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Books Featuring Thespians With Health Challenges

A lot of people use performing arts, such as theatre, as an outlet. It turns out that a lot of fictional characters do, too! Here is a list of books featuring thespians with health challenges:

1. “The Chance To Fly” by Ali Stroker
Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast? But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)—especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

2. “Cut Loose” by Ali Stroker
The showstopping sequel to “The Chance to Fly”, “Cut Loose!” by Tony Award–winner Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz is an uplifting story about embracing your strengths, standing out, and standing up for what you believe in. It’s the beginning of eighth grade, and Nat Beacon is nervous. Not only will she be the New Kid, but the New Kid in a Wheelchair. And the school year starts off No one seems friendly, and she can’t get to the cafeteria without help. But there are a few bright spots. Namely, her best friend, Hudson; her boyfriend (swoon!), Malik; and her very favorite theater. This year, there’s a middle school theater competition, and any production that wins their regional competition will get the chance to perform—on a real Broadway stage! Nat couldn’t be more excited. This is her chance to make it big and prove she belongs at her new school! She wows the director and gets cast in the school Footloose! But rehearsals are super stressful. Dance diva Skye wants more complex choreography, Malik keeps flaking for band practice, and Hudson gives Nat the cold shoulder, leaving Nat confused and alone. Nat starts to wonder whether she can really carry the show to Broadway and whether, without her friends, it’s worth doing theater at all.

3. “Fade To Us” by Julia Day
Fade To Us is a story about found families, the bond of sisterhood, and the agony and awe of first love. Brooke’s summer is going to be EPIC—having fun with her friends and a job that lets her buy a car. Then her new stepfather announces his daughter is moving in. Brooke has always longed for a sibling, so she’s excited about spending more time with her stepsister. But she worries, too. Natalie has Asperger’s—and Brooke’s not sure how to be the big sister that Natalie needs. After Natalie joins a musical theater program, Brooke sacrifices her job to volunteer for the backstage crew. She’s mostly there for Natalie, but Brooke soon discovers how much she enjoys being part of the show. Especially sweet is the chance to work closely with charming and fascinating Micah—the production’s stage manager. If only he wasn’t Natalie’s mentor… When summer comes to an end, will Brooke finally have the family she so desperately wants—and the love she’s only dreamed about?

4. “Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

5. “Say It Out Loud” by Allison Varnes
Charlotte Andrews is perfectly fine being quiet—in fact, she prefers it. When she doesn’t speak, people can’t make fun of her stutter. But when she witnesses bullying on the school bus and doesn’t say anything, her silence comes between her and her best friend. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her parents signed her up for musical theater. Charlotte doesn’t want to speak onstage, but at least she doesn’t stutter when she sings. Then, just as she starts to find her voice, the arts program is cut. Charlotte can’t stay silent anymore. So she begins to write. Anonymous encouraging notes to her classmates. Letters to the school board to save the school musical. And an essay about the end of her best friendship—and her hope that she can still save it. Words could save Charlotte Andrews and everything she believes in… if she just believes in herself enough to speak up.

6. “Scars Like Wings” by Erin Stewart
Ava Lee has lost everything there is to lose: Her parents. Her best friend. Her home. Even her face. She doesn't need a mirror to know what she looks like—she can see her reflection in the eyes of everyone around her. A year after the fire that destroyed her world, her aunt and uncle have decided she should go back to high school. Be "normal" again. Whatever that is. Ava knows better. There is no normal for someone like her. And forget making friends—no one wants to be seen with the Burned Girl, now or ever. But when Ava meets a fellow survivor named Piper, she begins to feel like maybe she doesn't have to face the nightmare alone. Sarcastic and blunt, Piper isn't afraid to push Ava out of her comfort zone. Piper introduces Ava to Asad, a boy who loves theater just as much as she does, and slowly, Ava tries to create a life again. Yet Piper is fighting her own battle, and soon Ava must decide if she's going to fade back into her scars . . . or let the people by her side help her fly.

