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On March 12, 1990, more than 1,000 people marched from the White House to the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress pass the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The activists also went as far as to put their mobility aids aside to protest the inaccessibility of public spaces. More than 100 were arrested, including wheelchair users. Four months later, the ADA was finally signed into law on July 26, 1990. Since that day, July has been recognized as Disability Pride Month. It is a time to celebrate positive steps toward a more inclusive society, and to honor and amplify voices from the disability community, both past and present.
With a lot of resources floating around right now, it is also a great time to create a reading list to keep reading disability pride books all year long. (Feminist Book Club has been highlighting disability pride books, figures and movements all month over on TikTok. It would be a great idea to stop by there and save the videos as a resource moving forward!) Personally, disability literature is an area for growth on my TBR. After coming across a lot of great recommendations lately, here are some books I plan to read for Disability Pride Month and beyond:
Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally by Emily Ladau
Demystifying Disability looks like the first stop for anyone looking to learn to be a better ally for the disability community. It is a practical and intersectional handbook on the important disability issues that we all need to know about. Disability rights advocate, speaker and writer Emily Ladau has been a champion for the disability community since childhood when she appeared on Sesame Street at ten years old to talk to other children about her life with a physical disability. She offers a wealth of information in this book, including some goals that we should all aim for: ensuring that accessibility becomes standard practice, and appreciating disability history and identity. There’s also a great resource list at the end, complete with a further reading section!
A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen
I’m a big history nerd, and I love exploring historically marginalized peoples perspectives of U.S. history– super contrary to what we’re taught in school. My main focus for the past year has been on Indigenous voices (pulling from Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous People’s History of the United States). This summer/fall, I plan to pick up A Disability History of the United States. A historian and author who specializes in disability studies, Nielsen deep-dives into American disability history from pre-1492 to the present day. Part of her focus is also on how beliefs about disability have shaped the American experience. This book will also be invaluable to me as a home educator planning a new academic year.
Breathe and Count Back from Ten by Natalia Sylvester
Breathe and Count Back from Ten is a YA novel that follows Verónica, a Peruvian-American teen with hip dysplasia. After multiple surgeries to manage her disability, swimming is the best form of rehabilitation and Verónica spends a lot of time in the pool. She longs to audition to work as a mermaid in a local underwater attraction, but knows that her parents would not support it, just as they do not support her relationship with her very first boyfriend. This book seems to be a coming-of-age all about finding agency and safety in one’s own body, and if that’s not beautiful then I don’t know what is. After reading Everyone Knows You Go Home and Running by Natalia Sylvester, enjoying both, and listening to Natalia’s conversation with Natalia for the podcast, I know this one is going to be great!
The Chance to Fly by Stacy Davidowitz & Ali Stroker
Nat Beacon is a thirteen year old girl who uses a wheelchair and has multiple passions in her life. She loves her dog, her best friend, being on a wheelchair racing team called the Zoomers, and musicals. When her family moves to a new city, Nat is presented with a chance to be cast in a theater production at school. Despite being nervous about the lack of representation of wheelchair users like herself in theater, she auditions and makes it! Things go smoothly, that is, until Nat is presented with a major challenge shortly before showtime. The Chance to Fly is a middle grade novel about defying expectations and staying true to what you love. I’m definitely going to read this one with my kids.