By Sophia Rebolledo, SN Inclusion Blog Writer
One of the many extraordinary powers of a good book is representation. When we can relate to a specific character or story, we feel heard, seen, and valued. For those on the autism spectrum, understanding emotions, facial patterns, and making friends are everyday hardships in which these ten children’s stories about children on the autism spectrum experiencing these challenges firsthand can act as an excellent outlet for comfort, understanding, and inclusion.
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg
This story is about not-so-typical 12-year-old Candice Phee on the autism spectrum. Candace has many quirks, but she also has a loveable nature, the very best of intentions to ensure everyone around her is happy. This laugh-out-loud novel takes the audience through the journey of meeting her pet fish with an identity crisis, a friend who believes he came from another dimension, an age-old family feud, and a sick mom. But she is determined! While her methods are unique, Candice will do anything to make sure everyone is absolutely, categorically happy again.
Leah’s Voice by Lori Demonia
Inspired by two real-life sisters, “Leah’s Voice” is a loveable and heart-warming story about siblings who stick together through the challenges faced by the sister who has autism. Through kindness and devotion, one sister teaches by example the importance of including everyone and showing acceptance as they learn how to make friends. Young readers will find the sisters’ devotion motivating while also seeing how to be inclusive of others.
A Friend Like Simon by Kate Gaynor
“A Friend Like Simon” serves as a helpful introduction to autism for neuro-typical peers or siblings. The audience joins Simon’s journey to a mainstream school where his peers find it difficult to understand and cope with a somewhat ‘different’ student. This story encourages young readers to learn how to be patient and respectful with their autistic peers while also learning to appreciate the many ways an autistic child can contribute to a friendship and community.
Hello Roar, Little Dinosaur by Hazel Reeves
“Hello Roar, Little Dinosaur” is part of a series about a little dinosaur who exhibits behavior similar to children with high-functioning autism. Like children on the autism spectrum, little Roar thinks and goes about his life differently and realizes that that is what makes her special.
All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
This is the story of Zane, a zebra with autism, who worries that his friends and classmates will make fun of him because he stands out. As Zane learns that what makes him different is one of the many things that makes him feel special and guidance from his mother, Zane learns that autism is only one of many qualities that make him special.
The Autism Acceptance Book by Ellen Sabin
This book is filled with activities book and can act as an educational tool that engages children in learning to appreciate, respect, and embrace people's differences kindness. This interactive book presents the challenges faced by those on the autism spectrum and takes the audience through a learning journey to be more understanding and accepting of people with autism.
Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes by Jennifer Elder
“Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes,” tells the inspiring stories of a wide variety of accomplished and inspiring historical figures from scientists to artists – all of whom were likely on the autism spectrum. Young readers will learn about leaders like Lewis Carroll, Albert Einstein, and Andy Warhol!
Autism Is…? by Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan
“Autism Is…?” is a story of a young boy named Logan who hears his grandmother tell her friend that he has autism. As Logan wonders what she means, his grandma explains what autism is to him in this beautifully illustrated story and a child-friendly explanation.
How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz
Through powerful words and illustrations, Florida Frenz chronicles her journey of what it’s like to be on the autism spectrum, from figuring out how to read facial expressions to how to make friends. Diagnosed with autism as a two-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 15-year-old her experiences with autism and her explorations into figuring out popularity and how she has learned to handle peer pressure through fantastic insight and understanding.
Noah Chases the Wind by Michelle Worthington
In “Noah Chases the Wind,” the audience follows a beautifully illustrated book about a curious young boy with autism. Noah could see things that others couldn't, like the patterns in the dust that floated down on sunbeams. Noah loves science, especially the weather, and turned to books to provide him with the answers, until one day, there's one question they don't answer—and that is where Noah's windy adventure begins. This inspiring book captures those on the autism spectrum’s inquisitive nature, receiving several awards, including the silver medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Books Award and the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award.