A collage of children's books in different colors.

BIG Book List (KS1-4): Discovering Disabled or Neurodiverse Characters

SLS UKReading

Subject: A list of fiction titles with disabled or neurodiverse characters

Focus: Fiction titles 

Age group: KS1 – 4 

Synopsis: A range  of popular fiction titles including a synopsis  that have characters who are disabled or neurodiverse.

Nina Simon

Nina Simon
Redbridge SLS

Librarian’s view:

Teachers sometimes ask me for titles where children with disabilities or neurodiversity can see themselves in characters in the books they read, or to support inclusivity in the classroom.   Hopefully this list will help teachers and school librarians find some quality and popular texts covering Key stages 1 to 4.

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Titles Suitable for Key Stage 1

The book's cover features amazing disabled characters and neurodiverse individuals.

by Steve Antony

A young wheelchair user tells all the fun things that he and his pet dragon get up to and like to do together. They laugh, they sing, they dance, they snooze. They are both amazing just like everyone else!
(Physical Disability)

Can neurodiverse characters ski?

Can Bears Ski?
by Raymond Atrobus

Boy Bear cannot hear Dad Bear coming to wake him up in the morning but he can feel the floor vibrate with his heavy footsteps. He can only grasp little bits of what his teacher says to him at school. He cannot catch what his friends are laughing at. And, all the time, Boy Bear keeps hearing the question, “Can Bears ski?” What does it mean?  With the support of Dad Bear, Boy Bear visits an audiologist and, eventually, he gets hearing aids. Suddenly, he understands the question everyone has been asking him: “CAN YOU HEAR ME?”  Raymond draws on his own experience to show how isolating it can be for a deaf child in a hearing world.

Aaron Slater, a disabled illustrator, discovers and celebrates neurodiverse characters in Andrea Beasley Roberts' work.

Aaron Slater Illustrator
by Andrea Beaty

Aaron Slater loves listening to stories and dreams of one day writing them himself. But when it comes to reading, the letters just look like squiggles to him, and it soon becomes clear he struggles more than his peers. When his teacher asks each child in the class to write a story, Aaron can’t get a single word down. He is sure his dream of being a storyteller is out of reach…until inspiration strikes, and Aaron finds a way to spin a tale in a way that is uniquely his.

You're so amazing book cover featuring neurodiverse characters.

You’re So Amazing
by James Catchpole

One-legged Joe is “amazing”. He knows this because wherever he goes people always tell him he’s amazing. Amazing for sliding down the slide, for kicking a ball. even walking to get an ice cream, or even just eating an ice cream. Of course, being Amazing Joe is better than being Poor Joe. But Joe doesn’t want to be Amazing Joe OR Poor Joe. He’s happiest when he’s just Joe.
(Physical Disability)

Neurodiverse bear shaped by Doug Cooper.

Bear Shaped
by Dawn Coulter-Cruttenden

Jack and Bear were best friends. They did everything together. They went everywhere together. But one day, Bear just disappeared…  A beautiful story of love, loss, and moving forward. Inspired by the true story of Jack and his beloved Bear.

Delightfully different characters by Elizabeth Dale, including the neurodiverse and disabled.

Delightfully Different Dilly
by Elizabeth Dale

When Dilly is born, her parents think she is perfect – from the top of her head to the bottom of her foot. The other babies notice that Dilly is different but soon accept her and love her different ways of doing things. The adults aren’t sure though – they love how all the penguins are the same. Can the younger generation convince their parents that there’s space for Dilly? And maybe that positive change can be a good thing?  A charming and touching story – Dilly is a delightful character with a strong voice and a great tale of acceptance and change.
(Physical Disability)

Freddie and the Fairy, featuring neurodiverse characters.

Freddie and the Fairy
by Julia Donaldson

Freddie is desperate for a pet, so when he rescues Bessie-Belle and she offers to grant his wishes he knows just what to ask for. The only problem is that Bessie-Belle can’t hear very well, and Freddie tends to mumble. Whatever can they do? Luckily the Fairy Queen is on hand to explain.

