Children with autism can benefit from books just like all kids can. Some kids with autism might love to read while others love having books read to them. Some kids might not initially show an interest in books, but you might still be able to introduce them to books in ways that can support their development and eventually you might see them find a connection with books after all.
November 7th through 13th is Children’s Book Week and we wanted to highlight some exceptional books that are recommended for children with autism at specific age groups including children from two to five years old, children from six to nine years old, and children from 10 to 14 years old. We will also give you some simple ideas for how you can celebrate book week with your child.
The books that you choose to offer to your child will depend on your child’s interests, strengths, and areas of need. If your child excels at reading, you can gently challenge them with higher-level reading material. However, if your child can’t read at this time, picture books or books with few words per page would be more appropriate.
Based on typical development for a child at a given age, we’ll offer some recommendations for books that are designed primarily for specific age groups. Understanding what books are recommended for children with autism at certain ages doesn’t mean that your child necessarily needs to be reading at that level, but it does give you a baseline as to what might be something to try or work toward with them.
Top Books for Kids with Autism (Ages 2-5)
There are many books available for young children with autism. Following are some recommendations of the top books for kids with autism between the ages of two and five years old.
- We’re Amazing 1,2,3! A Story About Friendship and Autism by Leslie Kimmelman
- This book is about the character on Sesame Street named Julia. Julia has autism. It explores the differences and similarities that people with autism have with others in a kind and relatable way for young children.
- I See Things Differently: A First Look at Autism by Pat Thomas
- This is a great book for young children. It includes illustrations and captures the young reader’s attention as it explores the unique characteristics of people with autism.
- Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? by Jennifer Veenendall
- This book explores how the main character can feel misunderstood by others and focuses on the sensory overload that often accompanies autism spectrum disorder.
Top Books for Kids with Autism (Ages 6-9)
School-age kids, especially lower elementary age children, are going through a lot of changes developmentally, socially, academically, and in many areas of development. When autism spectrum disorder is also a factor in their growth, they may have more challenges than other children do during these common changes in life.
Books are one tool that can be used to help young school-age kids with autism. Here are some book recommendations for kids with ASD between the ages of six and nine years old.
- All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph & Danielle Royer
- This is a moving story about feeling different when you have autism but also embracing who you are as well as those around you.
- Different Like Me by Jennifer Elder
- Depending on the age of your child as well as their ability or interest in historical figures and “famous” people, this book may be of interest to them. The author writes about important historical figures who were on the autism spectrum, such as Albert Einstein, Lewis Carroll, Julia Bowman Robinson, and many more.
- Uniquely Wired: A Story About Autism and Its Gifts by Julia Cook
- The author of this book focuses on the concept of having a special interest as a person with autism spectrum disorder. In the case of the main character, he has a special interest in watches.
Top Books for Kids with Autism (Ages 10-14)
- The Asperkid’s (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome by Jennifer Cook O’Toole
- Although the term “Asperger’s” is no longer used as a formal diagnosis and, instead, individuals who previously had a diagnosis of Asperger’s are likely to meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder, this book still has some extremely helpful information for preteens and teenagers with autism or autism-related symptoms. This is an engaging book about social norms and social skills that children with autism can benefit from reading.
- The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents) by Elizabeth Verdick
- The author understands how important it is to have supportive people in your life for someone with autism. This book helps young people with autism and their parents and caregivers better understand autism spectrum disorder.
- The Awesome Autistic Go-To Guide: A Practical Handbook for Autistic Teens and Tweens by Yenn Purkis
- All preteens and teens are going through developmental changes and learning about social skills and how to manage relationships, but adolescents with autism are likely to find this phase of life even more challenging. This book focuses on the strengths of having autism while also providing tips for managing stressful experiences in daily life.
Celebrating Children’s Book Week with Kids with Autism
To celebrate children’s book week with kids with autism, there are a few recommendations you might consider. Books can be such valuable tools for so many reasons. They help kids learn new things. They support kids with social and communication skills. They support the development of life skills. They offer kids the opportunity to explore topics of interest. There are so many benefits that books can provide for kids.
Here are some things you might try as you celebrate Children’s Book Week (or during any other week) with your child with autism spectrum disorder. You don’t have to fit ALL of these into the week; just pick a few that you think would work well with your child.
- Make reading time part of your child’s daily schedule
- Have your child choose a topic to learn about, find a few books about that subject, and read the books with your child throughout book week (and beyond if they are still interested)
- Allow your child time to read about their topics of interests
- Ask your child about the books they are reading (to promote comprehension skills)
- Take your child to the library
- Have a discussion with your child about what they might write about if they were an author
- Encourage your child to read about a topic they might not have thought much about or had much interest in (to expand upon interests)
- Have your child read (or read to them) a book about a nonfiction subject (such as a book about a specific life skill, about autism, etc.)
- Reward your child for reading (or having books read to them). For instance, they might earn something for every 15 minutes spent reading. Base the reward system on your child’s likelihood to read during the week.
Most of all – make book week fun! Help your child learn to love books. Enjoy the time with your child and strengthen your parent-child bond through books and reading together.