📚 Happy reading! 🎭

#themightyreaders #performingartistsonthemighty #SpinalCordInjury #Paralysis #AspergersSyndrome #Dwarfism #Stuttering #burnsurvivors

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Middle-Grade Books Featuring Protagonists with Physical Disabilities

Common physical disabilities like cerebral palsy are sometimes featured in children’s books, but it is even more rare to find other physical disabilities in books. So here are some middle-grade books featuring protagonists with physical disabilities:

1.“Insignificant Events In The Life of A Cactus” by Dusti Bowling

Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again. Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined. It’s hard to solve a mystery, help a friend, and face your worst fears. But Aven’s about to discover she can do it all . . . even without arms.

2.”Monumentous Events In The Life of A Cactus” by Dusti Bowling

The sequel to the critically acclaimed “Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus” follows Aven Green as she confronts yet another challenge: high school. Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 2,300 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, fears, loss, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?

3.”The Chance To Fly” by Ali Stroker

Thirteen-year-old Nat Beacon loves a lot of things: her dog Warbucks, her best friend Chloe, and competing on her wheelchair racing team, the Zoomers, to name a few. But there’s one thing she’s absolutely OBSESSED with: MUSICALS! From Hamilton to Les Mis, there’s not a cast album she hasn’t memorized and belted along to. She’s never actually been in a musical though, or even seen an actor who uses a wheelchair for mobility on stage. Would someone like Nat ever get cast? But when Nat’s family moves from California to New Jersey, Nat stumbles upon auditions for a kids’ production of Wicked, one of her favorite musicals ever! And she gets into the ensemble! The other cast members are super cool and inclusive (well, most of them)—especially Malik, the male lead and cutest boy Nat’s ever seen. But when things go awry a week before opening night, will Nat be able to cast her fears and insecurities aside and “Defy Gravity” in every sense of the song title?

4.”Pixie Pushes On” by Tamara Bundy

A young girl learns bittersweet life lessons on the family farm after her sister gets polio, in this poignant and funny novel set in the heartland in the 1940s. Pixie's defenses are up, and it's no wonder. She's been uprooted, the chickens seem to have it in for her, and now her beloved sister, Charlotte, has been stricken with polio and whisked away into quarantine. So it's not surprising Pixie lashes out. But her habit of making snap judgements—and giving her classmates nicknames like "Rotten Ricky" and "Big-Mouth Berta"—hasn't won her any friends. At least life on the farm is getting better with the delivery of its newest resident--a runt baby lamb. Raising Buster takes patience and understanding—and this slowing down helps Pixie put things in better perspective. So too does paying attention to her neighbors, and finding that with the war on she's not the only one missing someone. As Pixie pushes past her own pain to become a bigger person, she's finally able to make friends; and to laugh about the fact that it is in places where she least expected it.

5.”The War That Saved My Life” by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him. So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?

6.”The Meaning of Maggie” by Megan Jean Sovern

Eleven years old. The beginning of everything! For Maggie Mayfield, turning eleven means she's one year closer to college. One year closer to voting. And one year closer to getting a tattoo. It's time for her to pull herself up by her bootstraps (the family motto) and think about more than after school snacks and why her older sisters are too hot for their own good. Because something mysterious is going on with her cool dude Dad, whose legs have permanently fallen asleep, and Maggie is going to find out exactly what the problem is and fix it. After all, nothing's impossible when you're future president of the United States of America, fifth grade science fair champion, and a shareholder in Coca-Cola, right?

7.”Braced” by Alyson Gerber

Rachel Brooks is excited for the new school year. She's finally earned a place as a forward on her soccer team. Her best friends make everything fun. And she really likes Tate, and she's pretty sure he likes her back. After one last appointment with her scoliosis doctor, this will be her best year yet. Then the doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel's spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace twenty-three hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her -- even her friends and Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself.

8.”Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive - one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins - and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!

9. “Freak The Mighty” by Rodman Philbrick
Two boys—a slow learner stuck in the body of a teenage giant and a tiny Einstein in leg braces—forge a unique friendship when they pair up to create one formidable human force. A wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss.

📚 Happy reading!