The Zoo Inside Me
by Ruth Doyle

Sometimes we feel brave as a lion or shy like a mouse, and the zoo inside our heads reflects how we behave on the outside.  You can’t see it, but this little boy is part mischievous monkey, part curious llama, and part chameleon, hiding from the world. Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough room for our jumbling feelings, but the zoo inside all of us makes us who we are – reaching out to the world from the part you can’t see.

The cover of Cinnamon by Neil Gaiman featuring neurodiverse characters.

by Neil Gaiman

Once there was a princess. Her name was Cinnamon. Her eyes were made of pearls, which meant that she was blind, and for reasons her parents could not fathom, Cinnamon did not talk.  They offered great riches to anyone who could teach her to speak but nothing worked.  Until a mighty tiger prowled into their palace, and everything changed.

Discovering the up and down journey of a neurodiverse mum.

Up and Down Mum
by Summer Macon

Living with Mum is a bit like a roller coaster ride. At times, she is excited and full of energy, but at others, she is tired and withdrawn. But she’s always my mum, and we’re sharing the ride.  For children who grow up in the care of a parent who has bipolar disorder, life can be filled with anxiety and uncertainty. With the aid of a clear and simple information spread, this story helps us to understand the causes of bipolar disorder and how we can learn to live with someone who has it.  Developed in close consultation with families who have a parent with bipolar disorder, and created in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust.
(Bipolar Disorder)

Mesha makes friends with characters who are neurodiverse and disabled by Tom Fermal.

Meesha Makes Friends
by Tom Percival

Meesha loves making things … but there’s one thing she finds difficult to make – friends. She doesn’t know quite what to do, what to say or when to say it, and she struggles reading and responding to social cues. But one day she discovers that she has a special talent that will help her to navigate challenging social situations and help her to make friends.

Best buddies is a heartwarming novel by Lynn Floyd that explores the deep bond between characters, including those who are neurodiverse or disabled.

Best Buddies
by Lynn Plourde

Best Buddies introduces a boy-and-dog duo who are BEST FRIENDS and who do EVERYTHING together! So how will they manage being apart when the boy heads to school for the first time?  A sweet, inspiring story that will ease concerns about the first day of school and other big changes for kids.  A look at how a boy with Down’s syndrome and his loyal pet find the perfect way to feel close even when they can’t be together.
(Downs Syndrome)

Titles Suitable for Lower Key Stage 2

Cyber cat rise of neurodiverse characters in Parsons Road gang.

Cyborg Cat Series
by Ade Adepitan

When Ade moves to London from Nigeria, he knows things will be different, but nothing can prepare him for the ups and downs of his Parsons Road adventures. Ade doesn’t always feel welcome in his new community; fitting in is hard, especially as he looks different to everyone else.  But Ade is brave and takes on the school bullies, surprising himself and the kids on his new street. His heroic acts and super football skills quickly help him make new friends who will always be there for him.
(Wheelchair User)

I am a neurodiverse individual named Lenny Brown, discovering the world through the lens of disability.

I am Lenny Brown
by Dan Freedman

Lenny Brown is eight years old and doesn’t talk. Except to his mum and his dog, Rocky.  There’s more than one way to find your voice…  At school, everyone understands that Lenny is different, but when he and his mum have to move across town, it means a new start for Lenny, and lots of new challenges.  With the help of a motivational diary, a football and a lot of determination, can Lenny forge a new future for himself and his family?

Discovering the Rainbow Magic - a Neurodiverse Fairy of Hope.

Hope the Welcome Fairy
by Daisy Meadows

Hope the Welcome Fairy helps everyone to make friends and find a place where they fit in. When Jack Frost wants Hope’s magic to himself, he doesn’t just steal her magical objects but kidnaps Hope as well! Thankfully, Rachel and Kirsty have made two new friends, Gracie and Khadijah, who have the perfect plan to save Hope. But will they manage to rescue Hope before everyone feels left out and lonely?  Can they rescue Hope from Jack Frost’s icy lair?
(Physical Disability)

Toto the ninja cat and the great kitty escape features neurodiverse characters.

