Plano Reads: All-Abilities – Junior Books

In this book lists, we’re celebrating characters of all abilities. Check out the Children’s Book list for a younger audience.

The list below includes links to the library catalog for easy requests or downloading. Most books are from the perspective of a person with a disability; if you are looking for more informational books you can search for titles in the library catalog. The lists we’re publishing cover a variety of disabilities and are a sample of what is available from Plano Public Library. Head to the catalog to search for any specific titles or topics not featured here.

Junior Fiction

Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll Print
When she discovers that her small Scottish town used to burn witches simply because they were different, a neurodivergent girl who sees and hears things others cannot refuses to let them be forgotten.

Boy Called Bat by Elana Arnold Print
For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

Roll With It by Jamie Sumner Print
Twelve-year-old Ellie, who has cerebral palsy, finds her life transformed when she moves with her mother to small-town Oklahoma to help care for her grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s Disease.

Tune It Out by Jamie Sumner Print
Twelve-year-old Lou Montgomery’s life has been centered on her mother’s terrifying plan to make her a singing star, but a crisis reveals Lou’s sensory processing disorder and people determined to help her address it.

Not If I Can Help It by Carolyn Mackler Print
Willa lives on the upper West Side of Manhattan with her divorced father and her younger brother and attends fifth grade with her best friend Ruby, and she likes things to be a certain way, because it makes life manageable even with her Sensory Processing Disorder; she certainly does not like surprises, and her father has just thrown her a big one: he has been dating Ruby’s mother, and suddenly Willa’s life seems to be spiraling out of her control–and part of the trouble is that she cannot even explain why she thinks this is a horrible idea, when everyone else thinks that it is wonderful.

Sunnyside Plaza by Scott Simon Print
While helping police officers Esther and Lon investigate a suspicious death at her group home, nineteen-year-old Sal Miyake, who is mentally challenged, gains insights into herself and makes new friends.

One-Third Nerd by Gennifer Choldenko Print
Ten-year-old Liam and his two younger sisters, precocious third-grader Dakota and second-grader Izzy, who has Down syndrome, face the possibility of losing their beloved dog, Cupcake, who keeps urinating on their apartment’s carpet.

Running on Empty by S. E.  Durrant Print
After his grandfather dies, eleven-year-old JJ, a talented runner, assumes new responsibilities including taking care of his intellectually-challenged parents and figuring out how bills get paid.

Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya Print
Sixth-grader Emilia Torres struggles with ADHD, her controlling abuela, her mother’s work commitments, her father’s distance after returning from deployment, evolving friendships, and a conflict over school redistricting.

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya Print
After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mother takes him and his younger brother, who has Down syndrome, to Puerto Rico to visit relatives they do not remember or have never met, and while there Marcus starts searching for his father, who left their family ten years ago and is somewhere on the island.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling Print
New friends and a mystery help Aden, thirteen, adjust to middle school and life at a dying western theme park in a new state, where her being born armless presents many challenges.

Aven Green: Sleuthing Machine by Dusti Bowling Print
Third-grader Aven Green has been solving mysteries for a whole month, cracking such cases as The Mystery of the Cranky Mom. But can this perceptive detective solve two cases at the same time? First, her teacher’s lunch bag disappears. Then Aven’s great-grandma’s dog goes missing. Fortunately, since Aven was born without arms, all the “arm” cells went to her super-powered brain instead.

The Brave by James Bird Print
Collin can’t help himself–he has a unique condition that finds him counting every letter spoken to him. It’s a quirk that makes him a prime target for bullies, and a continual frustration to the adults around him, including his father. When Collin asked to leave yet another school, his dad decides to send him to live in Minnesota with the mother he’s never met. She is Ojibwe, and lives on a reservation. Collin arrives in Duluth with his loyal dog, Seven, and quickly finds his mom and his new home to be warm, welcoming, and accepting of his condition. Collin’s quirk is matched by that of his neighbor, Orenda, a girl who lives mostly in her treehouse and believes she is turning into a butterfly. With Orenda’s help, Collin works hard to overcome his challenges. His real test comes when he must step up for his new friend and trust his new family.

Show Me a Sign by Clare Ann LeZotte Print
It is 1805 and Mary Lambert has always felt safe among the deaf community of Chilmark on Martha’s Vineyard where practically everyone communicates in a shared sign language, but recent events have shattered her life; her brother George has died, land disputes between English settlers and the Wampanoag people are becoming increasingly bitter, and a “scientist” determined to discover the origins of the islands’ widespread deafness has decided she makes the perfect “live specimen”–and kidnapped her.

