July is Disability Pride month. What does that mean? Well, it is a month where people come together and celebrate, embracing disabilities as part of who they are. There are many different types of disabilities: some are physical and some are mental. Some disabilities are obvious, and others may be hidden or not easily seen. Having a month set aside gives us a chance to uplift and amplify the voices of those with disabilities.
Disability Pride month started as a single day with the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. This law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. If you want to check out the history of the law itself, told as a fascinating story, have a look at Enabling Acts, by Lennard J. Davis.
Our first book for adults, Sitting Pretty by Rebekah Taussig, comes from the perspective of someone who has a physical disability. This book is a collection of essays based on a lifetime of experiences with a paralyzed body, tackling themes of identity, accessibility, and representation. Another non-fiction book is the story of famed TED-talk speaker Temple Grandin. Thinking in Pictures: and other reports from my life with autism is about her life and her groundbreaking work as a scientist and designer of cruelty-free livestock facilities. It also describes how she overcame key disabilities through education and the support of her mother. Finally, if you like sports or autobiographies, take a look at Imperfect, the story of Jim Abbott, a one-handed pitcher who became one of the select few to pitch a no-hitter in Major League Baseball.
A fiction book that helps non-disabled folks with empathy is How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. This is a book about romantic relationships, but also about the moments that change our lives forever. Another great fiction read for this month is How Lucky by Will Leitch. In this mystery, Daniel, unable to speak or move without a wheelchair, believes he has witnessed the kidnapping of a young college student and vows to solve the crime.
For younger kids, a simple understanding of what physical disability is can be had by looking at the aptly titled Disability by Jillian Powell. Kids age 6-9 will appreciate a candid Q and A from Shane Burcaw called Not So Different. This picture book answers the questions young children ask him about his wheelchair and life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. For older kids in 4th-7th grades, Wonder by RJ Palacio, a book about a kid with a facial deformity that is starting 5th grade after being homeschooled, can teach compassion in a way few other things can. This book is also available in Book on CD and even in a large print book for adults. (I read this story as an adult and it made me tear up!) Wonder is available on DVD, too (and is rated PG) -- but, of course, I suggest reading the book first!
Finally, I want to mention that the library also has a great collection called Caring for the Caregiver. There are 8 kits (3 autism focused and 5 dementia focused). These kits are designed to help the caregiver to take care of themselves in the ways of self-care, health literacy and fun activities for the loved ones. These kits all include books, an audio disc (CD), DVDs, games, and fidgets. They are definitely a unique way the library hopes to help families.