Toto the Ninja Cat Series
by Dermot O’Leary

Toto the cat and her brother Silver live footloose and fancy-free in a townhouse in London. Toto is almost totally blind, and learned to trust her senses from a ninja cat-master who taught her back in Italy where they were born. By day, Toto and Silver seem to be ordinary cats, but by night, they love to have adventures!  One evening, news reaches Toto that a king cobra has escaped from London Zoo! Together with help from a very posh rat and two hungry tigers, Toto and Silver must investigate. Can they find the giant snake, before it’s too late? 

Lizzie and Lucky discover the mystery of the missing puppies in "Lizzie and Lucky: The Mystery of the Missing Puppies" by Megan Rix.

The Mystery of the Missing Puppies
by Megan Rix

Lizzie is desperate for a dog. In order to convince her parents to get one, she has to come up with 101 reasons why she needs one. Lizzie is a master at making lists, so thinking of 101 reasons is going to be easy! Especially as she is deaf and could train one to be her hearing dog. But as Lizzie begins compiling her list, she witnesses an adorable puppy being snatched away and put into a van by a mysterious-looking man. Can Lizzie solve the case – and maybe find herself a loyal friend at the same time…?

A neurodiverse character in the jam factory.

An Alien in the Jam Factory
by Chrissie Sains

Scooter McLay’s cerebral palsy affects how quickly he can move his body, but his hyper-creative brain is a constant fizz of brilliant ideas. He spends every day inventing top secret recipes and machines for his family’s jam factory. There’s just one thing missing … a pet, to share it all with. Or better still, a friend. When a tiny alien named Fizzbee crashes through the factory window, she might just be the answer. Now it’s all hands on deck, as they team up to save the factory from dastardly neighbour Daffy Dodgy.
(Cerebral Palsy)

"The Treasure Hunters" by Lisa Thompson features neurodiverse characters in an enthralling adventure.

The Treasure Hunters
by Lisa Thompson

When lonely Vincent is forced to go on an outdoor activity weekend with three other kids from his class, he’s counting the seconds until he can escape home. But one of his classmates is hiding a secret: she’s convinced there’s pirate treasure buried deep within a nearby mountain. Suddenly, this boring trip becomes an exciting adventure! But a thief is hot on the trail, intent on stealing the loot for themselves… can the Treasure Hunters work together to stop them?

A captivating book cover showcasing neurodiverse characters.

The Ear Fairy
by W. G. White

Mia and Jonathan are best friends, even if they’re only pen pals. When Jonathan’s class comes to visit, Mia is determined to make sure he has the best time ever! Only Jonathan’s hearing aids go missing, and they believe it must be the tricksy Ear Fairy, sister to the Tooth Fairy, who has taken them!  Can Mia and Jonathan find the missing hearing aids before Jonathan has to return home?

Titles Suitable for Upper Key Stage 2

Discovering the neurodiverse characters on the cover of Koku Akabi and the Heart of Midnight.

Koku Akanbi and the Heart of Midnight
by Maria Motunrayo Adebisi

After cynical thirteen year-old orphan Koku accidentally releases a demon on a trip to the British Museum, his uncle sends him to Olori, the West African land of origins, for the summer. Cursed with a weird name and an illness to match, Koku thinks life can’t get any worse. His sickle cell anaemia has always left him feeling unwanted and powerless, and now he’s being parcelled off to a country he barely remembers.  But when Koku arrives in Olori, he finds himself in a land of endless sun and powerful magical tribes – and on the wrong side of a war. The ruling Ogún tribe is trying to destroy the night, and the magical creatures who need it, forever. As the last living descendent of the darkness-controlling Olókun tribe, Koku is the only one who can stop them.  Accompanied by Moremi, a martial artist with an anger problem, and Osoosi, a shapeshifter who spends half of her time as a hyena, Koku must venture into the dangerous jungle of Jujuland to master his powers, find the powerful talisman called the Heart of Midnight and restore Night to Olori. But he’ll have to move fast, because a teenaged assassin with a soul-swallowing sword is on his tail… and if the night disappears, then so will he.
(Sickle Cell Anaemia)

Neurodiverse Characters Discovering the Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton.

