Reading is paramount to structural and functional brain development in children and young adults.[1],[2]  Being able to relate to the point of view or the experiences of the main character in a book increases willingness for reading. As autistic children generally struggle more with reading than their non-ASD counterparts, finding relatable content is important. [3] The following 16 children’s books about autism offer perspectives from, and stories about, autistic individuals and family members. They cover everything from explaining what autism is and how to manage emotions to heartfelt novels about friendships and personal achievement. 

  1. The Boy With Big, Big Emotions

Beaming Books (2019)

Ages 4-8

This book explains what it’s like for one boy to have deep emotions and how he discovers he’s not the only one. Although the boy is not explicitly autistic, the book is relatable for any child with sensory processing differences or anxiety.

Written by Britney Winn Lee

2. What it is to be Me! 

Fairdale Publishing (2005)

Ages 4+

Danny is a boy with Asperger’s who humorously describes the good and bad of being him. Great for the entire family.

Written by Angela Wine

3. Tacos Anyone? ¿Alguien Quiere Tacos? 

Speech Kids Texas Press Inc. (2005)

Ages 4-7

This is a bilingual book about brothers. Michael is autistic and Thomas has difficulty playing with him until a therapist helps him understand what it’s like to be Michael.

Written by Marvie Ellis

4. Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?

Autism Asperger Publishing Company (2009)

Ages 4 – 8

Izzy takes you through her life as she learns to cope with sensory overload in new places and promotes the normalization of peers who struggle with sensory overload.

Written by Jennifer Veenendall

5. Autism Is… 

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2012)

Ages 5-8

A colorful and easily understandable conversation between a boy and his grandmother about what autism is.

Written by Ymkje Wideman-van Der Laan

6. All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism 

Magination Press (2015)

Ages 5 – 10

Zane the Zebra feels different from the rest of his peers because of his “autism stripe.” His mother teaches him to love and appreciate all of his stripes because they make him who he is. 

Written by Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer

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

The Innovation Press (2017)

Ages 6+

This book documents the life of Dr. Temple Grandin, a renowned scientist with ASD. Her story serves as an inspiration and comfort to millions of ASD individuals across the globe. The author melodically carries you through Grandin’s life to show how powerful different voices can be in this world.

Written by Julia Finley Mosca

8. My Brother Charlie

Scholastic (2010)

Ages 7-10

This book delivers a heart-warming description of what life is like with a sibling who has autism. Beautifully simple and relatable.

Written by Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete

9. How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl 

Creston Books (2013)

Ages 7-12

Florida, an ASD teen, shares her memoir. In it she details how to navigate the almost alien world of teenagers. She takes you through her learning processes with social cues, facial expressions, and peer pressure, among other things. This is a relatable guidebook for any autistic pre-teen.

Written by Florida Frenz

10. Can I Tell You about Asperger Syndrome? 

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2003)

Ages 7-15

Adam is a young boy with ASD. He uses stories and illustration to teach what ASD is, what it’s like to live with ASD, and how to help your peers with ASD by celebrating their differences and understanding their actions.

Written by Jude Welton

11. Different Like Me: My Book of Autism Heroes 

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2005)

Ages 8-12

This book looks at history through the lense of ASD. It gives short bios about iconic historical figures who found it difficult to fit in and who may have been on the spectrum. 

Written by Jennifer Elder

12. The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism 

Random House Trade Reprint Edition (2016)

Ages 8+

This is a brilliant peek into the mind of a nonverbal thirteen-year-old boy with ASD. A book that would benefit, ‘everybody who is working with nonverbal individuals with autism…’, according to Dr. Temple Grandin. It is undeniably sweet and uncomfortably honest.

Written by Naoki Higashida 

13. Planet Earth is Blue

Yearling (2020)

Ages 8-12

Nova is an intelligent twelve year old girl with autism. She tells about her love for astronomy and how her sister’s promise to watch the space shuttle launch helps her to function on her own. It is a tender story that tells about life as a foster child on the spectrum.

Written by Nicole Panteleakos

14. How to Look for a Lost Dog 

Usborne Publishing Ltd (2016)

Ages 9+

This is a novel about 11-year-old Rose who has ASD. She struggles to understand her peers. So, to help her out her father let’s her take in a stray dog. But when the dog goes missing, Rose doesn’t stop searching… A heart-warming and human story. Good for all ages.

Written by Ann M. Martin

15. Mocking Bird

Puffin Books (2011)

Ages 10 – 12

As a National Book Award Winner, this book gives a poignant description of Caitlin’s world. She has Asperger’s and always relied on her brother, Devon, to help her navigate the world. When Devon falls victim to a middle school shooting and her father is overtaken in grief, Caitlin has to figure out how to keep going. It’s a beautiful story of resilience told from the perspective of a young girl with ASD. “One of the most important novels of our time for young readers.”

Written by Kathryn Erskine

16. The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome 

Jessica Kingsley Publishers (2012)

Ages 10-17

A “secret” guide to social rules of life that may seem strange or confusing to children with ASD.

Written by Jennifer Cook O’Toole

This list of books was compiled from the following sources:

  1. The Autism Behavior Analysis Programs Guide
  2. Reading RocketsPBS
  3. More Good DaysParenting Blog

[1] Neuroreport, 25(5), pages 347-352 (2014)

[2] Annual Review of Neuroscience, 30, pages 475-503 (2007)

[3] Journal of Autism and Development Disorders, 36, 911 (2016)

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