Tech & Media
5 Picture Books That Represent Kids On The Autism Spectrum
BY DYAN ROBSON, AND NEXT COMES L
Photo © dantes1401/Twenty20
Mar 13, 2019
It's important for all children to feel represented in literature in some way, but it's especially important for kids with disabilities and differences. I want my son to see himself in the characters he reads about so it's important to me to find good quality autism picture books for him and his brother to read.
Unfortunately, when it comes to autism picture books, there are a lot of poorly written stories that frankly miss the mark. While I have read a lot of duds that have negative tones, don't be discouraged — I have also found a lot of really great autism picture books along the way, too.
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This list of five picture books are some of my favourites. You'll notice there is plenty of diversity shown in these books, too — from how the characters are depicted in art, to how the viewpoints are portrayed in their words. For instance, there's a story written from a sibling's standpoint and one written from a classmate's view. And, of course, there's some written from the autistic child's point of view as well.
These autism picture books will make a lovely addition to your shelves at home or your child's classroom.
Noah Chases the Wind (by Michelle Worthington, illustrated by Joseph Cowman)
While this book doesn't specifically mention autism in the story's text, the main character, Noah, knows that he sees, feels and thinks in ways that differ from other kids. Simply put, Noah knows he is different. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous in this book and the story is beautiful. Recommended for ages 3-8.
Why Johnny Doesn't Flap: NT is OK! (by Clay & Gail Morton, illustrated by Alex Merry)
This picture book might be my favourite on the entire list, simply because it is so different. Instead of focusing on how autistic kids are different, this book discusses why neurotypical (a.k.a. non-autistic kids) are different and why that's OK, too. I just love how it flips the narrative around and I catch myself giggling every time I read it. Recommended for ages 4-8.
All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism (by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin)
Zane the zebra worries that his classmates will only see how different he is because of his autism. His mother helps him to see that he is so much more than just his autism diagnosis. The illustrations are adorable and I love how the text focuses on appreciating everything that makes an individual unique. Recommended for ages 5-8.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin (by Julia Finley Mosca, illustrated by Daniel Rieley)
Based on the life of Dr. Temple Grandin, a famous female and autistic scientist, this book talks about how, despite her challenges as a child, she grew up to do amazing things. It mentions some of the sensory issues common in autism and that being autistic makes you different, not less of a person. I love it for the fun illustrations and because it features an autistic female character. There are plenty of autism picture books that feature male characters, so it's nice to have some female representation as well. Recommended for ages 5-10.
Looking After Louis (by Lesley Ely, illustrated by Polly Dunbar)
This picture book is about an autistic boy named Louis from the point of view of a girl who sits beside him at school. What I like about this book is that it shows how some non-verbal or pre-verbal children with autism communicate using echolalia (repeating or echoing parts of a phrase). I also like how it includes Louis's aide in the story, helping kids become familiar with why they might have an aide in their very own classroom. Recommended for ages 7-10.