#themightyreaders #LimbDifference #SpinalCordInjury #Polio #Paralysis #MultipleSclerosis #Clubfoot #Scoliosis #Dwarfism #MorquioSyndrome

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✨Memoir Spotlight✨—“A Little Me” by Amy Roloff

“God doesn’t make mistakes.” For Amy Roloff, star of TLC’s hit reality show Little People, Big World, her father’s words would repeatedly serve as an anchor, reminding her of her inherent worth and purpose, whenever feelings of insecurity and inadequacy surfaced and threatened to overwhelm her. In “A Little Me”, Amy shares what it was like growing up with #Achondroplasia #Dwarfism , how she struggled to overcome obstacles both physical and emotional—navigating the average-size world as a little person, dealing with a serious illness as a young girl, bullying, and issues of body image and unachievable beauty ideals—while learning, as we all must, to accept herself for who she is. Finally allowing herself to be vulnerable enough to open up to others, she learned that it’s worth risking possible rejection for a chance at genuine relationships. Ultimately, it was Amy’s faith, as well as the support and encouragement of her community of loving family and good friends, that saw her through the dark times and allowed her to realize her greatest dreams and beyond. Amy’s memoir is an inspiring and at times heart-wrenching account of resilience and the strength of the human spirit to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

📚 Happy reading! ❣️

#themightyreaders #Dwarfism #Achondroplasia #IrritableBowelSyndromeIBS

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How do you pace your energy levels throughout the day?

Symptom management when you live with achondroplasia can be challenging, especially when you only have so much energy to work with on any given day.

What is the most effective way you’ve found to measure how much energy you have to complete your daily tasks? How do you delineate your responsibilities if needed or slow down the pace?

#Achondroplasia #RareDisease #Dwarfism #Caregiving #Parenting #ChronicPain #SleepApnea

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What do you feel is the hardest part about living with achondroplasia?

Living with achondroplasia can be really challenging, and oftentimes looks different for everyone.

What do you feel is the hardest part about living with achondroplasia? What do you wish others better understood?

#Achondroplasia #RareDisease #Dwarfism #Caregiving #Parenting #ChronicPain #SleepApnea

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Share an important, informative, or memorable part of your achondroplasia journey.

Each of our health journeys are multifaceted, complex, and unique — but that doesn’t mean we’re alone in what we go through. Those shared experiences are what make us Mighty! 💪

If you feel comfortable, share a part of your achondroplasia journey that has stuck with you and made a lasting impact — no matter if it’s a positive or negative mark.

#RareDisease #Parenting #Caregiving #Achondroplasia #Dwarfism #ChronicPain #SleepApnea

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What’s a health goal you set but find it challenging to implement?

Making short-term — or even long-term — health goals can create a roadmap for you to follow when you’re looking to make decisions about your health. It’s not always easy, though, to implement every goal immediately — especially when you’re met with challenges or barriers. This can be anything from health limits and demands, limiting beliefs, finances, your living situation, or even circumstances that are out of your control. What’s a health goal you set but find it challenging to implement?

#RareDisease #Parenting #Caregiving #Achondroplasia #Dwarfism #SleepApnea #ChronicPain

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How has achondroplasia affected your dating and love life?

From body image and dating to maintaining personal relationships, we know achondroplasia can affect life in many different ways (both good and bad).

Whether it’s stigma, lack of public understanding, or the impact your condition has on your confidence and self-image, it can be challenging to navigate relationships of all kinds.

How has achondroplasia affected your ability to date and explore romantic relationships, if those are of interest to you? Let’s share and help one another in the comments below. 💌

#RareDisease #Parenting #Caregiving #Achondroplasia #Dwarfism #SleepApnea #ChronicPain

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What was the highlight of your week so far?

We made it to another week, hooray! Reflecting on the last few days, what was a bright spot for you? (No answer is too small, by the way, the sun coming out and providing literal brightness totally counts!)

My personal highlight - taking my doggies on a walk at their favorite hiking trail!

Share your super moment from the week below! 👇

#SkeletalDysplasia #Dwarfism #Achondroplasia #Parenting #Caregiving #RareDisease

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What is your favorite animal?

Hi there! My name is Vy. I’m your new group leader for Let’s Talk Achondroplasia and a member of The Mighty’s staff. I’m here to share information and resources related to achondroplasia, as well as ask questions about your experiences and support you through your health journey.

I’m so happy to be here! Feel free to say hi in the comments below and tell me what your favorite animal is! Mine is a red panda!

#SkeletalDysplasia #Dwarfism #Achondroplasia #Parenting #Caregiving #RareDisease

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