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Autism: Books For Kids

Around 1 in 68 children in the United States have Autism (CDC). We've pulled the best children's books on the topic for you to enjoy and learn from. Whether you have a family member with Autism or not, these children's books can help spread awareness and help stimulate empathy and understanding for those with Autism.

Top 10 Autism Books

A Boy Called Bat book
#1
A Boy Called Bat
Written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10
Thoughts from B is for Bookworm

I absolutely adore this book. Bat is a wonderful, developed character that can really help children reading understand and have empathy for those on the Autism spectrum.

The first book in a funny, heartfelt, and irresistible young middle grade series starring an unforgettable young boy on the autism spectrum, from acclaimed author Elana K. Arnold and with illustrations by Charles Santoso. For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet. "This sweet and thoughtful novel chronicles Bat’s experiences and challenges at school with friends and teachers and at home with his sister and divorced parents. Approachable for younger or reluctant readers while still delivering a powerful and thoughtful story" (from the review by Brightly.com, which named A Boy Called Bat a best book of 2017).

Al Capone Does My Shirts book
#3
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Written and illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister Natalie. A Newbery Honor Book & ALA Notable Book. Reprint. Jr Lib Guild & Children's BOMC.

Ian's Walk book
#4
Ian's Walk
Written by Laurie Lears and illustrated by Karen Ritz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

When her autistic little brother, Ian, wanders off while on a walk to the park, Julie must try to see the world through his eyes in order to find him. Full color.

My Brother Charlie book
#5
My Brother Charlie
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

"Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows. Actress and national autism spokesperson Holly Robinson Peete collaborates with her daughter on this book based on Holly's 10-year-old son, who has autism.

Counting by 7s book
#6
Counting by 7s
Written and illustrated by Holly Goldberg Sloan
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

A Whole New Ballgame book
#7
A Whole New Ballgame
Written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by Tim Probert
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

"From the first morning with their odd new teacher, fifth grade is full of shocking surprises for best friends Rip and Red"--

A Friend for Henry book
#8
A Friend for Henry
Written by Jenn Bailey and illustrated by Mika Song
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5
Thoughts from Mom of Boys

I love the unique perspective this story is told from and the way that both the text and illustrations convey that perspective in a way that's relatable and creates empathy for Henry's point of view, and the opportunity it provides to teach other children how it may feel to have autism. Plus it's a great little story about making friends!

In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, 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.

My Brother Otto book
#9
My Brother Otto
Written by Meg Raby and illustrated by Elisa Pallmer
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

This engaging picture book shows everyday life with little crow siblings when one of them is on the autism spectrum. My Brother Otto is a child-friendly, endearing, and fun picture book for children about the love, acceptance, and understanding a sister, Piper, has for her little brother Otto, who is on the autism spectrum. The book provides explanations for Otto's differences and quirkiness in an easy-to-understand language, and highlights Otto's desires for adventure and love--just like his peers. To be more specific, My Brother Otto is a sweet story about a sister and a brother who engage in common, everyday experiences in their own unique way with the idea that kindness and understanding always win! Meg Raby holds a Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology with a certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and has several years of experience working with children ages 2-17 on the autism spectrum. Meg recently started a booming handle on Instagram, called @bedtime.stories.forevermore, promoting literacy and highlighting only the best in children's books. This is her first book. Elisa Pallmer studied design at Escuela de Diseño del INBA and English Literature at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Her focus is on illustrations for children, and she lives in Mexico City.

Bat and the End of Everything book
#10
Bat and the End of Everything
Written by Elana K. Arnold and illustrated by Charles Santoso
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

The third book in the funny and joyful series Katherine Applegate has called “tender and important,” by National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold. Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat) has been the caretaker for Thor, the best skunk kit in the world...but the last day of third grade is quickly approaching, and Thor is almost ready to be released into the wild. The end of school also means that Bat has to say good-bye to his favorite teacher, and he worries about the summer care of Babycakes, their adorable class pet. Not only that, but his best friend is leaving for a long vacation in Canada. Summer promises good things, too, like working with his mom at the vet clinic and hanging out with his sister, Janie. But Bat can’t help but feel that everything is coming to an end. National Book Award finalist Elana K. Arnold returns with the third story starring an unforgettable boy on the autism spectrum.

Bonus Recommendations

  1. Team Players - Cassie must learn that you can’t “fix” someone else after a girl with Aspergers joins her softball team in the fourth and final book of the Home Team series from New York Times bestselling author and sports-writing legend Mike Lupica. Cassie Bennett is great at being in charge. She always knows what to do to lead her teams to victory, keep her many groups of friends together, or fix any problem that comes her way. So when Sarah Milligan, an autistic girl with unreal softball skills, joins Cassie’s team, Cassie’s sure she can help her fit in with the team. But before long it’s obvious that being around so many people is really hard for Sarah, and the more Cassie tries to reach out and involve her, the more Sarah pushes her away, sometimes literally. It doesn’t help that Cassie’s teammates aren’t as interested in helping Sarah as they are in making sure they make it to the new softball All-Star Tournament that’ll be televised just like the Little League World Series. Soon no one besides Cassie seems to even want Sarah on the team anymore, and the harder Cassie tries to bring everyone together, the worse things seem to get. Cassie Bennett never backs down from a challenge, but can she realize that maybe the challenge isn’t fixing a problem in someone else, but in herself? Or will her stubbornness lead her to lose more than just softball games?

