Companion Books for 2024


Companion Books for 2024

Malden Reads is pleased to offer a wide variety of companion books for young readers, all of which complement the 2024 adult book choice, Being Heumann by Judith Heumann.

A story of fighting to belong in a world that wasn’t built for all of us and of one woman’s activism—from the streets of Brooklyn and San Francisco to inside the halls of Washington—Being Heumann recounts Judy Heumann’s lifelong battle to achieve respect, acceptance, and inclusion in society.

PreK–Early Elementary

Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher (Author) PreK–2
A boy’s wonderful mama takes him zooming everywhere with her, because her wheelchair is a zooming machine.



Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism by Laurie Lears (Author) Karen Ritz (Illustrator) PreK–3
Julie can’t wait to go to the park, But she’s not sure she wants to take her little brother, Ian, who has autism.

Julie can’t wait to go to the park and feed the ducks with her big sister, Tara. There’s only one problem. Her little brother, Ian, who has autism, wants to go, too. Ian doesn’t have the same reactions to all the sights and sounds that his sisters have, and Julie thinks he looks silly. But when he wanders off on his own, she must try to see the world through his eyes in order to find him.

Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (grades K–4)
Patricia Polacco is now one of America’s most loved children’s book creators, but once upon a time, she was a little girl named Trisha starting school. Trisha could paint and draw beautifully, but when she looked at words on a page, all she could see was jumble. It took a very special teacher to recognize little Trisha’s dyslexia: Mr. Falker, who encouraged her to overcome her reading disability.



My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best and Vanessa Brantley-Newton (grades preK–2)Zulay and her three best friends are all in the same first grade class and study the same things, even though Zulay is blind. When their teacher asks her students what activity they want to do on Field Day, Zulay surprises everyone when she says she wants to run a race. With the help of a special aide and the support of her friends, Zulay does just that.


Feeling Left Out by James Norris (grades preK–2)
Jimmy watches from his wheelchair as his classmates have fun on the school playground. Steve, who sometimes stutters, starts a conversation with him, and they discover they both like sharing silly jokes with the other children.

Elementary School and Middle School

We Move Together by Kelly Fritsch (author), Anne McGuire (Author), Eduardo Trejos (Illustrator) (grades 1–2)
A bold and colorful exploration of all the ways that people navigate through the spaces around them, and a celebration of the relationships we build along the way. We Move Together follows a mixed-ability group of kids as they creatively negotiate everyday barriers, and find joy and connection in disability culture and community.



Fighting for Yes: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann
by Maryann Cocca-Leffler (Author), Vivien Mildenberger (Illustrator), Judith Heumann (Afterword) (grades 1–6)
Picture book highlighting the life and work of Judith Heumann. Along with a personal reflection from Judy herself, award-winning author Maryann Cocca-Leffler and illustrator Vivien Mildenberger’s picture book biography captures the impact and influence of one of America’s greatest activists.


Niagara Falls, or Does It? (Hank Zipzer, the World’s Greatest Underachiever)
by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver (grades 2–5)
Inspired by the true life experiences of Henry Winkler, whose undiagnosed dyslexia made him a classic childhood underachiever, the Hank Zipzer series is about the high-spirited and funny adventures of a boy with learning differences.



El Deafo by Cece Bell (grades 3–7)
This funny and poignant memoir in graphic novel format about a child grappling with hearing loss, entering school and making friends is ideal for kids navigating new experiences. This memoir is exceptional for its perceptive, indomitable protagonist and complex story of friendship, growth, and classroom and family dynamics.



Rules by Cynthia Lord (grades 4–7)
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David rules like “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to head off his embarrassing behaviors. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?



Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (grades 5–6)
Eleven-year-old Melody is not like most people. She can’t walk. She can’t talk. She can’t write. All because she has cerebral palsy. But she also has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She’s the smartest kid in her whole school, but NO ONE knows it. Most people—her teachers, her doctors, her classmates—dismiss her as mentally challenged because she can’t tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by her disability. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.

Middle School and High School

Rolling Warrior: The Incredible, Sometimes Awkward, True Story of a Rebel Girl on Wheels Who Helped Spark a Revolution by Judith Heumann and Kristen Joiner (grades 5–9)
In this young readers’ edition of her acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann, Judy shares her journey of battling for equal access in an unequal world—from fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” because of her wheelchair, to suing the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her disability. Judy went on to lead 150 people with disabilities in the longest sit-in protest in US history at the San Francisco Federal Building. Cut off from the outside world, the group slept on office floors, faced down bomb threats, and risked their lives to win the world’s attention and the first civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.