The Secret of Haven Point
by Lisette Auton

I was Haven Point’s first Wreckling, but I certainly wasn’t the last. There are forty-two of us now, not including the mermaids. When you’re a Wreckling, you mainly spend your days squabbling, eating and planning adventures. Oh, and Wrecklings also carry out wreckings, which is how we got our name…  Washed up as a baby beside a remote lighthouse and raised by a mermaid, Alpha Lux was the first foundling at Haven Point. Now the lighthouse is a ramshackle home for any disabled person who needs somewhere to belong. Looting from passing ships to make a living, they call themselves the Wrecklings, and for the children of Haven Point life is spent adventuring on the wild shore (and getting into trouble with the grown-ups).  But when Alpha spots a strange light up on the headland, she realises that her beloved family are in danger of being discovered by Outsiders.  With their home under threat, the Wrecklings must decide what kind of future they want…and what they’re willing to do to get it.
(Physical Disability)

Two neurodiverse children standing in front of a blue background.

The Space We’re In
by Katya Balen

Frank is ten. He likes cottage pie and football and cracking codes. Max is five. He eats only Quavers and some colours are too bright for him and if he has to wear a new T-shirt he melts down down down.  Sometimes Frank wishes Mum could still do huge paintings of stars and asteroids like she used to, but since Max was born she just doesn’t have time.  When tragedy hits Frank and Max’s lives like a comet, can Frank piece together a universe in which he and Max aren’t light years apart?

A neurodiverse book cover featuring disabled characters.

A Different Sort of Normal
by Abigail Balfe

Hi! My name is Abigail, and I’m autistic. But I didn’t know I was autistic until I was an adult-sort-of-person*.  This is my true story of growing up in the confusing ‘normal’ world, all the while missing some Very Important Information about myself.  There’ll be scary moments involving toilets and crowded trains, heart-warming tales of cats and pianos, and funny memories including my dad and a mysterious tub of ice cream. Along the way you’ll also find some Very Crucial Information about autism.  If you’ve ever felt different, out of place, like you don’t fit in… this book is for you. 

"What Katy Did" by Susan Coleridge explores the journey of a neurodiverse character navigating life's challenges alongside her disabled father.

What Katy Did
by Susan Coolidge

Katy Carr intends to be beautiful and beloved and as sweet as an angel one day. For now, though, her hair is forever in a tangle, her dress is always torn and she doesn’t care at all for being called ‘good’.  But then a terrible accident happens and Katy must find courage to remember her daydreams and the delightful plans she once schemed; for when she is grown up she wants to do something grand…
(Physical Disability)

The neurodiverse characters of Runaway Robot grace the cover.

Runaway Robot
by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

In a near future, a boy coming to terms with losing his hand in an accident discovers a robot, called Eric, in lost property at the airport  Eric has lost one leg and half his memory. He’s super strong – but super clumsy. He’s convinced that he’s the latest technology, when he’s actually nearly a hundred years old and ready for the scrap heap.  Can Alfie find a way to save Eric from destruction – before Eric destroys everything around him?
(Physical Disability)

Frankie's World" by Aditie Dooley explores the lives of disabled and neurodiverse characters in a creative and thought-provoking manner.

Frankie’s World
by Aoife Dooley

Frankie knows she’s not like anyone else in her class: she’s different, but she can’t quite figure out why. Is it the new freckle on her nose, or the fact she’s small for her age? Or that she has to go to the hospital sometimes? Everyone else seems to think she’s weird too, and they make fun of her at school.  Frankie’s dad left when she was a baby – maybe he was different too? It would explain why she always feels like an alien. So she and her best-friend Sam, embark on a mission to track him down. Graphic novel.

