9 Unforgettable Books About People Who Refuse To Be Defined By Disabilities

Being reflected in media is important for everyone, and people with disabilities are particularly underrepresented in movies, TV, and books. Luckily, the works listed here shine a light on characters and real people living with everything from visual impairments to a life-long lack of arms and legs. This video was made with Ezvid Wikimaker.

Moving Works About People With Disabilities: Our 9 Picks

Title Author(s)
1. Love Without Limits Nick Vujicic & Kanae Vujicic
2. Compass Jennifer Gibson
3. Blind Rachel DeWoskin
4. Anatomy of a Miracle Jonathan Miles
5. Not If I See You First Eric Lindstrom
6. A Catalog of Birds Laura Harrington
7. My Perfect Imperfections Jalpa Williby
8. The Stars at Oktober Bend Glenda Millard
9. Islands and Insulin Erin Spineto

Non-Profits That Focus on Mental & Physical Health

8 Great Films About People With Disabilities

  1. Black (2005)
  2. Children of a Lesser God (1986)
  3. Rory O'Shea Was Here (2004)
  4. The Theory of Everything (2014)
  5. Scent of a Woman (1992)
  6. Adam (2009)
  7. Butterflies Are Free (1972)
  8. Everyday Heroes (2016)

The Truth About Growing Up Disabled

In Depth

Accurate representation is important for all demographics, but for individuals with physical impairments, it is often difficult to find. Seeing someone like yourself in a piece of literature can be empowering and inspiring. Here, in no particular order, are nine books that show anything is possible with a strong will and unbreakable spirit.

#1 on our list is "Love Without Limits" by Nick Vujicic and Kanae Vujicic. This is the true story of Nick Vujicic's remarkable life, and how his path led him to his wife, Kanae. Born without arms or legs, Nick conquered tremendous obstacles throughout his youth. His boundless positivity and religious faith helped him find purpose and enjoy meaningful experiences, but he wanted someone to share his life with. In Kanae, he found a partner willing to take on the challenges of marriage, and the two of them worked together to build something greater than themselves.

At #2 is "Compass" by Jennifer Gibson, the second book in a trilogy featuring Jessie, a teenage girl who is hard of hearing. Bullied at school, she finds refuge in martial arts. However, after she sustains a concussion during a tournament, she cannot attend practices and begins to feel intensely isolated. Determined to find another outlet for her energy, she volunteers at a summer camp for children with disabilities. Jessie proves to everyone that she is stronger than any problem she faces.

Jessie proves to everyone that she is stronger than any problem she faces.

Next, at #3, is "Blind" by Rachel DeWoskin. Emma returns to high school one year after an accident that left her blind. She soon realizes that navigating the world without her sight is more difficult with the added pressures of academic and social expectations. When she feels at her lowest, questioning her own purpose and existence, she meets a young girl who also recently became visually impaired. Emma mentors her and helps her cope with the changes she is facing. In turn, Emma is reminded of her own potential.

#4 is "Anatomy of a Miracle" by Jonathan Miles. Cameron Harris was injured in Afghanistan, leaving him paraplegic. He returns home to Mississippi and begins to acclimate to his new life. One day, he rises from his wheelchair and is able, inexplicably, to walk again. This medical anomaly earns the attention of everyone in his small town and eventually creates headlines around the world. Struggling to overcome his survivor's guilt and psychological trauma, Cameron tries to prove to himself that he is worthy of this miracle.

#5 on the list is "Not If I See You First" by Eric Lindstrom. With a strict set of rules and a straightforward personality, Parker makes it clear that she does not need any special treatment, despite her visual impairment. She can accomplish anything she sets her mind to, and her newest aspiration is earning a spot on her school's track team. Her strong will and commitment prove that her inability to see will not stop her from reaching her goals, but after an old friend returns to her life, she'll see that being vulnerable isn't always a negative thing.

With a strict set of rules and a straightforward personality, Parker makes it clear that she does not need any special treatment, despite her visual impairment.

At #6 is "A Catalog of Birds" by Laura Harrington. Before enlisting in the Vietnam War, Billy was an artist with a special interest in drawing birds. But when the military helicopter he is piloting is shot down, he suffers extensive injuries and can no longer draw. Back at home, he becomes withdrawn as he struggles with the effects of his physical and psychological traumas. The love and support of his family help him to forgive himself for the crash, and he learns to appreciate his life in a new and meaningful way.

Next, at #7, is Jalpa Williby's "My Perfect Imperfections." Lily Cooper has a big personality and strong opinions, but cerebral palsy prevents her from communicating them. Although she has lived her entire life unable to fully express herself, she has formed a close relationship with her best friend and twin sister, Layna. With the help of her sister and a new friend named Chance, Lily will learn to let people in and show them who she really is, despite her fear that all others will see is her disability.

#8 is "The Stars at Oktober Bend" by Glenda Millard. A brain injury causes Alice to have difficulty speaking. To overcome her communication barrier, she writes poems and places them around town for others to find. Manny, a former child soldier who uses running as his coping mechanism, discovers one of her poems and feels comforted by her words. A chance encounter brings them together, and their similar strength and resolve creates a close bond between them.

A brain injury causes Alice to have difficulty speaking.

In the #9 spot is "Islands and Insulin" by Erin Spineto, a memoir for those who struggle not with a visible physical impairment, but a medical condition that requires vigilant monitoring. Erin refuses to let type 1 diabetes slow her down, and her adventurous nature transcends the limitations of her condition. When she decides to set sail through the Florida Keys, she ignores the risks and is determined to prove that she is capable of anything. With careful planning and preparation, Erin is confident she can tackle a solo trip on the open water.