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Best Books by Age for Kids with Autism or ASD | Pre-Schoolers to Young Adults

February 18, 2022
By: Behavioral Innovations
autism friendly reading books, best books for children with autism

Kids with autism spectrum disorder (also known as ASD or autism) are unique. Every child has his own abilities, her own interests, and their own needs. To help you navigate the plethora of options for kids on the spectrum, we have identified some books that can be helpful for children across all ages – from toddlers to young adults.

Before we discuss specific reading options, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. What is your goal for your child? When considering books for kids with autism, consider the goal you have for your child. Do you want them to read it to themselves? Will someone be reading the book to them? Are you using the book to build a certain skill? Are you simply trying to foster an interest in books and reading? Are you using books to support your child’s special interests?
  2. What are your child’s special interests? Since many children with autism spectrum disorder have special interests, one thing to consider is what interest the child has. For instance, if a child likes trains, you might consider getting some books about trains in order to foster and support their interest in trains.
  3. What skills do you want your child to develop? In addition to books about your child’s special interests, you might consider getting books that help your child with specific skills. Books that discuss how to complete basic self-care tasks like brushing one’s teeth, or books about emotional regulation, such as how to identify feelings and what to do when they are angry may be good options depending on the child’s needs. Other helpful books could be books about social and communication skills, such as how to get along with siblings, or books that talk about having a new baby in the family. Books about autism spectrum disorder written for different ages or developmental levels may also be helpful.
  4. What is beneficial for children with autism? Even though there are certain books that could be very helpful for your child, some books are not necessarily applicable to most children with autism. It’s best to focus on books that are likely to be beneficial for kids with ASD. We’ll discuss some of those books below.
  5. What is your child’s developmental level (not just age)? It’s important to note that even if a book is written with a particular age group in mind, it doesn’t mean that children outside that age range shouldn’t read it or have it read to them. For instance, if a 12-year-old is developmentally delayed and has a lower comprehension or reading ability than other typically developing 12-year-old children, it’s okay to get books for that child that are written for younger kids.

Book Recommendations for Children with ASD

Below is a list of book recommendations for children with autism broken down by age groups including young children, preteens, and teenagers or young adults. However, remember, the age of the child should not be the deciding factor when selecting a book for a child with autism. Instead, the child’s needs, abilities, goals, and interests should guide which books you select for them.

Books for Young Children with Autism (Age 3 to 12 years)

  • TITLE: All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism
    • AUTHOR: Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 4-8 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book presents a story about a zebra named Zane, who has autism. The story explores Zane’s feelings about how his differences make him stand out from other children.
  • TITLE: Russell's World: A Story for Kids About Autism
    • AUTHOR: Charles A. Amenta
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 4-8 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book discusses a child with autism named Russell. The book talks about how Russell is different from other kids and how his family is different from other families.
  • TITLE: Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears?
    • AUTHOR: Jennifer Veenendall
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 4-8 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book discusses Izzy’s experience with autism. She often experiences sensory overload, and her behaviors are misunderstood by others.
  • TITLE: We’re Amazing 1,2,3! A Story About Friendship and Autism
    • AUTHOR: Leslie Kimmelman
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 3-7 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book is about Sesame Street’s new character, Julia, who has autism. The book explores Julia’s relationships with others. When Julia interacts with Elmo and Abby, Abby learns that there might be some things different about Julia but accepts it and in turn learns that they also have some things in common.
  • TITLE: I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism
    • AUTHOR: Pat Thomas
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 4-7 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book is written by a psychotherapist and counselor, who discusses the characteristics of autism in a way that young children can understand. The author explains how children with autism see and do things differently and include illustrations to capture the reader’s attention.

Books for Preteens (Tweens) with Autism

  • TITLE: Different Like Me
    • AUTHOR: Jennifer Elder
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 8-12 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book explores important people in history who were on the autism spectrum. Some people in the book include Albert Einstein, Dian Fossey, Wassily Kandinsky, Lewis Carroll, Benjamin Banneker, and Julia Bowman Robinson, among others.
  • TITLE: Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and Its Gifts
    • AUTHOR: Julia Cook
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 8-12 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book is about a boy with autism named Zack. The story is told from Zack’s point of view. This book can be helpful for those who have autism as well as those who don’t to help them better understand ASD.
  • TITLE: The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome
    • AUTHOR: Jennifer Cook O’Toole
    • DESCRIPTION: This book is relevant for preteens (tweens) and teens with autism. It is a book that helps older kids with autism better understand social norms and how to handle social situations in their daily life. The book has visuals that help provide entertainment as well as educational information for the reader.
  • TITLE: The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents)
    • AUTHOR: Elizabeth Verdick
    • AGE RECOMMENDATION: 8-13 years old
    • DESCRIPTION: This book is helpful for kids on the spectrum as well as their parents or other family members. The book helps the child, and their loved ones better understand autism and provides coping strategies for the child to help him or her handle stressful experiences.

Books for Pre-Teens, Teens, and Young Adults with Autism (Age 10 & Up)

The bottom line is, children are not created equal, and therefore, finding the most suitable books for each child is not one size fits all. The guide we have provided should be a good start to finding great book selections for your child to enjoy, learn from and develop the skills they need to thrive and live their best life.

Autism books for children on the spectrum. Autism Parenting Magazine. (2021, October 25). Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-books-for-children-on-spectrum/

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Browse Children's books: Autism Spectrum Disorder. American Psychological Association. Retrieved February 13, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/pubs/magination/browse?query=subject%3AAutism%2BSpectrum%2BDisorders