I am Mary Mecham, Director of Disability Book Week. Thank you for your interest in this exciting project! I have been asked multiple times why I decided to organize this event.
I have been an avid reader my entire life. My house is filled with books, and I love them all. I also have two children with rare genetic disorders. They are non-verbal, have moderate Intellectual Disability, brittle bones, metabolic disorders, and are the absolute sweetest girls you will ever meet with smiles that light up the room.
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. I wanted them to have a book with characters they could identify with. So, I went on a hunt through my house to find any book that had a main character with a disability. I counted- in our home, we have 2,186 books. Of that amount, there were only 16 books with disabled characters as main characters. 8 of those were from the same series.
I was surprised by several things when I finally counted those books. First, that less than 1% of the books I owned had a main character that was disabled. Second, of those books that addressed disabilities, they were some of my all-time favorite books, which is why I had all 8 of one series sitting on my shelf! They were not my favorite simply because it mentioned disabilities, but because they were wonderful stories that were relatable, enjoyable, and a pleasure to read.
So I started to hunt for more books that had main characters with disabilities. During my search, I started to meet authors with disabilities who felt inspired to write about their own struggles in their published literary works. I got so excited about their journeys that I knew I needed to share all of these incredible books and authors with the world!
I want every person, disabled or not, to find a character they can identify with. I want children to be exposed to books that normalize disability and understand that every life is valuable. Finally, I wanted an opportunity to cheer on authors with disabilities in their careers! Supported by an outstanding team of disability advocates, I present: Disability Book Week, a celebration of disability inclusion and diversity in literature!