which characters with disabilities are positively represented in literature. When writers paint disability with nuance, they illuminate the real picture of the total human experience.


Discover more Science Fiction and Fantasy books with great disability representation here!

For more graphic novels, browse our Illustrious Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels bookshelf on Bookshop.org!

FEATURED IMAGE BY BOOKSTR / ERIN DZIELSKI