Books by Theme
Understanding autism can begin with stories about a child, sibling, friend, and classmate (and even a kid detective!) with autism or Asperger syndrome. This collection includes picture books for elementary age children and their families as well as chapter books for middle school and high school readers.
A Boy Called Bat
After the mother skunk is killed, Bixby “Bat” Alexander Tam’s veterinarian mother brings home its kit to be kept only until its old enough to be released. Who would have thought Bat would want to keep the baby skunk, named Thor? Is it really okay for a skunk to become a pet? Bat is a unique character and the story offers a deeply heartfelt glimpse into the life of a boy on the autism spectrum, presented realistically in this touching (and surprisingly informative) novel.
A Friend for Henry
Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does. But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend — or will a friend find him? With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.
A Friend Like Simon
When an autistic child joins a mainstream school, many children can find it difficult to understand and cope with a student that is somewhat ‘different’ to them. This story encourages other children to be mindful and patient of the differences that exist and to also appreciate the positive contribution that an autistic child can make to the group.
A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling
An 8-year-old girl decides to make a list of all the things she likes and dislikes about dealing with her autistic brother, and in doing so realizes that she has created A Manual for Marco.
A Whole New Ballgame
Rip and Red are best friends whose fifth-grade year is nothing like what they expected. They have a crazy new tattooed teacher named Mr. Acevedo, who doesn't believe in tests or homework and who likes off-the-wall projects. Easy-going Rip is knocked completely out of his comfort zone. And for Red, who has autism and really needs things to be exactly a certain way, the changes are even more of a struggle. But together these two make a great duo who know how to help each other ― and find ways to make a difference ― in the classroom and on the court.
Al Capone Does My Shirts
When Moose's family moves to Alcatraz so his father can work as a guard and his sister Natalie (who has autism) can attend a special school in San Francisco, Moose has to leave his friends and his winning baseball team behind. Moose just wants to protect Natalie, live up to his parent's expectations, and stay out of trouble, but on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.
Anything But Typical
A story told entirely from the point of view of Jason, an autistic boy who is a creative-writing whiz and deft explainer of literary devices, but markedly at a loss in social interactions with “neurotypicals” both at school and at home. He is most comfortable in an online writing forum called Storyboard, where his stories kindle an e-mail-based friendship with a girl. The author describes Jason’s attempts to interpret body language and social expectations, and ultimately how Jason moves through his failures and triumphs with the same depth of courage and confusion of any boy his age.
Autism, the Invisible Cord: A Sibling's Diary
"Ezra looks like any other sixth grader with faded jeans, turned around cap and a mess of chestnut curls. You see, my brother is like any other eleven-year-old except when he isn't." This story follows 14-year-old Jenny as she describes her day-to-day life with her younger autistic brother, Ezra. Ezra can be both her best friend as well as her biggest obstacle to living a normal life, and Jenny often finds herself stuck worrying about her younger brother. Through taking care of Ezra and a very special school project, Jenny ends up learning about her own character and strengths, and a way to shine despite everything else.
Benji, the Bad Day and Me
Like the narrator, everyone sometimes has a bad day. Samuel’s started at school and didn’t improve at home. But his little brother Benji helps Samuel feel better as Benji has been made to feel better: by becoming a burrito! Samuel knows that he and Benji will both be “okay, That’s because the two of us are brothers.” Warm and empathetic, the story is based on the author’s sons, one who is autistic.
Can You See Me?
Tally is smart, compassionate, and she has a superpower: autism. Inspired by young coauthor Libby Scott's own experiences with autism, this is an honest and moving middle-school story of friends, family, and finding one's place.
Counting by 7s
Willow Chance is a 12-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. Willow is also an outsider, a girl possibly somewhere on the autism/Asperger's spectrum (although that is never stated). Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. This story is about her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family.
Chibi is a young boy who is excluded on the playground because he is different — he has autism. His peers only discover their admiration for him after a wise, nurturing teacher encourages his unique talent in connecting with animals. Subtle illustrations evoke Japan’s countryside and traditional art.