  2. Scarlet Ibis - Twelve-year-old Scarlet doesn’t have an easy life. She’s never known her dad, her mom suffers from depression, and her younger brother Red has Asperger’s and relies heavily on her to make the world a safe place for him. Scarlet does this by indulging Red’s passion for birds, telling him stories about the day they’ll go to Trinidad and see all the wonderful birds there (especially his beloved Scarlet Ibis), saving her money to take him to the zoo, helping him collect bird feathers, and even caring for a baby pigeon who is nesting outside his window.But things with her mom are getting harder, and after a dangerous accident, Scarlet and Red are taken into foster care and separated. As Scarlet struggles to cope with the sudden changes in her life and her complex feelings towards her mom, the one thing she won’t give up on is finding Red. Nothing is going to get in her way—even if it might destroy the new possibilities offered to her by her foster family.

  3. This Beach Is Loud! - Patience, understanding, and a soothing exercise saves the beach day when excitement turns to sensory overload. Going to the beach is exciting. But it can also be busy. And loud. Sand can feel hot or itchy or sticky…and it gets everywhere! In This Beach Is Loud!, a sensitive boy gets overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations at the beach. Luckily, this kiddo’s dad has a trick up his sleeve to help his son face these unexpected obstacles. Combining accessible storytelling and playful design, This Beach Is Loud! gently offers practical advice for coping with new experiences to sensitive children on and off the autism spectrum.

  4. Rules - Frustrated at life with an autistic brother, twelve-year-old Catherine longs for a normal existence but her world is further complicated by a friendship with a young paraplegic.

  1. The Chalk Rainbow - The Chalk Rainbow explores difference and diversity through a family living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It’s also a story of unconditional love, of trust and of learning to look at the world through the eyes of others. The story is told by Zane’s older sister in a way that young children can easily relate to. The ending is uplifting as all members of the family learn to look at things differently and find a way to move forward together.

  2. Understanding Sam and Asperger Syndrome - When Sam, a young boy who has trouble making friends at school, wanders away from home to the fair alone, his parents take him to the doctor where he is diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.

  3. Ethan's Story - "When Ethan Rice was four years old, he was diagnosed with high-functioning autism. He decided that he wanted to tell his first grade class that he had autism on his seventh birthday. His parents asked him many questions about what having autism felt like for him and wrote his answers down as a reference for when he told his class. Those answers are now published so more people can understand what it is like to have autism. While each child on the spectrum has unique challenges and strengths, Ethan's Story; My Life with Autism is Ethan's own story."-- P. [4] of cover.

  4. Looking After Louis - When a new boy with autism joins their classroom, the children try to understand his world and to include him in theirs.

  1. Mockingbird - Ten-year-old Caitlin, who has Asperger's Syndrome, struggles to understand emotions, show empathy, and make friends at school, while at home she seeks closure by working on a project with her father.

  2. The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee - Candice Phee isn't a typical twelve-year-old girl. She has more than her fair share of quirks, but she also has the very best of intentions and an unwavering determination to make sure everyone around her is happy—which is no easy feat when dealing with a 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 on a mission. Her methods might be unique, but Candice will do whatever it takes to restore order to her world and make sure everyone is absolutely, categorically happy again.

  3. Cooper and the Big Apple - Follow Cooper and his adventurous companion Jennifer as they travel from the Texas Hill Country to the Big Apple! Cooper the cat is purrfectly content with his life in Texas. So when his best friend Jennifer tells him they're taking a trip to New York City, he's not really sure what all the fuss is about. But, like a good friend, he embarks on the new adventure with her. Jennifer takes Cooper to climb the Statue of Liberty, to visit the Stock Exchange, and to attend a Broadway musical, and to see many other New York City landmarks. At each new location, Cooper realizes the Big Apple is not what he expected and even more than he imagined!

  4. My Friend with Autism - Children describe what makes their autistic friend different but also explain the activities at which he excels, in a book with coloring pages and resources for parents and educators on a CD-ROM.

  1. Noah Chases the Wind - A magical adventure that celebrates the wonderful inquisitiveness of all children

  2. Different Like Me - Profiles twenty famous individuals who may have been autistic, including Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, Dian Fossey, and Glen Gould.

  3. Tacos Anyone? An Autism Story - Summary: Michael is a four year old boy with autism. His older brother, Thomas, doesn't understand why Michael behaves the way he does. The therapist teaches Thomas how to play with Michael, making sibling time fun again. This fully color illustrated, bilingual (English and Spanish) children's book is written for young readers, parents, siblings, family members, and professionals who work with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Recipient of the 2005 Barbara Jordan Media Award.

  4. All My Stripes - Zane rushes home to tell his mother about problems he faced during his school day, and she reminds him that while others may only see his "autism stripe," he has stripes for honesty, caring, and much more.

  1. Everybody is Different - A book specifically designed to answer various questions that brothers and sisters of young people with autism may have, including "What is autism?", "Is there a cure?," and "Why does my brother or sister not look at me?"

  2. Slug Days - A charismatic illustrated novel about the ups and downs of school and home life for one little girl with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  3. I See Things Differently - "This book will help children understand what autism is and how it affects someone who has it."

  4. Leah's Voice - Leah's Voice is a story that touches on the difficulties children encounter when they meet a child with special needs such as autism. Children who have a brother or sister with special needs may find it difficult to explain to their friends, or feel disappointed when their friends aren't more understanding. Leah's Voice tells the story of two sisters facing these challenges. Through her kindness and devotion, one sister teaches by example the importance of including everyone and showing acceptance.

  1. A Friend Like Simon - "When a new boy joins Matthew's school, he's just not sure if he wants a friend like Simon. But a school trip to the funfair soon helps to change his mind"--Page 4 of cover.

Did you enjoy our autism book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

Table of Contents
  1. Top 10 Autism Books
  2. Bonus (21)
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