I have pages of long lists of books I need to read but rarely get to it due to a busy work life, unending advocacy and a body that doesn’t want to cooperate. But after many books on disability came out this year, I made sure to force myself to set time aside and listen to the voices of my community. I also thought it was important to share books on disability to my able-bodied and disabled followers.
Meet Amy Webb (aka Miggy); a blogger, author, wife and mom of three girls. Amy’s blog became especially popular after the birth of her second daughter “Lamp” who was born with a condition called Microgastria and Limb Reduction Complex. Lamp has limb differences on all 4 limbs.
I recently happened across Amy’s Instagram. Knowing how rare disability is featured in children’s books, or any book, film or media, for that matter, her 2020 picture book Awesomely Emma caught my attention. We began exchanging messages and I shared my picture book (Monster and Me) inspired by my rare disease that I’m currently working on. She in turn sent me a copy of her book with a lovely message inscribed inside.
Amy’s first picture book was When Charley Met Emma. Awesomely Emma, follows a similar thread of attempting to expand what the picture book marketplace looks like; highlighting disability, inclusion and inaccessibility.
Awesomely Emma is a story of a disabled young girl with limb differences who loves art and is her own best advocate as she is empowered to share the good news that “all bodies are wonderful” with her peers.
“I didn’t really notice seeing myself in the world around me, because I had been conditioned to expect to see myself.
But as the mother of a daughter who never sees herself represented in the world around her (except for the books her mother wrote) I can tell you the impact is real. You don’t get to go to the playground and just play, you have to explain your body to your peers and potential friends first. You don’t just go to school on the first day like every other kid, your mom comes and does a slideshow presentation to help other kids understand your differences so they don’t stare and call you names. For a long time I accepted this as “it’s just the way it is.” Now I realize, the lack of representation is why it “is the way it is.” -Amy Webb
One way to teach empathy is through visibility. Children are keenly moldable and adaptable, it’s adults who have difficulties in accepting differences. To children, everything is fresh and they don’t hold prejudices or biases like we do. They accept things until adults get involved and mess it all up. But they can only learn and understand what they are exposed to.
Amy’s reason for writing these books is exactly why I am writing and illustrating my first picture book on disability. Our stories are unique and add to the complex narrative that is humans, and the more complexity society sees, the better off we will be. Allowing children to see variation raises a new generation that is more aware, tolerant, inclusive and empathetic. My sister-in-law sent me a drawing my niece recently drew (in gallery) and it was wonderful to see how she sees me. To my little niece, Charlie, I’m just Aunt Kam on wheels.
After recently losing a lot of my newer picture book art and writing, receiving this encouraged me to get back to it and get it done. I’ve been battling my own insecurities of doing something, yet again, that I’m not trained in. That, and health, work and advocacy distractions that are hard to turn down. But I’m trying to finish my children’s book by the end of this year and hope to be holding my children’s book like this next year.
Thanks to Amy for being a voice for her daughter, disability, inclusion and for sending me her book. Her book is a good way to start inclusive discussions with your children. I’m
And, there you have it. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about a few books on disability. Hope to do more reviews in the future. Always take the initiative to teach yourself more. Be curious. Be open.
I love being me, because me is an awesome thing to be!
Amy Webb is an artist, writer, mother, and creator of the popular blog This Little Miggy Stayed Home. As a special needs mom, she advocates for the disability and special needs community through her writings and interviews on her blog. Her work has been featured in The Mighty, A Cup of Jo, and Design*Sponge as well as through interviews in DesignMom, MotherMag, and the print publication Lunch Lady Magazine. She is the author of When Charley Met Emma. Webb lives with her handsome husband and three beautiful daughters in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Merrilee Liddiard grew up in a splendid home filled with delightful artistic chaos and ample creativity. She spent most of her youth making things like lions out of oatmeal boxes, drawing little humans or animals, and telling the tales that went along with them. She is known for her love of kids design, toys, and DIY crafts. When not drawing or creating things for her three children, Liddiard loves to travel, wander museums, sew, thrift, read, and nap.
An Inside Look at Awesomely Emma