Get a Grip Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit Print
Eleven-year-old knuckleball pitcher Vivy Cohen, who has autism, becomes pen pals with her favorite Major League baseball player after writing a letter to him as an assignment for her social skills class.

The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor Print
As he grieves his best friend Benny’s death, Mason and his friend Calvin, who are targeted by the neighborhood bullies, create an underground haven for themselves, but when Calvin goes missing Mason finds himself in trouble.


Junior Non-Fiction

All the Way to the Top: How One Girl’s Fight for Americans with Disabilities Changed Everything by Darren Lebeauf Print
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, Jennifer Keelan grew up battling-and overcoming-the limitations others set for her. From a lack of cutaway curbs and bus lifts to being denied enrollment at her neighborhood school, Jennifer was continually blocked from living the life she wanted. But after discovering the world of disability rights activism, she knew she had to use her voice to change things.

Unstoppable: Women with Disabilities by Helen Wolf Print
An illustrated book about ten women who face physical and mental health challenges, some from birth and some who became disabled later in life. But they all share the determination to make the world a better place, not just for themselves but for those who will come after them.

Understanding Autism by Jessica Rusick Print
In this title, readers learn common symptoms and behaviors of autism and how it affects kids at school and in relationships. Text includes suggestions on how to be a kind and respectful friend to someone with autism and appropriate activities kids can enjoy together. A famous person who has overcome the challenges of autism is highlighted.

Decan Farmer: Paralympic Hockey Star by Matt Chandler Print
Declan Farmer has never let anything hold him back. Despite being born with only partial legs, Farmer has been an avid athlete since youth. He fell in love with sled hockey and quickly became a teen sensation. Farmer has led the USA Paralympic Sled Hockey Team to not one, but two, Paralympic gold medals. Learn what it took for him to get to the podium and where he would like to go from there.

My Friend Uses Leg Braces by Kaitlyn Duling Print
Beginning readers are introduced to different characters who use leg braces, how using leg braces may affect their actions, and how we can be good friends to people who use leg braces.

My Friend Uses a Wheel Chair by Kirsten Chang Print
Beginning readers are introduced to different characters who use wheelchairs, how using a wheelchair may affect their actions, and how we can be good friends to people who use wheelchairs.

Lucas at the Paralympics by Igor Ploh Print
Lucas the Lion discovers the Paralympics–where physically disabled world-class athletes exemplify strength, determination, and courage”– Provided by publisher. Includes sidebars about how athletes who are blind, wear prosthetics, or use wheelchairs compete in different events, as well as the history of the Paralympic Games.

Sports of the Paralympic Games by Aaron Derr Print
An overview of the Paralympic Games featuring sports played by Individuals and teams of athletes competing against each other … Like the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games showcase super strength and skills, stamina and endurance both individually and through teamwork.

What are the Paralympic Games? by Gail Herman Print
As the Opening Ceremony for the 1948 Summer Olympic Games commenced in London, a similar sporting competition was taking place a few miles away. But the men at Stoke Mandeville weren’t your typical athletes. They were paralyzed World War II veterans. The games at Stoke Mandeville were so successful that they would eventually lead evolve into the Paralympics. Participants from all around the world vie for the gold medal in a variety of sports, including archery, basketball, swimming, speed skating, and ice hockey. Author Gail Herman highlights their achievements, describes how these athletes train–both mentally and physically–for the games, and gives the reader a better understanding of what makes the Paralympic Games one of the world’s most viewed sporting events.

My Friend Has Down Syndrome by Kaitlyn Duling Print
Beginning readers are introduced to different characters who have Down syndrome, how Down syndrome may affect their actions, and how we can be good friends to people with this condition.

Dark Was the Night by Gary Golio Print
Willie Johnson was born in 1897, and from the beginning he loved to sing–and play his cigar box guitar. But his childhood was interrupted when he lost his mother and his sight. How does a blind boy make his way in the world? Fortunately for Willie, the music saved him and brought him back into the light. His powerful voice, combined with the wailing of his slide guitar, moved people. Willie made a name for himself performing on street corners all over Texas. And one day he hit it big when he got a record deal and his songs were played on the radio. Then in 1977, his song–“Dark Was the Night”–was chosen to light up the darkness when it was launched into space on the Voyager I space probe’s famous Golden Record. His immortal song was selected for the way it expresses the loneliness humans all feel, while reminding us we’re not alone.

Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Gir’s Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis Print
Rebeka Uwitonze was born in Rwanda with curled and twisted feet, which meant she had to crawl or be carried to get around. At nine years old, she gets an offer that could change her life. A doctor in the US might be able to turn her feet. But it means leaving her own family behind and going to America on her own.

