23 Books About Autistic Kids For All Students
Books about autistic kids are important for all classrooms. They let neurodivergent kids see themselves in literature. Plus, they help every student develop appreciation and empathy for various people’s strengths, personality traits, and challenges.
Books about autistic kids can also help get rid of negative stereotypes and inaccurate generalizations about people on the autism spectrum. To put together this list of recent titles, we looked for Own Voices titles where possible. We prioritized those that star neurodivergent kids, rather than relegating them to secondary roles. We also looked for positive reviews and reactions from members of the autism community.
A note on language: It’s important to be sensitive to the preferences of students and families in your school who are members of the autism community. We intentionally chose primarily identity-first language (“autistic kids”) for this post as opposed to person-first (“kids with autism”). Based on this guidance from the Asperger/Autism Network, we used the term “Asperger profile” when a book on our list referenced Asperger’s Syndrome, which is no longer an official diagnosis.
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Picture Books About Autistic Kids
1. Little Senses series by Samantha Cotterill (Pre-K-1)
These Own Voices books honor autistic kids, but the common experiences they portray are relatable for many others, too. It can be hard to cope with unexpected changes, try new things, stay calm in overwhelming situations, or interpret how another person feels. Each story encourages readers by weaving in strategies that might help.
2. A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey (Pre-K-2)
Henry really wants a friend, but it must be the right fit. He wishes for someone who likes the swings like he does, isn’t too loud, and follows the rules. The sweet ending encourages all kids to keep trying to connect. The author wrote this story to honor her son, who has an Asperger’s profile, and his efforts to form friendships with classmates.
3. My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal (Pre-K-3)
This Own Voices book by a mother-daughter duo will warm your heart and start essential discussions. Trinity is a black, transgender girl on the autism spectrum. When Trinity doesn’t feel like her hair reflects her identity, her mother doesn’t stop until she has the rainbow curls that are truly her.
4. Benji, the Bad Day, and Me by Sally J. Pla (K-2)
On tough days, Benji likes to be cozy in his box fort or wrapped up like a burrito. When big brother Sam also has a hard day, it’s connecting with Benji that ends up helping him feel better. The author’s note explains how the story was inspired by her sons and was written to honor the variety of experiences of both autistic kids and their siblings.
5. Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged by Zetta Elliott (Pre-K–1)
Rhyming text describes an autistic boy in a relatable way. Benny likes trains, prefers seedless grapes, and knows a lot about stars. He also tends to get upset when the room is too loud, he misunderstands jokes, and he definitely doesn’t like to be hugged. This is a sweet story about accepting and appreciating others just as they are.
6. Isaac and His Amazing Asperger Superpowers! by Melanie Walsh (Pre-K–1)
Isaac describes his “superpowers,” such as being highly sensitive to sound and knowing many facts, in positive terms. He also shares the ways that he copes with the intensity of his experiences, such as looking at people’s foreheads when it feels overwhelming to look in their eyes. While simple, this title is a useful introduction to Asperger profiles for young students.
7. Noah Chases the Wind by Michelle Worthington (K–3)
This story is a character study of Noah, a sensitive young boy who “liked to find out how things worked, where they came from, and where they went.” The author says that while she wrote this book to honor all inquisitive children, she especially hopes those with sensory challenges and on the autism spectrum will be able to see themselves in Noah—an important goal.
8. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca (1–5)
We love that Dr. Temple Grandin, an autism self-advocate, has become an icon for how thinking differently can be an asset. This story of how she became an animal scientist and public speaker, told in engaging rhyme, makes a strong case for why the world needs “brains of ALL kinds!”
Middle Grade and YA Books About Autistic Kids
9. Slug Days stories series by Sara Leach (1-3)
Lauren, like all of us, has good days and trying ones. Early chapter book readers get a first-person look at her everyday tests and triumphs—impacted by her autism, but relatable to many neurotypical kids, too.
10. West Meadows Detectives series by Liam O’Donnell (2–4)
Myron is a young sleuth who speaks frankly and positively about being autistic. We love how his personality traits play off those of his sidekicks as they work together to solve school mysteries.
11. Bat series by Elana K. Arnold (2–5)
Bat reflects so many of today’s kids: He’s biracial, his parents are divorced, and, though it’s mostly not labeled, he is autistic. Bat finds a baby skunk and has to figure out how to care for it while juggling the rest of his third grade responsibilities.
12. Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit (3-6)
Vivy Cohen is the only girl and the only autistic kid on her baseball team. And, she’s determined to be the team’s pitcher. The story is told mostly in letters between Vivy and her major league pitching idol.
13. The Many Mysteries of The Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit (3-7)
Lara and her sister Caroline start a detective agency but end up unexpectedly diving into some family secrets alongside their other mysteries. Themes also include sibling conflict and competition, how autism helps shape each sister’s personality, and the family’s Jewish traditions. There’s much-needed positive representation of assistive-tech device use, too.
14. The View From the Very Best House in Town by Meera Trehan (4-7)
This novel explores the evolution of a middle school friendship in a unique way. It alternates between the points of view of Sam, Asha, and a local mansion, Donneybrooke. While it isn’t an Own Voices book, we like that this story portrays two autistic friends who are similar in some ways but different in others. The story includes some bullying—from both peers and adults—that could be helpful to sensitively unpack with kids.
15. Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos (4-7)
It’s 1986, shortly before the Challenger launch. This Own Voices title stars Nova, a nonverbal autistic girl who is in the foster care system. Nova desperately wants to find her missing older sister, Bridget, to watch the launch together. While the ending is very sad, it’s also hopeful.
16. A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (5-8)
When Addie learns about the witch trials in her town’s history, she feels a deep connection to her own experiences as an autistic person. She wants to do something to honor these peoples’ persecution. This is an Own Voices novel. Know that it includes significant bullying and mistreatment of an autistic person that will be important to discuss with students.
17. & 18. Can You See Me? and Do You Know Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott (5-7)
If you’re looking for books about autistic kids adjusting to middle school, you’ll want to check out these titles. Both were co-written by an autistic teen. They star Tally, an autistic sixth grader busy figuring out how to be herself at her new school.
19. Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin (4–6)
Rose, a fifth grader with an Asperger’s profile, has a complicated family life. When unexpected events lead to a difficult situation involving her beloved dog Rain, readers will be rooting for her.
20. The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla (4–6)
Charlie, who is autistic, must take an unconventional cross-country trip with his family to seek medical care for his injured father. When everything feels unfamiliar, he relies on his fascination with birds to stay grounded.
21. M Is for Autism by The Students of Limpsfield Grange School and Vicky Martin (4 and up)
Written by a group of students from a school for girls on the autism spectrum, this story is told from the perspectives of both autistic teen “M” and her mother.
22. The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews (9 and up)
When all their relatives abandon them, Sam and his brother Avery break into empty houses for places to stay. When they unexpectedly get folded into the big, busy DeLainey family, Sam has to figure out how to reconcile his past and his future. While it’s Avery, who is autistic in this book and not the main character, this book is written by an autistic author and has received positive reviews for its representation of both autism and anxiety.
23. When My Heart Joins The Thousand by A.J. Steiger (10 and up)
This Own Voices, older YA novel is a love story between an autistic teen and a teen with a severe medical disability. Their journey to figure out how to be together and how to move towards adulthood is incredibly poignant.
What are your favorite books about autistic kids? Let us know in the comments!
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