Do You Want to Play? Making Friends with an Autistic Kid
"Do you want to play?" That's what Jamie, with her favorite yellow truck, asks new kid Dylan, who only seems to want to line up his cars. This story gently explores learning about others and finding new ways to have fun. One of the most common issues for kids with autism is friendship. Children's books sometimes depict the neurotypical child as doing their autistic pal a favor by befriending them, often forcing them to change a part of themselves. This story shows us that children with autism are more than capable of making meaningful contributions to relationships, and suggests how neurotypical children can alter their own approach to create a true connection.
Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
Intellectually gifted but socially aloof from her seventh-grade peers, Emma-Jean is nonetheless happy with her life. She has positive relationships with several adults, a number of interests to pursue, and the memory of her late father to inspire her. Her life changes after a chance encounter with a classmate leads her to become a problem-solver without realizing the ripple effect that her actions will have. Readers will be intrigued by Emma-Jean's insightful observations and her adult-level vocabulary.
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!
Vivy Cohen, an 11-year-old with autism, won't let anything stop her from playing baseball — not when she has a major-league star as her pen pal. This novel-in-letters captures Vivy's growing sense of her own capabilities. It's a satisfying baseball story that never minimizes the challenges of autism but celebrates skill, determination, and love for the game.
I Just Don't Like the Sound of No!
NO is RJ s least favorite word ... and he tries his best to convince his dad, his mom, and his teacher to turn No into Maybe or We'll see or Later or I'll think about it. Even though he doesn t have much success, RJ keeps arguing until his teacher suggests that he try to join her classroom s Say YES to NO Club. If RJ can learn how to accept No for an answer and to disagree appropriately with his teacher and parents, he can add his name to the club's Star Board.
I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism
A sensitive, gently illustrated book about helping a child understand autism in a sibling, playmate, or classmate. The storyline is simple and easily accessible to younger children, who will learn that exploring the personal feelings around social issues is a first step in dealing with them.
Ian's Walk: A Story about Autism
Julie can't wait to go to the park and feed the ducks with her big sister. Her little brother, Ian, who has autism, wants to go, too. Ian doesn't have the same reactions to all the sights and sounds that his sisters have. Through its simple plot, the story conveys a complex family relationship and demonstrates the ambivalent emotions Julie feels about her autistic brother. This natural mix of resentment, anger, isolation, loyalty, and love is explained in preliminary notes written by professional pediatric caregivers.
In Two Worlds
Seven-year-old Anthony has autism. He flaps his hands. He makes strange noises. He can’t speak or otherwise communicate his thoughts. Treatments, therapies, and theories about his condition define his daily existence. Yet Anthony isn’t improving much. This debut work of fiction sheds light on the inner and outer lives of children with nonspeaking autism, and on their two worlds — and how they navigate their way through the multitude of theories about autism that have affected the lives of many children and their families. As one of the few works of fiction written by a person with non-speaking autism, it offers readers an insider’s point-of-view into autism and life in silence, with warmth, humor, and sharp intellect.
It's Hard To Be a Verb!
Louis is a verb! He has a lot of trouble focusing and he is always doing something, but the problem is usually it's the wrong something. It's hard to be a verb! My knees start itching, my toes start twitching, my skin gets jumpy, others get grumpy. When it comes to sitting still it s just not my deal. Haven't you heard... I am a verb! Louis mom teaches him how to focus by showing him a few hands on ideas that anyone can try. A helpful book for all who struggle with paying attention.
Jay and Ben
Jay can make his own breakfast, dress himself, and play by himself, but sometimes he feels sad and wishes for a friend. When a magical horse appears and befriends Jay, his wish comes true. This interactive book was developed for use with children with developmental and learning differences and disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and dyslexia. It is designed to help educators, parents, and caregivers teach children about language, reading, story comprehension, functional skills, and basic concepts.
Just My Luck
Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn't found a new best friend at school. He's still not a great bike rider — even though his brother George, who's autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad's recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom's advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time, but Benny doesn't know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life seems to have thrown their way.
