Best Books by Age for Kids with Autism or ASD | Pre-Schoolers to Young Adults
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
DESCRIPTION: This book is written with the high school student with Asperger’s in mind. This book explores tips that these students can use to improve their experience primarily in the school setting including tips on how to effectively interact with teachers, make friends and get along with others at school. It also addresses how the student can increase their level of independence in their daily functioning.
DESCRIPTION: This book explores social experiences and how to navigate them as a teen with autism. It also explores how to manage one’s emotions, particularly for teens living through adolescence with autism.
DESCRIPTION: This book explores the amazing things young people with autism can do. It focuses on the strengths of autism and teaches strategies for managing tricky situations, such as meltdowns or stress.
DESCRIPTION: This is a book that can help teens navigate life skills necessary for successful functioning during adolescence and adulthood. The book addresses social skills, friendship skills, self-advocacy, executive functioning skills, practical living skills, career path development, job skills, people skills, and much more.
DESCRIPTION: This is an easy read book for teens and young adults with autism. Some of the topics addressed in this book include dressing for different events, feeling anxious in social situations, public versus private behaviors, staying healthy, anxiety, depression, and feeling suicidal, social media issues, sexual harassment, finding and keeping friends (including a boyfriend or girlfriend), safe and responsible sex, and deciding to have sex with a partner, and more.
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.