Storm Horse by Jane Elson is a heartfelt novel that delicately tackles the experiences of neurodiverse characters. Filled with compassion and understanding, this poignant story beautifully portrays the challenges faced by disabled

Storm Horse
by Jane Elson

For Daniel Margate, life is muddled because everything moves: letters, numbers, even classrooms sometimes. Daniel is dyslexic and most of the time, school just doesn’t make sense. He’s in the bottom reading group at school with other kids who are trying to make sense of it all. There’s Akin who can’t sit still for more than two minutes and is almost always getting into trouble, sports star Ste is recovering from a car accident that left him learning how to walk again and Molly-May’s school uniform never fits and is a regular at the local foodbank.  But when a mystery horse gallops into their lives one stormy evening, it changes everything. Desperate to keep him safe they form the Secret Horse Society and vow to protect this amazing creature. Inspired by stories of the great racehorse Seabiscuit, they name him Jammie Dodger and find they when they work together, nothing seems impossible. Even the Big Read Off at school. They just need to keep their new horse friend a secret.

Discovering the boy who flew by Fleur Hitchcock, a neurodiverse protagonist who is disabled.

The Boy Who Flew
by Fleur Hitchcock

Nathan Wilde dreams of flight. When his friend, Mr Chen, is murdered, Athan must rescue the flying machine they were building together and stop it falling into the wrong hands. But keeping the machine safe puts his family in terrible danger. What will Athan choose – flight or family?
(Physical Disability)

The amazing neurodiverse Edie Eckhart, discovering the incredible abilities of a disabled individual, portrayed by Rosie Jones.

The Amazing Edie Eckhart
by Rosie Jones

Hello! My name is Edie Eckhart and I’m eleven years old. I’m a little bit different. I have a disability called cerebral palsy, so I talk slowly and fall over a lot. It’s never really bothered me because I’ve never known anything else.  Edie Eckhart is Excited with a capital E to start secondary school with her best friend Oscar – the fish to her chips, the bananas to her custard. But when she and Oscar are put into different tutor groups on their first day, Edie is devastated. Who will play secret hangman with her in class? Who will she eat sausage rolls with?  But while she’s plotting her reunion with Oscar, she accidentally gets cast as the lead in the school play. As Edie discovers a passion for performance, she also finds new friendships, talents, and dreams. After all, it’s easy to shine on and off the stage when you’re Amazing with a capital A.
(Cerebral Palsy)

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks
by Emily Kenny

Alice Tonks desperately wants to make friends at boarding school but, being autistic, she’s always found it hard to fit in. Then she discovers she is a “switcher” and can talk to animals. As she starts to explore her newfound abilities, to her horror she learns that creatures are going missing. Only Alice holds the key to solving the mystery and finding the culprit, but she’ll need to harness her full powers first. And to do that she’ll need a bit of help from her new friends – both human and animal.

I got this book by Cara Malley featuring neurodiverse characters.

I Got This
by Cara Mailey

When a mega-famous pop group announces a competition for fans to be part of their next music video, Erin decides to go for it. She wants to show her younger brother that in life, there are no limits – even if you don’t look like most other kids. But making an audition video is proving more difficult than Erin expected; it’s almost like her best friend is trying to ruin it! And when an opportunity comes up that might increase her chances, Erin begins to wonder: can she stay true to herself and pursue her dreams?  Erin’s character is inspired by co-author Cara Mailey, who has achondroplasia (the most common form of dwarfism).

A neurodiverse spark by Ellie McColl featuring disabled characters.

A Kind of Spark
by Elle McNicoll

A kind of spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there’s more to the story of these ‘witches’, just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard?

One of the neurodiverse characters in "Cosima Unafraid" fearlessly reaches for the stars on its cover, challenging societal biases towards the disabled.

Cosima Unfortunate Steals a Star
by Laura Noakes

Cosima Unfortunate has spent all her life at the Home for Unfortunate Girls – a school where any disabled children, or children deemed different, are sent, whether their families want it or not. It is there that she meets her friends – Pearl, Mary and Diya – and they start to practise mini heists involving the theft of cakes, biscuits and other sweet goodies.  But when Cos finds out that Lord Francis Fitzroy, the explorer behind the Empire Exhibition, is planning to adopt them, she and her friends plot the biggest heist of their life. Instead of fondant fancies, they’re going to steal Fitzroy’s prized tiara, containing the legendary Star Diamond of India! But, as they start preparing for the day, Cosima finds herself drawing ever closer to discovering the one secret she’s always wanted to know – the truth about her parents…
(Physical Disability)

The wonder of disabled and neurodiverse characters standing up when born.

by R.J. Palacio

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school.  All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all?
(Facial Abnormality)

The distance between neurodiverse me and the cherry tree.

