Books with disabled characters help us all

Girl reading book while laying on grass

‘Non-disabled children can benefit from encountering disabled characters,’ says Dr Rebecca Butler. Photograph: Getty

I wholeheartedly agree with Rachel Shenton and Julia Donaldson that young disabled readers benefit from encountering disabled characters in the stories they read (Show disabled people in stories, authors urge on World Book Day, 7 March).

I would also add that non-disabled children can benefit from encountering disabled characters, leading them to take a more informed and positive view of people with impairments.

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) stages a biennial event designed to promote such books. IBBY has 48 national or regional branches. Each branch is invited to submit a list of books promoting disability. The best such books are included in the international list. The international adjudication is conducted for historical reasons in Canada.

Since its inception the IBBY list has attracted an increasing number of publishers to submit the work of a growing range of authors. Rachael Lucas’s The State of Grace and Proud to be Deaf by Ava Beese, Lilli Beese and Nick Beese are outstanding examples of UK entrants for the list.

We hope in future years to offer an even more varied list of works. There could be more books with disabled characters who are adult but not exclusively disabled by old age. Young readers need to be reminded that disabled children can grow up to lead useful and satisfying lives.

I was the project leader in the UK for the 2019 list. I am a full-time wheelchair user.
Dr Rebecca Butler
Barnes, London

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