Looking after Louis
A young girl sits next to a boy named Louis at school. Louis has autism, but through imagination, kindness, and a special game of soccer, his classmates find a way to join him in his world. Then they can include Louis in theirs.
From inside Caitlin's head, readers see the very personal aftermath of a middle school shooting that took the life of the older brother she adored. Caitlin is a bright fifth grader and a gifted artist. She also has Asperger Syndrome, and her brother, Devon, was the one who helped her interpret the world. A compassionate school counselor works with her, trying to teach her the social skills that are so difficult for her. Through her own efforts and her therapy sessions, she begins to come to terms with her loss and makes her first, tentative steps toward friendship. (Winner of the National Book Award)
My Brother Charlie
Twins Callie and Charlie have a lot in common, but they are also very different: Charlie has autism. Callie narrates the story, describing what autism is and exploring the issues that come along with it. The theme is of love, patience, and acceptance. Endnotes give a few basic facts for children unfamiliar with autism. The authors, a mother-daughter team, based this story on personal experience. The bright, mixed-media illustrations depict the family's warmth and concern.
My Friend with Autism
The young narrator explains that his friend with autism is good at some things and not so good at others — just like everyone else! In an informative, positive tone, he addresses issues such as sensory sensitivity, communication differences, unique ways of playing, and insistence on routine. At the end of the book are notes for adults, which supplement the text with facts and explanations for teachers and classmates’ parents.
My Mouth Is a Volcano!
All of Louis thoughts are very important to him. In fact, his thoughts are so important to him that when he has something to say, he erupts, or interrupts others. His mouth is a volcano! This story takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to capture their rambunctious thoughts and words for expression at an appropriate time. Told from Louis’s perspective, the story provides parents, teachers, and counselors with an entertaining way to teach children the value of respecting others by listening and waiting for their turn to speak.
My Wandering Dreaming Mind
Sadie feels like her thoughts are soaring into the clouds and she can’t bring them back down to earth. She has trouble paying attention, which makes keeping track of schoolwork, friends, chores, and everything else really tough. Sometimes she can only focus on her mistakes. When Sadie talks to her parents about her wandering, dreaming mind, they offer a clever plan to help remind Sadie how amazing she is. Includes a Note to Parents and Caregivers with more information on ADHD, self-esteem, and helping children focus on the positives.
My Whirling Twirling Motor
Charlie feels like he has a whirling, twirling motor running inside him all the time and sometimes he just can’t settle. When his mom wants to talk to him, he figures he’s in trouble … but she has a surprise for him instead! Includes a Note to Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers with more information on ADHD, behavior management, and helping children focus on the positives.
P.K. Pinkerton and the Case of the Deadly Desperados
The year is 1862, and 12-year-old P.K. “Pinky” Pinkerton is on the run from Whittlin’ Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados. P.K. is determined to hold on to Ma’s last priceless possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. P.K. will have to be both clever and cunning to evade the band of outlaws. All this is seen through the eyes of P.K., a half-Lakota kid with Asperger Syndrome, which makes him chronically unable to interpret the intentions of people around him.
Pedro, a young boy who loves whales more than anything, is heartbroken when he's told to put away his favorite toy whale on the first day of school. But then Pedro's teacher discovers the secret to helping him do his best work: not only giving him his whale, but also incorporating his special interest into the whole curriculum. Soon, Pedro's whale is helping all the children learn, as the teacher works whales into math lessons, storytime, simple science experiments, and more! Pedro's whale helps him make friends, too, as the other children start to share his special interest. This story introduces educators to one of the best, most effective inclusion strategies: using students' fascinations to help them learn.
Personal Space Camp
Louis, a self-taught space expert is delighted to learn that his teacher has sent him to the principal's office to attend personal space camp. Eager to learn more about lunar landings, space suits, and other cosmic concepts, Louis soon discovers that he has much to learn about personal space right here on earth. Written with style, wit, and rhythm, personal space camp addresses the complex issue of respect for another person's physical boundaries. Told from Louis's perspective, this story is a good resource for parents, teachers, and counselors who want to communicate the idea of personal space in a manner that connects with kids.
