Books by Theme

Picture Books Featuring Characters with Autism or Asperger’s

Understanding autism can begin with stories about a child, sibling, friend, and classmate with autism or Asperger syndrome. This collection includes picture books for elementary age children and their families. For older kids (ages 9-12), browse this list: Middle Grade Books Featuring Neurodiverse Characters.

A Boy Called Bat

A Boy Called Bat

By: Elana Arnold
Illustrated by: Charles Santoso
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

A Friend for Henry

By: Jenn Bailey
Illustrated by: Mika Song
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

A Friend Like Simon

By: Kate Gaynot
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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

A Manual for Marco: Living, Learning, and Laughing With an Autistic Sibling

By: Shaila Abdullah
Illustrated by: Iman Tejpar
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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.

Benji, the Bad Day and Me

Benji, the Bad Day and Me

By: Sally J. Pla
Illustrated by: Ken Min
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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. See our interview with the author, Sally J. Pla 

Crow Boy

Crow Boy

By: Taro Yashima
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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? Making Friends with an Autistic Kid

By: Daniel Share-Strom
Illustrated by: Naghmeh Afshinjah
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

"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.

I Just Don't Like the Sound of No!

I Just Don't Like the Sound of No!

By: Julia Cook
Illustrated by: Kelsey De Weerd
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism

By: Pat Thomas
Genre: Nonfiction
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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

Ian's Walk: A Story about Autism

By: Laurie Lears
Illustrated by: Karen Ritz
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

It's Hard To Be a Verb!

It's Hard To Be a Verb!

By: Julia Cook
Illustrated by: Carrie Hartman
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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 and Ben

By: Lulu Delacre
Illustrated by: Katharine Swanson
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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.

Looking after Louis

Looking after Louis

By: Lesley Ely
Illustrated by: Polly Dunbar
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

My Brother Charlie

My Brother Charlie

By: Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Elizabeth Peete
Illustrated by: Shane Evans
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

My Friend with Autism

By: Beverly Bishop
Illustrated by: Craig Bishop
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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!

My Mouth Is a Volcano!

By: Julia Cook
Illustrated by: Carrie Hartman
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

My Wandering Dreaming Mind

By: Merriam Sarcia Saunders
Illustrated by: Tammie Lyon
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

My Whirling Twirling Motor

By: Merriam Sarcia Saunders
Illustrated by: Tammie Lyon
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

Pedro's Whale

Pedro's Whale

By: Paula Kluth
Illustrated by: Justin Canha
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

Personal Space Camp

By: Julia Cook
Illustrated by: Carrie Hartman
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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.

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

By: Julia Finley Mosca
Illustrated by: Daniel Rieley
Genre: Biography, Nonfiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe. Also included are fun facts, a timeline of events, and a note from Temple.

Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism

Too Sticky! Sensory Issues with Autism

By: Jen Malia
Illustrated by: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome

By: Clarabelle van Niekerk, Liezl Venter
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down

By: Lindsey Rowe Parker
Illustrated by: Rebecca Burgess
Genre: Fiction
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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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