Reading with toddlers and preschoolers is not only a great bonding opportunity but it can help them start to develop important language skills. Books also help children learn about themselves and the world around them.
It is important for children to have books they can relate to and see themselves in. If you have a young child on the autism spectrum here are some great books featuring neurodivergent characters and covering autism-related topics.
Headphones: A Book for Children With Autism & Sensory Disorders by Kira Elbeyli
Recommended Ages: Baby – 10 years
Headphones: A Book for Children with Autism & Sensory Disorders, introduces children with autism and other sensory sensitivities to the idea of wearing headphones. The book aims to help children feel comfortable and confident in their new headphones.
To help children remember what to do when their environment gets too loud, the book tells a story in a social story-type format. Headphones also repeats an easily memorized rhyme throughout the book to help children remember to use their headphones in loud environments.
Besides being a great book for children on the autism spectrum, author Kira Elbeyli explains how loud environments may feel to someone with autism or sensory sensitivities, making it a great book for siblings, friends, and classmates too!
My Friend with Autism by Beverly Bishop
Recommended Ages: 2 -7 years
My Friend with Autism uses vivid illustrations and a charming storyline to help foster tolerance and understanding among peers.
Written to help educate her son’s classmates about his autism, Beverly Bishop’s book is narrated by a student explaining that his friend with autism is good at some things and not so good at other things―just like everyone else! My Friend with Autism addresses sensory sensitivity, communication differences, unique ways of playing, and more!
The book also includes notes for adults with additional facts and explanations to help educate teachers and other parents about autism.
A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey
Recommended Ages: 3 – 5 years
A Friend for Henry explores what it can be like for a child with autism, trying to make friends. The book tells the story from Henry’s perspective, a little boy on the autism spectrum, looking for a friend. Henry is looking for a friend who shares, listens, and likes things to stay the same and in order, just like him.
Author Jenn Bailey based A Friend for Henry on her own son’s struggles to make friends at school.
Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins
Recommended Ages: 3 – 7 years
Siblings often have a hard time understanding one another, but things can be even more difficult when one sibling is neurodivergent. Me and My Sister is based on author Rose Robbins’ own childhood and explores what it is like growing up with a sibling on the autism spectrum.
The siblings in Me and My Sister communicate and behave in different ways. They are unique people with different likes and dislikes. Despite the occasional bickering and confusion, the book explores how these siblings find new ways to love and understand each other.
This Beach Is Loud! (Little Senses) by Samantha Cotterill
Recommended Ages: 3 – 7 years
Perfect for children with autism or other sensory sensitivities, This Beach is Loud! tells the story of a little boy who gets overwhelmed by all the sights, sounds, and sensations at the beach and how his dad saves the day with tips and tricks to help his son overcome his sensory obstacles.
This Beach is Loud! offers practical advice for kids (and parents) on how to cope with new and overwhelming sensory experiences.
Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism by Laurie Lears
Recommended Ages: 3 -7 years
Ian’s Walk: A Story about Autism, tells the story of a sister and her relationship to her brother with autism. Julie is excited to go to the park and feed the ducks with her older sister, but she doesn’t want to take her little brother Ian. Julie thinks her brother’s reactions to the world around him make him look silly.
However, when Ian wanders off on his own, Julie must change her perspective and see things through his eyes in order to find him.
Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book by Celeste Shally
Recommended Ages: 3 – 7 years
An amazing book all about friendship, Since We’re Friends tells the story of Matt who has autism, and his best friend. The two boys love playing sports, watching movies, reading, and talking about animals. Matt’s best friend understands him and works with him to help turn any frustration Matt may experience throughout the day into excitement.
Noah Chases the Wind by Michelle Worthington
Recommended Ages: 3 – 8 years
This award-winning book is about a little boy who sees the world differently. Noah sees, hears, feels, and thinks in ways that other people don’t always understand. He also asks a lot of questions. Noah also loves science, especially the weather, and when he has a question about the weather that he can’t find the answer to, that is where his adventure begins.
Noah Chases the Wind is a picture book that celebrates the inquisitive nature of all children, including those on the autism spectrum, who cannot stop asking a question until an answer has been unearthed.
As a bonus, the book contains a page of information for parents, caregivers, and educators about the importance of helping children feel good about their differences and know that being different is okay.
A Day With No Words by Tiffany Hammond
Recommended Ages: 4+ years
Written by a mother with autism, raising two boys with autism, A Day With No Words follows a mother and son duo on a day where they use a tablet to communicate.
The story is told from the young boy’s perspective and explores what life may look like for families who need to use nonverbal forms of communication.
All My Stripes: A Story for Children With Autism by Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer
Recommended Ages: 4 – 7 years
This is a book that teaches kids to embrace differences both in themselves and in those around them.
All My Stripes: A Story for Children With Autism tells the story of Zane the Zebra who feels different and worries his classmates only see his autism stripe, and not all his other stripes. With the help of his mom, Zane learns to embrace all his stripes, including his autism stripe, and that all his stripes make him who he is.
The book also includes a reading guide for parents and caregivers with information about autism and tips for finding support.
Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK! by Clay Morton & Gail Morton
Recommended Ages: 4 – 10 years
Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is OK! is told from the perspective of a young boy with autism. In the book, the narrator compares his behavior with the behavior of his neurotypical friend Johnny. Johnny doesn’t have a routine, speaks in idioms, and is never on time, but that is okay. The book teaches kids that the idea of “normal” is a matter of perspective.