Dan White is the author of the brilliant Department of Ability comic book, featuring a cast of superheroes whose impairments are their greatest superpower.
In this blog Dan runs down his list of the top five books that feature disability.
Disability in literary form is rare. I have searched, read and reviewed as many books as I could find that include it. Here is a list of my champion books. So, buckle up and, as my daughter Emily says to me as her wheelchair passes out of the house, “let’s roll!”
I had to include this. Catherine is the great undiscovered children’s author. So far wrongly ignored by mainstream publishers, Mr Millet’s farm is colourful and unique. Catherine writes with complete charm and understands both her subject and the little eyes who read it. It’s the story of Raj, a wheelchair and the different animals that reside on the farm. The moral of the story is that it’s great to be unique and be who you are. The book aims to help raise awareness of disabilities from a young age.
Complete with wonderful, colourful illustrations, Mr Millet’s farm is perfect to read together with your children. It is an utterly beautiful book on acceptance and deserves a wider audience.
Disability Sci-fi? Yes! Science fiction is the most imaginative of all genres. To imagine a world that does not exist takes a special mind. And to integrate disability makes that mind even more incredible. It shows a world in the future where disability and wheelchairs still have issues, but things have moved on. For instance, plasma limbs (spoiler alert), the uses of magic and the dangers of machine ethics give the book massive depth and the fact it has a wheelchair user climbing a mountain on the front cover sold it to me almost instantly!
Well, I was sold on this because of the Christmas aspect! But the gem of this book is the fact that the main character uses a wheelchair. However, his disability is only broached almost a quarter of the way through and then it is dealt with swiftly and to the point. Scope gave me this book to review and I consumed it all the way home from London. It was generally laugh out loud funny, the main character William is hilarious and a character in his own right. You feel relaxed around his story and therefore laugh at his wheelchair accidents. You also get a darn good Christmas story to boot, with a dinosaur!
Tom has a talent for writing for kids that also sucks in the adult reader. Never have I felt more comfortable laughing out loud on the packed 5.30 from Waterloo. Diversity? Inclusion? Laughs? Nailed it.
David is a good friend of mine and an author to boot, however, that relationship has no bearing on his book being included here. Essentially a guide book for media types, The Art of Disability is a painstakingly sourced and written piece on the power of representation, it’s importance and how inclusion can be achieved in the wider media world. David, a wheelchair user, knows his stuff. His investigations into the industry, his tips and his knowledge are evident.
Each chapter is easily digestible and informative for disabled people wanting to break into the industry. David is passionate and his experience, talent and knowledge ooze from the book. Full of quotes and humour this is essential for any disabled talent or any uninformed media executive.
Easily the winner, a graphic novel of such diverse beauty and power. I have re-read it constantly and it has had a huge impact on my work. Al the author gives you his life of being born with Spina Bifida from birth to present day in a series of incredible, stark, beautiful black and white images. The variant styles and text absorb you totally. Imagery is paramount and here Al uses many styles to illustrate his life from an era where being born differently meant different attitudes.
We see his formative years, his doctors, bullies, love and dreams being played in powerful, dedicated art. It is unashamedly raw both in language and style, but it is essential to read. Sadly, out of print, but with a sequel in the works and a reprint hopeful, Al’s book needs to have a resurgence, especially today when it is more relevant than ever. The Spiral Cage is unlike any book on disability and that is what stands it out from anything else. It is so unique that people who buy comics for entertainment need to purchase this, as it will tell them something about life.
We ran a Twitter poll which showed that 3 in 4 people want to see more inclusion of disability in literature
So, for National Storytelling Week, we’re working on this. We’ll be asking for better representation of disability in literature, as well as celebrating some great work that we want to see more of.
To find out more about stories at Scope, head to our Stories Hub and please get involved with our activities for National Storytelling Week.