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Children's Books Representing Individuals with Disabilities


We all know how important it is for all children to be represented in children's literature. However, there seemed to be a lack of quality books about children with disabilities until the Dolly Gray Award was created in 2000 to recognize authors, illustrators, and publishers of authentic books about children with developmental disabilities.


Tina Taylor is a former associate Dean in the McKay School of Education with a degree in special education and helped create the book award. She was recently interviewed on an episode of the Seek Learning Podcast to discuss kids with disabilities in children's literature. In this episode, she talks about the Dolly Gray Awards and the importance of having diverse books in the classroom. To access the podcast, click here and scroll down to episode 32. To learn more about the award, click here. Let's take a look at some books that have received a Dolly Gray Award that you can use in your own classroom:


"Dancing with Daddy" was written by Anitra Rowe Schulte and illustrated by Ziyue Chen. This book received the Dolly Gray Award in 2022 for a depiction of multiple disabilities. Schulte tells the story of a little girl with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome going to her first father-daughter dance. The recommended grade levels for this book are PreK2. Click here to purchase the book.


"Scarlet Ibis" was written by Gill Lewis. This book received the Dolly Gray Award in 2020 for a depiction of Asperger's Syndrome. In this story, Scarlet has a little brother, Red. Red has Asperger's and loves birds. When Scarlet and Red are separated, she does everything she can to find her little brother. This book is recommended for grades 49. To purchase the book, click here.



"The Someday Birds" was written by Sally J. Pla. This book received the Dolly Gray Award in 2018 for a depiction of autism spectrum disorder. A young boy with autism, Charlie, is the main character of the story. He loves birds and finds ways to cope as he goes on a family road trip with some conflict on the way. This book is recommended for grades 37. To purchase a copy of the book, click here.



There are so many good children's books that represent children with disabilities, all thanks to the Dolly Gray Award. To meet with a student ambassador to learn more about the McKay School of Education and our majors, click here!

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