Rethinking Disability in Science Fiction and Fantasy

As we enter our second month of AC Library’s Summer Adventure - A Magical Journey, we’d also like to recognize July as Disability Pride Month. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, Disability Pride Month not only focuses on adaptations, challenges, and awareness, but on the contributions of disabled people as well as their identity and culture. Disability Pride challenges people to rethink how they define disability, and to see the value in the diversity that disabled people bring to our communities.  

Disability can be a fraught subject matter in storytelling, because it is often framed from able-bodied perspectives. Many stories use harmful tropes. In some, disabled characters act as inspiration points for able characters. Some show a character “overcoming” a disability, which is often used to set an unfair standard for disabled people everywhere. Other stories show that the only happy ending in a disabled storyline is for a person to be “healed.” In the past few years, disabled authors have pushed to uplift more authentic narratives in order to tell their own stories.  

While magical settings provide a perfect opportunity to erase the barriers that disabled people face, many Science Fiction and Fantasy books still utilize these harmful tropes. Author Lillie Lainoff (One for All, MacMillan Publishers) said that the lack of representation in books and movies was devastating. She said, As a teenager reckoning with a brand-new diagnosis and an unfamiliar body that persistently failed her, I started to believe there was a reason behind this lack of representation. That perhaps bodies like mine were not meant to be heroes, or love interests, or main characters. That perhaps bodies like mine were not capable of saving the world, of slaying dragons, of pulling swords from stones.” She set out to change that narrative in her female-driven Three Musketeers retelling, One for All 

One of the reasons for AC Library’s shift from Summer Reading Game to Summer Adventure is to make sure we are reaching (and valuing, and uplifting) members of all ages and abilities. This year, we wanted to make sure we uplift magical stories from disabled authors—not to celebrate them for overcoming something, but to celebrate them for exactly who they are. Below, please check out a booklist featuring authentic disabled stories. Also, if you have questions about AC Library’s accessibility, please check out our Accessibility Services page, or ask a librarian.

Happy Disability Pride!  Looking for a book with authentic (and magical) disability representation? Check out this book list from AC Library:

Find Magic in Disability Pride Month!

Check out these magical books by disabled authors that flip the script on tiresome tropes. Happy Disability Pride Month! Please check the individual book pages for age recommendations, but this list features books for 8+, mostly Middle Grade and YA titles)

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