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November 2017 Selections

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Readers, this month is one that I am extra excited about. Throughout November, we’ll be reading and discussing books on the topic of differing abilities. 

This is a topic that’s particularly close to my heart, because in my life outside of Top Shelf Text and the DBC, I work as a special education teacher. This month, we’re exploring books that feature strong, capable characters with various disabilities. In previewing these texts, our team felt strongly that these are books that celebrate these characters capabilities and the unique perspective that they bring to these narratives.

One thing that I want to stress for your discussions this month: person-first language. A disability should not define a person. So this month, as we discuss these characters and the connections we can make to our real lives, I encourage you to use person-first language. In practice, it’s pretty simple. Instead of referring to someone as “disabled,” we want to instead say “a person with a disability.” Instead of referring to a character as autistic, we want to say that the character has autism, or that a character is on the autism spectrum. This simple switch in our language surrounding disabilities is incredibly important. You can find some more examples of person-first language here:

Once again have a choice of three titles, plus a selection of picture books. 

REMINDER: You do not need to read all three titles! Choose the titles that work as the best entry point for you.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you choose to purchase a book through an affiliate link, the DBC is granted a small commission at no additional cost to you. These commissions help to offset the cost of operations. Thank you!


Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

We want to thank Lindsay Williams, who you may know on Instagram as @bibbidibobbidibookworm. As a member of the differing abilities community and a mom to an adorable, spunky child on the autism spectrum, Lindsay helped us to preview many titles for this month. The book is written from the perspective of the titular character, an eighth-grade girl who is on the autism spectrum. The author, Benjamin Ludwig, felt inspired to write this book after he and his wife adopted a teenager who has autism. RuthAnn describes it as fast-paced and emotionally compelling. 


Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

From Alexandra’s review of Love and First Sight this past summer:

Born completely blind, sixteen year old Will is embarking on his most challenging endeavor yet: public high school. As he gains confidence in his ability to navigate his new world, Will finds himself with a fantastic group of new friends and a potential love interest, Cecily. Everything seems to be going swimmingly in his new life, especially since he has been given the chance to have an experimental surgery that will give him his eyesight. What Will soon realizes is that seeing is a language of its own, and it holds its own secrets. Love and First Sight mixes light-hearted teen romance with a thought-provoking perspective on how we see the world and how it sees us. (You can read the whole review here.)

P.S. If you’re not usually a fan of YA, I’m with you. Beyond the minimally cheesy romance elements, I feel like I learned a lot from this book and the perspective I’ve gained has been really valuable.


El Deafo by Cece Bell


Our middle grade pick this month is our first graphic novel and certainly the most well-known book on this list. We are so excited to read and discuss it with you! Many of our moderators read this title while we previewed books for November and we all agree it’s a five-star read. El Deafo was a Newbery Honor Book in 2015 and is a memoir of the author’s experience of life with a hearing impairment.