If you want to learn about autism, you need to read books about autistic kids. People on the autism spectrum might communicate, act, and learn in ways that aren’t the same as those of other people. Their specific behaviors can be different, and they can be different in form. This list of books for kids with autism is broken up into different groups. There are a lot of books for and about autistic kids that talk about how to have healthy relationships and how to enjoy them. This isn’t all. There are also books about autism, and many of them explain why kids on the spectrum act in certain ways. Finally, there are sensory books for autistic kids, which are filled with interesting visual and tactile sensory experiences as they tell you about animals, sounds, emotions, and anything else you can think of, as well. Use #OwnVoices if the book is written by an autistic person.
We also have a list of 50+ books about neurodiversity and a list of picture books for kids under 10. This list doesn’t have as many authors and illustrators of color as we’d like. We do our best to promote diversity in books and publishing. But, as we can see from newer books like Benny Doesn’t like to be hugged and My Rainbow, there are likely to be more books about autistic kids that are more diverse.
Reading Books for Autistic Children
Benji, the Bad Day and Me by Sally J. Pla and Ken Min
There are two brothers: Benji has autism, and Sammy is a normal person who doesn’t have it. This is making Sammy have a bad day even worse. He feels that Benji is getting more attention than he is, which makes him cry and feel bad about himself. It’s only when Benji sees his brother crying that he comes over and comforts him in a very sweet way. Pla wrote this story based on her own two sons. It’s a gentle reminder that everyone expresses their feelings in different ways, and that sometimes, even if we don’t understand someone else’s way, we still need to be patient and understanding.
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
Award-winning book tells the story of Chibi, a child who is shy and doesn’t get along with his friends. While autism isn’t talked about, kids on the spectrum will still be able to relate to a lot of the things in this book. Chibi spends his time having fun with things that interest him. While the other kids make fun of him at first, he keeps going to school. Finally, a new teacher named Mr. Isobe comes to teach at the school. Mr. Isobe right away likes Chibi’s skills, talents, and personality. It’s a story about learning not to judge people because they are different.
Ty the Dinosaur and the Substitute Teacher by Marcus Tallbergs, Jill C. Faulkner, and Klaudia Drabikowska (#OwnVoices)
Ty the T-Rex has a bad day at school when his usual teacher isn’t there and the substitute can’t keep the class from getting crazy. They have trouble adapting to changes in their routine, and Ty is no different. The principal takes Ty to his office after he fights with a classmate. He learns a good trick from the principal there. An interview with the co-author on The Mighty says that she was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome when she was a child. She says that the story is about how she was misunderstood by adults as violent, angry, and bad-behaved when she was younger.
My Rainbow by Trinity and DeShanna Neal with Art Twink (#OwnVoices)
As an autistic transgender person, Trinity needs long hair to be taken seriously by other people. One day, she tells her mom that she needs long hair to be taken seriously by other people. The problem is that she doesn’t like having her hair touch her neck. Finally, her mother makes her a wig with multi-colored curls in shades of teal, pink, and purple. When DeShanna and Trinity write, they’re a mother and daughter writing team. This is a great book about being black, having a family, and having love in your life.
Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged by Zetta Elliott and Purple Wong
This is told from the point of view of Benny’s neurotypical best friend, and it talks about how to love your friends for who they are. For autistic people who read the message, it will be a great example for their friends.
Why Johnny Doesn’t Flap: NT is Okay! By Clay Morton, Gail Morton, and Alex Merry
It’s Johnny’s friend who is autistic, and the narrator is Johnny’s friend. The narrator compares their actions from his point of view in a sarcastic, surprising way. In spite of how it is written, this text is more of an informational one. Clay and Gail Morton, the book’s authors, are parents of a child who is autistic, and they also study neurodiversity in the classroom.
A Friend for Henry by Jen Bailey and Mika Song
It’s hard for Henry to understand the other kids at school because he doesn’t speak the same language. He’s very picky, and that makes him very angry when he’s in class. A quiet girl who likes to be alone is named Katie, and they get along well. This makes him feel good. It was based on Bailey’s son, who was autistic and had trouble making friends at school.
