5 Books About People With Facial Differences

Posted on July 10, 2023

by Patrick C

July is Disability Pride month, but also, it’s National Cleft & Craniofacial Awareness & Prevention Month. There are a wide variety of facial differences that can originate from all manner of causes, whether it’s genetics, diseases, accidents, or other traumas. These titles for young readers celebrate and explore those differences to remind readers that people who look different are people first, no matter their appearance, and not all people with apparent differences would consider themselves disabled. The earlier we can learn this, the better. After all, as any librarian will tell you, you should never judge a book by its cover!


By R. J. Palacio

Print   |  Wonderbook  |  eBook eAudiobook

Easily the most popular title in this list, Wonder was inspired by the author’s real-life reaction to an encounter with a child with Treacher Collins Syndrome and her regret about her reaction. Treacher Collins is just one of a myriad of genetic conditions that can impact the development of the face and facial features. This story is commonplace in school reading lists and has spinoffs, reprintings, and a film. The titular Auggie Pullman has a severe variety, and it details his troubles fitting in and finding friends after entering into school for the first time at 5th grade simply because of his different facial features.

A Face for Picasso

By Ariel Henley

Print   |   eBook  |  eAudiobook hoopla

This memoir aimed toward teens would be a great follow-up to Wonder when they’re ready. This title details the experiences of the author and, to some extent, her twin sister as they go through the years of surgery necessary to compensate for their condition, Crouzon Syndrome. This gives realistic experiences and social complications that stem from having a rare genetic condition that impacts appearance. This is a great title not only because it comes from someone who lived the experience, but also because the author is a DEI consultant and ability rights activist.

Turtle Boy

By M. Evan Wolkenstein

Print | eAudiobook

Another fiction book, this protagonist is living with a condition called Micrognathia and is of Jewish heritage. This all comes into play as he must interact with a terminally ill boy as part of his bar mitzvah and decides to help with the boy’s bucket list, finally concluding that he must come out of his shell if he wants acceptance. The author has stated that there is some overlap between his experiences and those of his character, which always helps add to the realism of the book.


By Robert Hoge

Print   |   eAudiobook

This young reader version of Hoge’s memoir (the adult version can be found here) details his life as a boy born with a facial tumor and his journey to accept himself. In his 2016 NPR interview he gives a brief overview but is also very candid about the expectations and fears of his own parents in discovering his unique face. He demonstrates that it’s not children that have the hardest time with people that look different, but adults, having their expectations challenged, struggle the most.



By Magdalena & Nathaniel Newman

hoopla eBook   |   hoopla eAudiobook

Normal is a memoir written by a mother and son going through the real-life progression of Treacher Collins syndrome and its various surgeries and difficulties. Frequently connected with Palacio’s Wonder, this nonfiction book is a great companion to give some very real experiences with connections to the fictional characters of that book. Nathaniel’s presence across multiple news outlets, including a segment on 20/20, which can be watched here, has been well established. If you’d like to get a real idea of how the story of Wonder compares to reality, this book may offer a few more insights.

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