The Distance between me and the Cherry Tree
by Paola Peretti

Mafalda is a nine-year-old girl who knows one thing: some time in the next six months her sight will fail completely. Can Mafalda find a way through a seemingly dark future and still go to school, play football and look after her beloved cat?  With the help of her family, and her friends, Mafalda needs to discover the things that will be important to her when her sight has failed. A moving, empowering tale of courage and determination that will inspire young and old.

       Spylark by Danny Rullander is a captivating book about discovering hidden talents in neurodiverse individuals. With a focus on disabled characters, it explores the unique strengths and abilities they possess

by Danny Rurlander

Ever since the accident, Tom’s struggled with his mobility.  But he has a secret escape: Skylark, his drone. Through this technology, he can fly above his Lake District home, exploring his world from a totally different perspective.  But when he stumbles upon a terrorist plot, he knows no one will believe him. Maggie and Joel, a sister and brother on holiday in his aunt’s cottage, are the only ones who can help… but can they stop the plot in time?
(Mobility Issues)

The disabled boy who made everyone laugh.

The Boy Who Made Everyone Laugh
by Helen Rutter

Billy Plimpton is an eleven-year-old boy with a big dream. He wants to be a stand-up comedian when he grows up: delivering pinpoint punch-lines and having audiences hang on his every hilarious word. A tough career for anyone, but surely impossible for Billy, who has a stammer. How will he find his voice, if his voice won’t let him speak?

"The Goldfish Boy" by Elisa Thomson explores a cast of characters, including a neurodiverse and disabled protagonist.

The Goldfish Boy
by Lisa Thompson

Twelve-year-old Matthew is trapped in his bedroom by crippling OCD, spending most of his time staring out of his window as the inhabitants of Chestnut Close go about their business. Until the day he is the last person to see his next door neighbour’s toddler, Teddy, before he goes missing.  Matthew must turn detective and unravel the mystery of Teddy’s disappearance – with the help of a brilliant cast of supporting characters.

The Boy with the Butterfly Mind" by Victoria Williamson is a captivating novel that explores the experiences of neurodiverse characters.

The Boy with the Butterfly Mind
by Victoria Williamson

Jamie Lee just wants to be normal but his ADHD isn’t making it easy. If only he could control his butterfly mind then he’d have friends, be able to keep out of trouble, live with his mum and not be sent to stay with his dad.  Elin Watts just wants to be perfect. If she could be the best student and daughter possible, then maybe her dad would leave his new family and come back to Glasgow to live with Elin and her mum, happily ever after.  When Jamie and Elin’s families blend, the polar opposites of chaotic Jamie and ordered Elin collide. As their lives spiral out of control, Jamie and Elin discover that they’re actually more alike than they’d admit. Maybe there’s no such thing as normal, or perfect.

Titles Suitable for Key Stage 3

"Sing if you can't dance" by Alexia Cassale introduces neurodiverse characters who are discovering their hidden talents.

Sing if You Can’t Dance
by Alexia Casale

Ven has her future all planned out. Her dance group is going places and so is she…Then she collapses. On stage.  In hospital, Ven discovers that she has a medical condition – one that threatens to ruin everything. No more dancing…walking is challenging enough. But she doesn’t want your pity. Ven is determined to have a big, exciting life. Sure, her future might be different, but it’s not over…Because if you can’t dance, you can always sing!  Refreshing, uplifting and original, Sing if you Can’t Dance is the unforgettable story of a teenager living life on her own terms.
(Physical Disability)

"Finding Phoebe" by Gavin Extence is a captivating novel that revolves around the lives of neurodiverse characters.