Me and My Sister by Rose Robbins
Playing with his autistic sister is one of the things the narrator and his sister enjoy the most. He also knows that their relationship can be very complicated and ever-changing. It has a very important message about love and support that is very easy for young people to understand. Roberts wrote this story about her brother, who has autism. She based it on her relationship with him.
Just Right for You: A Story about Autism by Melanie Heyworth and CeART (I am Cadence) (#OwnVoices)
This bright board book is a good way for kids to learn about the autism spectrum in a positive way. The author and illustrator are both autistic, so their take on the subject is real.
Easy Chapter Books About Autistic Children For Ages 6-9
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold and Charles Santoso
This is the first in a series of books about a boy called Bat. It’s hard for him to get his mom, a veterinarian, to keep the tiny, pink-nosed baby skunk she brings home. Bat is very excited to take care of the cute little animal and is even willing to break with his usual strict rules. Bat is a cute character that kids on the spectrum will be able to connect with. He is also very friendly.
Super Lexi by Emma Lesko and Adam Winsor
Lexi is a child who likes to play and be different. She knows what she doesn’t like. Among other things, she doesn’t like having songs stuck in her head, and she hates being watched by other people, too. The book is very good at giving the reader a sense of Lexi’s thoughts and reasoning. When Lexi has a solo in the Parent’s Day show, she is afraid and needs to figure out how to hide on stage.
Books About Autism
My Life with Autism by Mari Schuh and Isabel Muñoz
The book is written from the point of view of Zen, and it explains autism very clearly. It also gives definitions and ideas for how others can show respect to people on the autism spectrum. The art is bright and appealing, making the book both beautiful and fun to read.
Your Interests, My Interests: A Visual Guide to Playing and Hanging Out for Children on the Autism Spectrum by Joel Shaul
This is a visually appealing guide for kids on the autistic spectrum who want to learn how to play with other kids. It includes strategies and ideas for how to play with other kids. When kids and their parents read the book, they’ll see more pictures than text. It also has activities, games, and learning sheets with concrete ideas for kids and adults to talk about together.
Nathan’s Autism Spectrum Superpowers by Lori Leigh Yarborough and Natalie Merheb
Based on Yarborough’s son, this taught me a lot about why some people on the spectrum do certain things. For example, some autistic kids can easily remember facts, but they may not be able to remember faces because there is so much information to process when they look at someone’s face. Helpful tips for friends are also in the boxes. They encourage neurotypical kids to adapt to the needs of their neurodivergent peers, so they can be friends.
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin, by Julia Finley Mosca and Daniel Rieley (the author interviewed Dr. Temple Grandin to write this book, so sort of #OwnVoices)
Grandin’s story is a good choice if you want to empower and inspire kids on the autism spectrum. It’s told in rhyming verses that are very cute. Grandin didn’t talk until she was 3 years old, and her parents didn’t think she would ever be able to (she eventually did). During her senior year of high school, she came up with a machine that used boards to give people a hug. Now, she is an advocate for autism and a well-known and important figure in the field of modern animal science.
Sensory Books for Children with Autism
Wiggles, Stomps, and Squeezes Calm My Jitters Down by Lindsey Rowe Parker and Rebecca Burgess
People who read this book can learn more about how some autistic kids process their sensory input in unique ways. It’s told from the point of view of a boy on the spectrum and his mom, and it does a great job of capturing jittery feelings through font formatting and other visual clues.
The Beach is Loud by Samantha Cotterill (#OwnVoices)
When a little boy and his dad go to the beach, he has a hard time because the beach is so noisy. We get a better sense for what the boy is hearing and feeling because of how words are formatted and different fonts are used.
Touch and Feel Jungle Animals by Maria Mazas and Camille Roy
It’s not about autism at all, but it’s an example of a book that might be good for someone who has a lot of sensory needs. This is from a series of touch-and-feel books, but this one also has some facts in it. Autistic kids will enjoy the fun, detailed information and the different textures that go with the images. However, even though it’s called a “board book,” which are usually for babies, the animal information here is for people who love animals.