Planet Earth Is Blue
A powerful story about the extraordinary mind of a young nonverbal girl with autism, her passion for space exploration, and the bond between sisters.
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein). Not everyone understands Rose's obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different — not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father. When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Though Rose's story is often heartbreaking, her matter-of-fact narration provides moments of humor. Readers will empathize with Rose, who finds strength and empowerment through her unique way of looking at the world.
During a summer vacation at his aunt's house, Johnny is made responsible for taking care of his older cousin Remember, who has autism. Remember is a gawky awkward kid with some pretty strange habits, like repeating back almost everything Johnny says and spending hours glued to the weather channel. Johnny's premonitions of disaster appear at first to come to fruition, but when the two boys save a bully from drowning, salvage the pizzeria guy's romance, and share girl troubles, Johnny ends up having the summer of his life.
Kiara has Asperger’s syndrome, and it’s hard for her to make friends. She wishes she could be like her hero Rogue — a misunderstood X-Men mutant who used to hurt anyone she touched until she learned how to control her special power. When Chad moves in across the street, Kiara hopes that, for once, she’ll be able to make friendship stick. When she learns his secret, she’s so determined to keep Chad as a friend that she agrees not to tell. But being a true friend is complicated and it might be just the thing that leads Kiara to find her own special power. The story celebrates everyone’s ability to discover and use whatever it is that makes them different.
Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she's always wished for, it's her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal? (2007 Newbery Honor Book)
Stanley Will Probably Be Fine
Nobody knows comics trivia like Stanley knows comics trivia. It’s what he takes comfort in when the world around him gets to be too much. And after he faints during a safety assembly, Stanley takes his love of comics up a level by inventing his own imaginary superhero, named John Lockdown, to help him through. Help is what he needs, because Stanley’s entered Trivia Quest — a giant comics-trivia treasure hunt — to prove he can tackle his worries, score VIP passes to Comic Fest, and win back his ex-best friend.
This uplifting story follows space-obsessed Lester Musselbaum as he experiences the challenges of his first days of public school: making friends, facing bullies, finding his "thing," and accidentally learning of his autism-spectrum diagnosis. A touching peek into the life of a sensitive autism-spectrum boy facing the everydayness of elementary school.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone, a teenager with Asperger's, is mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. In this story, Christopher sets out to solve the mysterious death of a neighborhood dog.
The London Eye Mystery
Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off — except Salim. Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners and follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. Ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.
The Real Boy
Oscar knows he’s different. He can’t remember where he comes from, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of magical herbs and their uses, and he just does not understand human interaction. As the apprentice to Caleb, the last magician in the magic-steeped Barrow, Oscar's job is to collect the herbs, prepare the charms and tinctures, do his chores, and avoid trouble. That changes when a mysterious destructive force arrives and it is up to Oscar and his friend Callie to protect the Barrow and its inhabitants.
The Someday Birds
Charlie’s perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan. When his father heads from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. This story is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an autistic boy who feels he doesn’t understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism
Holly loves doing experiments and learning new things in science class! But when she finds out the next experiment is making slime, she's worried. Slime is made with glue, and glue is sticky. Holly has sensory issues because of her autism and doesn't like anything sticky! With help from family and her teacher, Holly receives the accommodations and encouragement she needs to give slime a try.
Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome
Sam doesn't like his pancakes to touch, his coat hurts his skin, and his sister is annoyed by his incessant singing. But once he is diagnosed, teamwork-based support helps Sam's life become a little easier. The book includes 10 helpful tips geared toward children, showing them how to respect and accept differences as well as to interact with a classmate or friend with Asperger's.
Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down
This picture book explores sensory differences. For the young girl in the story, the vibration in her feet when she runs, the tap-tap-tap of her fork on the table at mealtime, the trickle of cool water running over her hand — these are the things that calm her jitters down. This book is for anyone who has ever felt the need for a wiggle, stomp, or squeeze!
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