One in five Australians live with a disability. The United Nations International Day of People with Disability (IDPwD), held on 3 December each year, aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilise support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities.
Australian books published in 2021 that are helping to achieve that aim include:
Cuckoo’s Flight by Wendy Orr, Allen & Unwin (9+)
Clio, the crippled granddaughter of Leira, the community wise woman, is highly likely to be chosen by the Lady as a blood sacrifice to ward off raiders that are approaching their village. Orr’s earlier novels, Dragonfly Song and Swallow's Dance, also feature girls living with disabilities.
The Curiosities by Zana Fraillon & Phil Lesnie, Lothian Children’s Books (picture book 6+)
Miro wakes one morning to find the world isn't quite the way he thought it was. When the Curiosities choose Miro as the one they nest on, Miro is led to discover all the marvels waiting in the shadows where no-one else looks. An allegory representing a neurodiverse experience.
Growing Up Disabled in Australia edited by Carly Finlay, Black Inc Books (YA+)
Forty writers with disability or chronic illness share their stories to present first-person experiences of people from a range of marginalised groups.
ARTS Hub Podcast: Carly Findlay on centring disability
100 Remarkable Feats of Xander Maze by Clayton Zane Comber, HarperCollins (YA)
Xander’s beloved Nanna asks him to create a list of 100 Remarkable Feats, ‘simply...list any act, small or large, that was remarkable for me [Xander] and would change my life for the better’. Xander is anxious, probably autistic, bullied at school and has no friends. Achieving even a few of the feats seems unlikely.
Paws by Kate Foster, Walker (9+)
Eleven year old Alex’s best friend is Kevin the cockapoo, although what Alex wants most of all is a friend at school. As Alex is autistic, that is harder than he ever expected.
Skin Deep by Hayley Lawrence, Scholastic (YA)
Beautiful Scarlett, permanently disfigured after a car fire, escapes to a mountain where her view on perfection is challenged by new friend and his non-verbal autistic sister.
Weekend with Oscar by Robyn Bavati, Walker (YA)
Oscar, Jamie’s younger brother, who has Downs Syndrome, leads a full life mainly due to the efforts of Mum. When Mum is suddenly called away and then doesn’t return, Jamie rises to the challenge getting Oscar to his activities and appointments.
IBBY Australia submits books for inclusion in the IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities list.
Discover further examples in the following video with Carly Findlay sharing a range of texts for different ages.
Retired librarian, member of CBCA Tasmania & IBBY Australia