6 books that explore and embrace difference

ByTara Drinks

Embracing difference is a process of discovery. That’s true for both kids and adults. Books can help you understand and appreciate learning and thinking differences in a deeper way. 

You can find many of these books from our partners at Bookshare — a free service that provides books in accessible formats to people with dyslexia, blindness, and other barriers to reading.

The Understood team has pulled together some of our favorite reads for all ages. Here are six books about difference, recommended by our team members.

For kids

The Too Much Unicorn, by Julie Causton and Caitlin Caron

Recommended by: Amanda Morin, Director, Thought Leadership and Expertise

Eunice is always being told that she’s too much. She talks too much during movies and she dances too much in the hallway at school. But to Eunice, being “too much” is OK. With beautifully detailed illustrations, this story empowers kids to embrace being themselves.

Amanda adds: “The beauty of teaching kids it’s OK to be your authentic self is indescribable.”

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, by Sonia Sotomayor

Recommended by: Kim Greene, Editorial Director, U.org

In this picture book, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor uses her own experience as a child with diabetes to celebrate the different abilities kids have. Available on Bookshare

Kim adds: “The book includes kid-friendly descriptions of disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD and, equally important, highlights the ‘powers’ of each character. Just Ask! is a reminder that it’s never too early to start teaching kids about the power of difference.”

For tweens

Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, by Rick Riordan

Recommended by: Julie Rawe, Special Projects Editor

This five-book series follows the demigod son of Poseidon and his friends on a quest as they meet gods, battle monsters, and take on the Titans from Greek mythology. Available on Bookshare

Julie adds: “There’s a great backstory about how Riordan created this series to encourage his own son to read. And as a parent, I love knowing how his son’s learning differences helped shape the series.”

For young adults 

Disability Visibility (Adapted for Young Adults): 17 First-Person Stories for Today, by Alice Wong

Recommended by: Jennifer Spindler, Senior Manager, Ecosystem

Some disabilities are visible, while others are less apparent. But all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. Activist Alice Wong brings together this collection of essays by people with disabilities. Available on Bookshare.

Jennifer adds: “To put it very simply: The stories captivated me. Each story chipped away at my own stereotypical ideas of what living with a disability means. I felt completely moved by the diversity of the stories.” 

For adults and professionals 

A Radical Guide for Women With ADHD: Embrace Neurodiversity, Live Boldly, and Break Through Barriers, by Michelle Frank and Sari Solden 

Recommended by: Rachel Hirsh, Senior Project Manager

Written by two ADHD experts, this book helps women accept and value their differences with the help of strategies, tips, and worksheets. Readers will overcome negative self-talk, combat the shame of an ADHD diagnosis, and connect with a supportive community.

Rachel adds: “It was incredibly helpful to me as it factored in gender-based narratives that have been deeply embedded in my psyche growing up as a cisgender woman.”

The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown

Recommended by: Andy Kahn, Subject Matter Expert, Psychology and Learning

A research professor and thought leader on vulnerability and courage, Dr. Brené Brown shares 10 guideposts on the power of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. Available on Bookshare.

Andy adds: “This book has become a go-to text for helping me be more compassionate toward myself as I live with my differences and their impact. Brené Brown helps the reader to consider the importance of cultivating acceptance of your authentic self and managing the shame that inevitably comes when you fail to live up to your unrealistic and culture-bound expectations.”

Ready to dive into a book? Join our Wunder book club to find the latest read and be a part of expert-led discussions. Wunder is our community app for parents raising kids with learning and thinking differences to get support from other parents and advice from experts.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.