The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is happy to join celebrations for the inaugural Disability Book Week. Disability Book Week, held from April 23-29, is a time in which individuals all over the world are invited to become more inclusive with what they read. Community members are encouraged to read a book that either features a main character with a disability or is written by an author with a disability. The goal of Disability Book Week is to open a world of literary contributions to better understand and appreciate the disabled community.
The Origin Story
Disability Book Week was created by Mary Mecham for her Texas Partners in Policymaking capstone project. Mecham was inspired to develop the project after she counted more than 2,000 books she has in her home and noticed only 16 of them featured characters with disabilities — and half of those were from the same book series.
“I read to my girls every single day of their lives. But recently, I noticed that almost none of the books I owned featured characters that resembled my girls,” Mecham states on the Disability Book Week website. “I wanted them to have a book with characters they could identify with.”
Mecham set out to create a collection of literary resources, book lists, and authors representing people with disabilities. Through Disability Book Week, Mecham is sharing these lists along with advocacy opportunities and inclusion activities. Now, Disability Book Week offers a wide range of ideas and resources to continue developing inclusion through literature in all communities.
Disability Book Week is celebrated across the globe! It is not too late to get involved. Online, you can find a robust list of recommended books featuring characters with disabilities. Disability Book Week also offers a list of authors with disabilities to become familiar with. You can share videos highlighting the meaning and importance of this literary initiative, or find resources to engage your community in inclusive activities.
More Literary Initiatives
TCDD values literacy as a fundamental key to independence for people with developmental disabilities (DD). A lack of proficiency in basic reading can become a barrier to active social participation and can diminish job options and other opportunities for community inclusion. To help expand literacy skills for people with DD across Texas, TCDD recently funded two literacy skills grant projects: Reading for All with Literacy United and Next Chapter Book Clubs held by Texas Advocates.
Reading for All
Literacy United launched the Reading for All project in 2019 to develop a reading intervention program for people with DD in Tarrant County. The program provides consistent and comprehensive reading instruction to help participants learn and sustain reading skills. Through this project, participants in Tarrant County have developed their literacy skills and are gaining confidence in their ability to read.
Next Chapter Book Clubs
Next Chapter Books Clubs, led by Texas Advocates, provide people with DD from multicultural communities with meaningful opportunities to build social networks and enhance their reading skills. By making choices about reading materials and other club materials, participants can make independent decisions and shape their experiences as club members. Through the launch of 30 book clubs in five counties, the project gives people with DD an enjoyable way to interact with friends, meet new people, deepen their appreciation of reading, and boost their self-confidence and decision-making abilities.
Through initiatives like Disability Book Week, Reading for All, and Next Chapter Book Clubs, we are excited to see an expanding network of people with DD who can enjoy and connect through literature. We hope that you take this week to appreciate and share the literary contributions of people with disabilities around the world.