Finding Phoebe
by Gavin Extence

Phoebe is autistic. She prefers to stay in her comfort zone: walking her dog, writing fantasy fiction, surviving school with as few incidents as possible.  When her best (and only) friend rebels and gets a secret boyfriend, Phoebe reluctantly agrees to cover for her. Before long, Phoebe’s dealing with all sorts of things she’d rather not, like deception, fashionable jackets, and the bewildering politics of the school chess club. Breaking the rules has never been Phoebe’s thing, but as events take a seriously unexpected turn, she realises there’s more to her than she ever imagined…

Can you feel the noise by Stewart Foster is a captivating novel that explores the lives of neurodiverse characters navigating their experiences and challenges.

Can You Feel the Noise
by Stewart Foster

Life is going well for Sophie. She’s getting by at school, has some pretty awesome friends, and their band have made it through to the semifinals of the Battle of the Bands competition.  But when Sophie wakes up completely deaf one morning, the life she once knew seems like a distant memory. With lessons replaced by endless hospital appointments, and conversations now an exercise in lip-reading, Sophie grows quieter and quieter. Until she discovers the vibrations of sound through an old set of drums and wonders whether life onstage is actually still in reach.  Drawing on the author’s own hearing impairment, Can You Feel the Noise? is a deeply personal and moving story that will stay with you long after reading.

The neurodiverse characters in "The Pieces of Ourselves" by Maggie Harcourt showcase a beautifully inclusive portrayal of disabled individuals.

The Pieces of Ourselves
by Maggie Harcourt

Flora doesn’t do people”, not since the Incident that led to her leaving school midway through her GCSEs. The Incident that led to her being diagnosed with bipolar II. The Incident that left her in pieces. Until Hal arrives. He’s researching a story about a missing World War I soldier, and he wants…
(Bipolar Disorder)

Neurodiverse Characters by Penny Jolson.

Things the Eye Can’t See
by Penny Joelson

Libby is visually impaired but that doesn’t stop her being a keen photographer. She loves going out walking with her guide dog, Samson, and taking photos, but her family worry about her – and Libby wishes she could be more independent.  The day that the boy gives her a secret note to deliver changes everything. Because soon after, the boy goes missing, and no one – except Libby and her new friend Kyle – thinks there is anything to worry about.  Libby knows there’s no way her parents would let her get involved. But what if she’s the only person who can solve the mystery?
(Visually Impaired)

"I Have No Secrets" by Penny Jolson is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of neurodiverse characters.

I Have No Secrets
by Penny Joelson

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can’t tell anyone.  Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone.  But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change…
(Cerebral Palsy)

Discovering disabled and neurodiverse individuals, this cover art showcases the struggles of carrying emotional baggage.

Sh!t Bag
by Xena Knox

When sixteen-year-old Freya collapses and wakes up to discover a surgeon has given her a temporary ileostomy bag, her dreams of the perfect summer go down the toilet. Suddenly, it’s goodbye, Marbella and hello, poo camp when her parents send her to a specialist camp in the Scottish Highlands for children with bowel disease.  With the help of her campmate Chris, Freya slowly learns to live with her bag, but, back in the real world, she is determined to get her old life back and prove to her classmates that she’s more than just ‘Shit bag’ by winning back her ex-boyfriend, Lockie.  But as Freya’s feelings for Chris grow, sh!t is sure to hit the fan, and Freya could end up with only her bag by her side…
(Bowel Disease)

The diverse and inclusive cover of all the pieces of me, featuring neurodiverse and disabled characters.

All the Pieces of Me
by Libby Scott

Year 9 can be tough for everyone, but for Tally it feels even tougher.  Everything seems to be changing as she and her friends get older.  Make-up, boys, social media, GCSE prep – why is it all starting to feel so different?  Tally has always known that being autistic means some things are harder for her than they are for other people. But becoming a teenager has left Tally feeling like she has no idea who she even is anymore…

War of the Wind by Victoria Williamson is an enthralling tale that explores the lives of characters who are both disabled and neurodiverse.

War of the Wind
by Victor Williamson

Struggling to make sense of his new life and resenting having to attend the ‘special class’ at his local high school, he begins to notice strange changes that take place when a new wind farm appears off the island’s coast.  Soon it becomes clear the islanders are acting odd. In a few short weeks they become irritable, bad tempered and unpredictable. As the strange behaviour spreads to the children, acts of violence threaten to tear the community apart. Unaffected by the changes due to his hearing loss, Max discovers that a sinister scientist, Doctor Ashwood, and the government are using the wind turbines to test a new soundwave weapon on the island population.  With the help of three school friends with additional support needs, Max must find a way to shut down the wind farm’s signals and stop Doctor Ashwood’s plan before the out-of-control experiment has tragic consequences.

