Autism spectrum disorder is an umbrella term for a developmental disorder characterized by impairment in social skills, communication skills, interests, and behavioural patterns. Young children with autism have difficulties in social interactions, sharing their feelings and emotions, maintaining relationships, and have a strong need for a routine. According to WHO, 1 in 160 children suffers from autism spectrum disorders.
Kids with autism spectrum disorders can often find reading and comprehension hard. Books for autistic children can help reduce communication differences, improve their emotional connection, language, listening, and social skills. Young children learn new things easily, and books can be the best way to facilitate that. Reading picture books and books on things they like are ways reading can be fun for autistic children and help blossom young readers.
Here are 15 must-read books for autistic children.
1. All My Stripes by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
All My Stripes is a children’s book about Zane the zebra, who has an autism strip. Initially, he is scared that other children will judge him for acting and doing things differently. With the help of his mother, he unlearned such ideas and realized how special he is.
This book is a good option for children on the autism spectrum as they can relate to the main character, understand their behaviour better, and develop self-confidence.
2. A Friend Like Henry by Nuala Gardener
This is another one of the books for autistic children that follows a young boy named Dale, who has high functioning autism since birth. His autism is severe, and his parents are extremely worried. One day, they visit their friends where he seems to be getting along with the dog. This encourages his parents to get him a puppy named Henry. Henry helps improve his emotional connections, day-to-day activities, and self-esteem, making his life easier.
It is one of the best books for autistic children about how Dale can finally get his autism under control and lead a normal life, thanks to his new friend Henry.
3. Different Like Me by Jennifer Elder
Different Like Me is one of the best books for autistic children. An eight-year-old boy Quinn describes the lives of Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll, Dian Fossey, Julia Bowman Robinson, Benjamin Banneker, and other inspiring historical figures who, despite being different from others, changed the world.
This book about autism heroes is a good option for children on the spectrum trying to understand their differences and are looking for role models. It teaches kids on the autism spectrum an important lesson- doing things differently doesn’t affect your success in life.
4. Pablo: Goodnight Pablo by Pablo
This is a part of a series of bedtime books for autistic children is specifically written to them. Pablo and his friend are afraid they will disappear when they sleep at night. The other children make them understand that this won’t happen and help them peacefully go to sleep.
The beautiful illustrations in this picture book are immensely loved and enjoyed by young readers and make this one of the best books for autistic children.
5. All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopmann
This book has a fun take on the difficulties faced by autistic children and those taking care of them. With the help of many beautiful pictures of cats and kittens, the author jokingly draws an insightful parallel between children with Asperger’s syndrome, other kids on the autism spectrum, and household cats. They are indeed pretty similar in terms of not liking being touched, picky eating, and sharp hearing abilities. The book explains Asperger’s syndrome in simple and easy terms and can act as a learning resource.
6. Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears by Jennifer Veenendaal
Izzy is a first-grader who often covers her ears due to sensory overload and sensory modulation difficulties. The people around her are not able to understand her behaviours and sensory issues.
Kids with autism often complain of sensory sensitivity. This book creates a safe space for autistic children who can relate to the main character and try to make sense of their actions. It also helps teachers, parents and family members, and friends be more sensitive and understanding towards children with a sensory processing disorder.
7. My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete
Holly has collaborated with her daughter to write about the life of their young boy with autism. This book is a sibling’s diary where an older sister talks about the day-to-day life struggles of her younger brother, an autistic child. She also mentions how they both are similar yet different from each other and what makes her younger brother Charlie, the author’s son, a special boy regardless of his autistic mind. My Brother Charlie is a popular pick in books for autistic children as it can also be used to explain autism to other young people who may have a friend with autism.
8. The Girl Who Thought In Pictures by Julia Finley Mosca
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures is a picture book about one of the autism heroes and scientists, Dr Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child. Despite being an autistic kid, Temple Grandin developed a special connection with animals and became a very significant contributor to the world of farming. This book will inspire children with autism to never underestimate themselves and keep following their passion because if Temple Grandin can do it, so can they.
9. Andy And His Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson
Andy is a young boy with autism. He plays with his frisbee alone during recess while his sister watches him from a distance, making sure her autistic brother is safe. One day a little girl tries to talk to him and show him her frisbee, but Andy is reluctant to talk to her. She remains hopeful, and they eventually become friends.
This sweet story is a real depiction of the lives of children with autism spectrum disorders and the children around them. The book introduces children to the fact that an autistic child may act distant at first and do things differently, but they can make new friends and be loving when handled with patience and care.
10. Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin
This story about autism is from the perspective of a 12-year-old child with autism spectrum disorder, Jason Blake, trying to make it through a mainstream school. He talks about his thoughts, feelings, and the challenges he faces in making friends with his parents. As a child with autism, he describes the mechanisms he has developed to deal with them.
11. The Asperger Children’s Toolkit by Francis Musgrave
As the name suggests, this book is a toolkit with helpful suggestions for children with Asperger’s syndrome. With the help of some characters, this book helps engaging children in activities that help them work through anxiety and other negative emotions that accompany Asperger’s syndrome. Children’s parents, teachers, and other young readers can help in the activities and make it a learning experience.
12. A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynor
Mathew introduces readers to Simon, an autistic boy in their class who acts differently from others. He stays by himself, makes it clear that he doesn’t like being touched through facial expressions, and keeps his belongings in a specific order. Finding him different, Mathew doesn’t bother talking to him until they are partnered during a school trip. He then realizes that despite their differences, Simon has certain qualities that make him a good friend.
It is one of the many sweet storybooks for autistic children that teaches kids about friendship, acceptance of differences, the importance of supporting one another, and how having a friend with autism is awesome. With the help of simple language, the author accurately described the different behaviours associated with autism that other young people might find unusual. It also teaches children to accept others who are like Simon.
13. Nope. Never. Not for Me! by Samantha Cotterill
Nope. Never. Not for Me! is a children’s book about a child who is a picky eater and refuses to try new food items. Autistic children often behave so because of their strong desire for routine and aversion to new experiences. In this book, a mother tries to make tasting broccoli easy for her little girl through acute observation of the vegetable. This story encourages autistic kids to be open to new experiences through a step-by-step process.
14. Can You See Me? by Libby Scott, Rebecca Westcott
This book is about a child who has autism. The book is in the form of diary entries in which she gives a detailed description of her feelings and the challenges faced by her every day. She also mentions how autism makes people special, as some people on the autism spectrum have better memory and hearing skills. This is one of the best books for autistic children as they can relate to the main character and her daily struggles with social rules. It also can provide a better understanding of autism to other kids.
15. The Autism Activities Handbook by Catherine Pascuas:
The Autism Activities Handbook is one of the best activity books for autistic children. It includes a wide range of engaging activities that will help children on the autism spectrum develop their language, vocabulary, motor skills, social, communication skills and help them lead a normal life. These activities are- fun, easy to follow, and a learning experience – all at the same!
These are some of the best options in books for autistic children to encourage your child to start reading! Reading is a great habit that ensures the overall development of a child. Though it might be hard at first, these and other children’s books for autistic children like engaging storybooks, picture books, and activity books will definitely make it easier for young readers on the autism spectrum.
Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.