Brenna Huckaby: Paralympic Snowboarding Champ by Emma Carlson Berne Print
Brenna Huckaby was diagnosed with bone cancer at 14 years old and had her right leg amputated above the knee. That could have been the end of her sports career. Instead, the former gymnast took a different route. She fell in love with snowboarding and went on to become a gold-medal Paralympian. Learn how she overcame obstacles to make it to the top of the podium in this inspiring biography

Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship by Jessica Kensky Print
When he is paired with a girl who has lost her legs, Rescue worries that he isn’t up to the task of being her service dog.

Different Abilities by Rebecca Pettiford Print
Beginning readers will learn to celebrate diversity by appreciating the variety of abilities people have. Vibrant, full-color photos and carefully leveled text engage young readers as they draw inferences about how diversity makes our society stronger and more interesting.

New Hand, New Life: Robots, Prostheses and Innovation by Alex Mihailidis Print
Everyone uses machines in our daily life — cars, buses and bikes; computers and phones; washing machines and dryers. Another type of machine is an “assistive technology”. These enable a man missing a leg to walk, a woman missing an arm to hold objects, and a child in a wheelchair to play a sport. New Hands, New Life offers young readers the opportunity to learn how our bodies work during physical activity and what happens when they don’t work properly. It shows how exciting advances in technology and science have allowed us to create assistive technologies — from artificial limbs and wheelchairs to exoskeletons and robots — that make it possible for someone with a disability to make new abilities. Assistive technologies are especially life-changing for a child who can overcome the challenges of a missing limb or reduced motor function to enjoy a life of learning and play that would be otherwise out of reach.

Itzhak: A Boy Who Loved the Violin by Tracy Newman Print
Before becoming one of the greatest violinists of all time, Itzhak Perlman was simply a boy who loved music. Raised by a poor immigrant family in a tiny Tel Aviv apartment, baby Itzhak was transformed by the sounds from his family’s kitchen radio-graceful classical symphonies, lively klezmer tunes, and soulful cantorial chants. The rich melodies and vibrant rhythms spoke to him like magic, filling his mind with vivid rainbows of color. After begging his parents for an instrument, Itzhak threw his heart and soul into playing the violin. Despite enormous obstacles-including a near-fatal bout of polio that left him crippled for life-Itzhak persevered, honing his extraordinary gift. When he performed on the Ed Sullivan Show at only 13, audiences around the world were mesmerized by the warmth, joy, and passion in every note. Gorgeously illustrated with extensive back matter, this picture-book biography recounts Itzhak’s childhood journey-from a boy with a dream to an internationally acclaimed violin virtuoso.

Six Dots: A Story of Young Louise Braille by Jen Bryant Print
Louis Braille was just five years old when he lost his sight. He was a clever boy, determined to live like everyone else, and what he wanted more than anything was to be able to read. Even at the school for the blind in Paris, there were no books for him. And so he invented his own alphabet-a whole new system for writing that could be read by touch. A system so ingenious that it is still used by the blind community today. Award-winning writer Jen Bryant tells Braille’s inspiring story with a lively and accessible text, filled with the sounds, the smells, and the touch of Louis’s world. Boris Kulikov’s inspired paintings help readers to understand what Louis lost, and what he was determined to gain back through books.


#MoreThanBooks Resources and Services

In addition to the variety of reading material available from Plano Public Library, you can check out the newest series of programs starting summer 2022: SNAP – Supporting Neurodivergent Access to Programming. SNAP programs can be for all ages, preschoolers, grades K-2 as well as teens and adults. Head to our online calendar and search “SNAP” for upcoming session details.

Along with these library programs, Plano Parks and Recreation Adapted Recreation programs offer recreational opportunities for individuals with special needs from 12 months to over 60 years of age. Programs are offered year-round and provide a variety of activities such as; fitness, crafts and fine arts, education, outings and a variety of other programs that meet the needs of children/teens and adults with disabilities. Jack Carter Park is also an all-abilities park: “Located at 2601 Maumelle Drive near Schimelpfenig Middle School, the new playground within the park serves children with disabilities and includes experiences that involve movement and climbing as well as a mix of tactile, visual and auditory features.”

Stop by Schimelpfenig Library to see an art exhibit through April 30, 2022. View artwork created by participants in the Lunch With Friends class for adults. The class is offered by the City of Plano’s Adapted Recreation program, serving individuals with special needs age 12 months to 60. Visit during library open hours to enjoy this vibrant display of creativity.

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