by Crystal Ponti
Books are unique in that they can introduce us to new worlds, help us explore exciting concepts, and even learn about what might be happening within ourselves. They are especially beneficial to children, who often have many questions – including questions related to their health and the wellbeing of others. Autism is high on the list. It is estimated that one in every 68 children in the United States has some form of autism – whether it affects themselves, a family member or sibling, or a friend.
Here are seven books that can help children of all ages understand life with autism:
I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism
by Pat Thomas
“I See Things Differently” is the perfect autism introductory book for young children. Written by a psychotherapist and counselor, the book can help spark a conversation with your child about what autism is and how it affects someone who has it. “Using simple language and non-threatening pictures of different common actions or manifestations of autistic behavior, ‘I See Things Differently’ helps explain the condition of autism in a factual, forthright, calm manner that is easily understood by young readers,” says the Midwest Book Review.
All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism
by Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer, Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin
Zane, a zebra with autism, is filled with worry. He worries that he is different from the other little zebras. He worries that those differences might make him stand out in a not so good way. With the love and guidance of his mother, Zane learns that what makes him different also makes him special. “It teaches us to embrace not only who we are, but also to embrace the people around us who are brilliantly different thanks to their own amazing, colorful stripes,” says Stan Lee, Chairman emeritus of Marvel Comics.
A Friend Like Simon
by Kate Gaynor
What’s it like when a child with autism attends school? This book opens the door to the what ifs, hows, and whys in the lively illustrated pages which explains life for a school-aged child on the autism spectrum. The book is perfect for classmates and educators as it encourages mindfulness, patience, and acceptance of the differences and challenges that exist for other children.
by Sue Baer
“Just Elliot” chronicles the story of a six-year-old boy with autism attempting to explain the challenges of his life on the spectrum. The book dives deep describing sensory perceptions, such as stinging bees as he gets a haircut, to the simple need for concentration in a world that looks a completely different to Elliot. A guide for parents or caretakers is included at the back of the book.
by Cynthia Lord
This Newbery Honor book is a humorous and heartbreaking look at autism through the eyes of twelve-year-old Catherine. All Catherine wants is a normal life like the other children her age. But her brother has autism and every single moment revolves around him. She frequently has to remind her brother to not get undressed while in public and that there is a difference between a peach and an apple. Looking after him all these years has been exhausting, but what is a sister to do? Things change when she meets two new friends and finds that her new outlook on life alters her own behavior. Now, she wonders, what is normal.
Same But Different: Teen Life on the Autism Express
by Holly Robinson Peete, RJ Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete
The teen years can be tough. When you or someone you love has autism, they can be downright challenging. Through alternating narratives based on their own lives, Ryan Elizabeth Peete and her twin brother, RJ, who has autism, share their journey. Readers will sympathize and cheer during Ryan’s personal struggle to understand and accept her brother. When dating, parties, sports, and judgmental, cruel kids are thrown into the mix, Ryan is faced with new dilemmas. How can she help her brother without losing herself? Sibling issues and family dynamics are also at the core of the book’s message, so every child can relate. “’My Brother Charlie’ is a celebration of love and family, and the idea that the things that make us different can be the very same ones that bind us together,” says TODAY anchor Al Roker.
Episodes: Scenes from Life, Love, and Autism
by Blaze Ginsberg
“Episodes” is a one-of-a-kind memoir. Author Blaze Ginsberg offers a unique take on his life as a highly functioning autistic young adult. The inspiration for the book came from the layout of the Internet Movie Database. Similarly, Ginsberg organizes his life into a collection of episodes. Some episodes are over, while others are still “reeling.” The book will inspire those with autism or those seeking to understand autism to see the world like they’ve never seen it before.
Crystal Ponti is the owner of Forewordz.com, where book lovers can discover what to read next. She is also a mom (of five!), writer and marathon multitasker from the beautiful state of Maine.