Titles Suitable for Key Stage 4

"What the world doesn't see" by Mel Darron is a compelling narrative that focuses on neurodiverse characters, shedding light on the often overlooked experiences of disabled individuals.

What the World Doesn’t See
by Mel Darbon

Maudie and Jake’s family is falling to pieces – their mum’s been struggling with her grief since they lost Dad and one night she vanishes.  On the run in Cornwall, Jake and Maudie each find something they hadn’t expected – freedom and love. But can they find Mum and a way to heal together?
(Autism/Mental Health)

"The Boy Who Steals Houses" by C.G. Drews is a magnificent story that delves into the lives of neurodiverse characters.

The Boy Who Steals Houses
by C.G. Drews

Betrayed and abused by everyone who should have taken care of them, Sam and his brother are lost souls. They have a wild, hopeless, precious dream – to make a home for themselves.  Then Sam meets a girl whose laugh is a burst of stardust. But betrayed people have the hardest fists, and Sam has a secret that is about to catch up with him.

Read between the lines to delve into the intricate world of neurodiverse characters in Marcus Duffy's compelling narrative.

Read Between the Lines
by Malcolm Duffy

Ryan is smart, uncool, well-behaved, and dyslexic.  The two develop an unlikely friendship.  As Ryan helps Tommy to read, a secret is revealed that will change their lives forever.  Prize-winning Malcolm Duffy’s third novel explores the joys and challenges of dyslexia in a story full of his hallmark heart and humour. For 12+.

The neurodiverse and disabled characters in "The Good Hawk" by Joseph Elliott are brilliantly portrayed.

The Good Hawk
by Joseph Elliott

Agatha is a good Hawk. She patrols the sea wall, and does it with pride, no matter what anyone else says about her right to be there. But when disaster strikes and her clan is brutally swept away in the longboats of an invading deamhain horde, she must leave the island and team up with the only other survivors – Jaime, a skinny teenage Angler who is afraid of the sea, and Lileas, a young girl from a rival tribe – to find a way of rescuing the only family they have ever known.  Their journey will take them from the Isle of Skye across the haunted Scotian mainland, where ravenous wildwolves, an abandoned queen and a horde of murderous shadows lie waiting for them.  NOTE: Contains violent scenes including deaths. Agatha is a character with Down’s syndrome and around half of the book is narrated from her perspective. In the world of these characters there isn’t a word for her condition but others react to her ‘difference’, ‘what is wrong with her? etc’ and at one point one character states that if she had been born as part of his own tribe, she would have been killed at birth. She is presented positively throughout and has an active, crucial role in the events of the story.
(Downs Syndrome)

Discovering neurodiverse talent in Disabled individuals and showcasing their true potential, "In her element" by Jamila Gavan captures the essence of empowerment and celebrates the unique abilities within this community.

In Her Element
by Jamila Gavin

Faced with a whole new life far away from home, Sophie finds it hard to make friends – until a shared passion for water helps someone else come to terms with their disability.

Discovering Neurodiverse Perspectives by Mike Lucas.

What We All Saw
by Mike Lucas

Witches only exist in stories. Everyone knows that. But what if the stories are real? FOUR FRIENDS. FOUR TRUTHS. ONE NIGHTMARE.  If you wander into the wood…If you hear scratching sounds from the Old Quarry…If you go too close to the edge…WATCH. OUT.

When I was the greatest by Jason Reynolds is a captivating novel that explores the journey of discovering one's true potential, especially for neurodiverse individuals.

When I Was the Greatest
by Jason Reynolds

A lot of the stuff that gives my neighbourhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.  Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble – and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.  And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.  Yeah, it’s cool… until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be… somewhere they never should’ve been – where the people aren’t so friendly, and even less forgiving.
(Tourette’s Syndrome)