I Am Not a Label: 34 Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists with Disabilities from Past and Present

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
I Am Not a Label: 34 Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists with Disabilities from Past and Present Book Poster Image
Detailed biographies show heart, perseverance.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Detailed biographical and historical information, and an extensive glossary and index.

Positive Messages

Physical and mental differences don't define your fate. Work hard and don't give up on your dreams. You are valued just as you are.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Each of the diverse people featured overcame obstacles with perseverance, heart, and the support of family and friends.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cerrie Burnell's beautifully illustrated book, I Am Not a Label: 34 Artists, Thinkers, Athletes and Activists with Disabilities from Past and Present, is full of fascinating biographies of people who have made an impact on the world, from centuries past to the present. This insightful book includes both physical and mental disabilities, helping readers understand that mental and physical health play a role in navigating everyday life. Burnell prefaces the information with her own biography as a disabled person, and includes an extensive glossary.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAl3p March 8, 2021

For older kids

I was excited to get this book and read it with my kids, the art work is gorgeous, and I loved the concept of the book. But I am leaving a review because I see... Continue reading

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What's the story?

I AM NOT A LABEL delves into the lives of 34 artists, athletes, activists, and thinkers who have dealt with physical and mental disabilities on their way to making a tremendous impact on the world. Full-page illustrations show people from centuries ago, such as Beethoven, Henri Matisse, Helen Keller, and Abraham Lincoln, along with modern public figures including Lady Gaga, Michelle Akers, Stella Young, Catalina Devandas, Lil Wayne, and more. There's a glossary and index at the back of the book defining medical terms and some of the more advanced vocabulary.

Is it any good?

With a fresh look at both the way we refer to disable people and the ways in which physical and mental health can impact lives, there's tremendous breadth, depth, and value on these colorful pages. I Am Not a Label includes notable historical figures, but the most powerful connections are likely with the many pages of modern artists, thinkers, and athletes, as young readers see that the people on their screens today have overcome quite a lot to make an impact on the world.

The inclusion of many people with hidden physical disabilities and mental health obstacles is an important reminder that not all challenges are obvious, and that these conditions can come and go throughout a lifetime. These stories are packed with hope and dare readers to follow their dreams no matter what obstacles are in their way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the individual stories in I Am Not a Label. Why were people with disabilities often denied opportunities? How are they still? What can we do to be sure everyone has the chance to follow their dreams?

  • What can you do if you see someone being treated differently because of their disability?

  • What skills do you think help people overcome these kinds of obstacles?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories of people with challenges

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