With a seemingly infinite number of books in a never-ending library, online and hardcopies, it is easy to get lost in the resources and overwhelmed, particularly in a topic as complex as autism. With that in mind, we have complied a list of the best children’s books about autism and the neurodiversity spectrum.
Autism is a difficult subject to understand not just for adults, it can be hard to explain to children as well. Our team at Autism Spectrum Australia (Aspect) have curated this list of children’s books that we feel do a stellar job of explaining and representing autism and neurodiversity in a positive and enjoyable way, and that celebrate the strengths and diversity of the child
With both families and children in mind, these books are aimed at both families that have neurordivergent children, and those that have Autistic classmates or friends and want to learn more.
- Through the Eyes of me – Jon Roberts
Through the Eyes of Me is a beautiful, colourful picture book for children which gives insight into the world of a child on the autism spectrum. Readers will meet 4-year-old Kya who loves to run, read, look at – and rip up – stickers. Through the book, children will learn why Kya does certain things, doesn’t like somethings, and really loves other things.
This wonderful book is an ideal tool for teaching children about autism and life as a child on the autism spectrum.
- All Cats Are on the Autism Spectrum – Kathy Hoopman
All Cats are on the Autism Spectrum is an updated version of All Cats have Asperger Syndrome (2006) that Kathy Hoopman also wrote. Providing an engaging and gentle introduction to autism, All Cats takes a playful look at the autism world, bringing to life common characteristics such as sensory sensitivities, social difficulties and communication issues.
This book highlights all the joys and challenges of being on the autism spectrum, giving the reader a strong sense of the dignity, individuality and potential of autistic people.
- All Dogs Have ADHD – Kathy Hoopman
This joyful revised edition of All Dogs Have ADHD takes an inspirational and affectionate look at Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Accompanied by delightful canine images, it explores a variety of traits recognisable to those who are familiar with ADHD. Coloured dog photographs bring to life ADHD characteristics.
Combining humour with understanding, it celebrates the joys and recognizes the difficulties of raising a child with ADHD and celebrates what it means to be considered different.
- A Friend Like Simon – Kaye Gaynor
Irish publishing house Special Stories Publishing, in conjunction with Irish Autism Action, has released an exciting and unique new children's book focusing on young children on the autism spectrum. The book is beautifully illustrated by Irish artist Caitriona Sweeney and is designed to introduce all children, especially those in mainstream school, to an autistic child.
The story begins with Matthew greeting his new classmate Simon on his first day at a new school. When Mathew realises Simon is a little different to his other friends, he's just not sure if he wants to have 'a friend like Simon'. However, a school trip to the funfair soon helps to change his mind!
- My Brother Charlie – Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete
Callie is very proud of her brother Charlie. He’s good at so many things - swimming, playing the piano, running fast. Charlie has a special way with animals, especially their dog, Harriett.
But sometimes Charlie gets very quiet. His words get locked inside him, and he seems far away. Then, when Callie and Charlie start to play, Charlie is back to laughing, holding hands, having fun. Charlie is like any other boy – and he is on the autism spectrum.
In this story, told from a sister’s point of view, we meet a family whose oldest son teaches them important lessons about togetherness, hope, tolerance, and love.
Holly Robinson Peete, bestselling author, actress, and national autism spokesperson, has paired with her daughter, Ryan, to co-author this uplifting book based on their own personal experiences with Holly’s son and Ryan’s brother, RJ, who is on the autism spectrum.
- Different Like Me: My book of autism heroes – Jennifer Elder
Different Like Me introduces children aged eight to 12 years to famous, inspirational figures from the world of science, art, math, literature, philosophy and comedy.
Eight-year-old Quinn, a young boy on the autism spectrum, tells young readers about the achievements and characteristics of his autism heroes, from Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey and Wassily Kandinsky to Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others. All excel in different fields, but are united by the fact that they often found it difficult to fit in - just like Quinn.
- How to Be Human: Diary of an Autistic Girl – Florida Frenz
With powerful words and pictures Florida Frenz chronicles her journey figuring out how to read facial expressions, how to make friends, how to juggle all the social cues that make school feel like a complicated maze.
Diagnosed Autistic as a two-year-old, Florida is now an articulate 15-year-old whose explorations into how kids make friends, what popularity means, how to handle peer pressure will resonate with any pre-teen. For those wondering what it's like inside an Autistic child's head, Florida's book provides amazing insight and understanding. Reading how she learns how to be human makes us all feel a little less alien.
- Leah’s Voice – Lori Demonia
Leah’s Voice is a story that touches on the difficulties children encounter when they meet an autistic child or a child with a disability. Siblings may find it hard to explain to their friends, or feel disappointed when others aren’t understanding. This book 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.