There is a huge amount of diversity within autism. No book will ever capture the entirety of the experience of being autistic, nor will every book about autism be relevant to every autistic child. In fact, the opposite is more likely to be true. Most books about autism won’t be relevant to any individual autistic child. I’ve included a variety of books in this section, which I hope represent some of the diversity of autism (e.g., some of the books feature kids who are non-speaking, while others feature kids who talk a lot!), and I hope that I have provided enough information to help you to choose a book that is relevant to your child’s needs. There are books about making friends, coping with and advocating for sensory sensitivity and sensory needs, and celebrating differences. There are also books in this section that are intended to be read with the siblings and/or peers of autistic children in order to validate challenges, encourage authentic inclusivity, and celebrate relationships.

A note about language: I have included under the “Representation” section of each book review, when applicable, whether and how the author identifies a character as autistic. Many people in the autism community prefer identity-first language (i.e., autistic person) rather than person-first language (i.e., person with autism). However, many other people prefer the opposite; it’s a very personal choice. In the past, person-first language has been the standard, and this is reflected in many books on autism, but this standard has shifted in the past couple of years as the culture has shifted toward celebrating disability as an identity.
Age range: 2nd grade through 6th grade.
Recommended for: This book is written by an autistic young adult and his father and describes the challenges of autism, as well as what they love about it. It is a good read for the allistic (i.e., non-autistic) siblings or friends of autistic children, as well as for autistic children who might relate to Justin (i.e., shared challenges, shared interests). It validates the challenges of autism but ultimately ends on a positive, inclusive note.
Age range: Kindergarten through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This rhyming biography about Dr. Temple Grandin, autistic scientist and public speaker, sends the message that “being different might just be what makes you so neat.” It’s an important message for any child to hear, but it’s particularly relevant to kids who are neurodiverse (e.g., ADHD, autism, learning disabilities). It’s best for children who will enjoy a relatively long book with a lot of words.

A Friend for Henry

Written by Jenn Bailey
Illustrated by Mika Song
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a really lovely read for children who are autistic and interested in making friends, as well as children who are not autistic but who struggle with inflexibility around rules (e.g., sharing) and literal interpretations (e.g., challenges with imaginary play). It aligns with a child who is feeling frustrated with the behavior of their peers who don’t always follow the rules or act logically, and it compassionately helps children to consider what they might look for in a friend, and how a bit of flexibility may help with this. This book could also be a good read for the peers of an autistic child who could use a reminder that their autistic classmate’s perspective is valid and that many friendships are forged on shared interests.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is great for the siblings of autistic girls, who are very underrepresented in children’s literature about autism. It validates the challenges of having an autistic sibling while highlighting love and connection between the siblings. It particularly supports conversations about what to do if a friend rejects an autistic sibling and presents a model of what inclusive play might look like. The book explicitly states that Leah is “autistic.”
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book positions the siblings of autistic children as experts in their siblings’ preferences and interests (as many siblings are), and it reminds the reader that their sibling’s happiness and well-being is more important than what other people might be thinking. It’s best for the siblings of non-speaking or minimally verbal autistic children.
Age range: 1st grade through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book is ideal to read with children who have autistic siblings and who can sit through a longer, wordier book. It celebrates positive aspects of the siblings’ relationship and builds empathy and understanding for a sibling’s experience while validating some of the very real challenges that can come with having an autistic brother or sister. For children who have ever asked, “What about me?” when their sibling goes to therapy and gets to play games, or when family decisions are made based on an autistic sibling’s needs, this book validates these experiences and provides some useful coping strategies.

My Brother Otto

Written by Meg Raby
Illustrated by Elisa Pallmer
Age range: Preschool through kindergarten.
Recommended for: This book is a cute, upbeat introduction to the idea that although children might be different in many ways, they all want “to play, learn, have friends, and be loved.” It’s ideal for young, non-autistic children with a non-speaking or minimally verbal autistic sibling. This book never explicitly labels Otto as autistic, so it’s a good fit for a family that has not yet talked with their children about diagnoses, or for a family with a child who has some autistic features but a different diagnosis.
Age range: Kindergarten through 4th grade.
Recommended for: This book is a very sweet, heart-warming read for a non-autistic child with an autistic sibling. The book validates the challenges of having an autistic (or otherwise neurodiverse, disabled, etc.) sibling while showing the depth and importance of the siblings’ love for one another. This book is probably best for children who are both able to recognize each other’s feelings to some extent and to engage in reciprocal affection and/or caretaking behaviors.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This book, written by an autistic author, is a celebration of parallel play and perspective taking, and it is excellent for the peers or siblings of autistic children who are minimally verbal and/or who prefer parallel play (i.e., playing side-by-side but independently) to cooperative play. This story models non-patronizing, inclusive play and encourages kids to learn to play in ways that are fun for everyone.

So Loud It Hurts!

Written and illustrated by Elaheh Bos
Age range: Any child who is able to express themselves verbally–perhaps preschool through 2nd or 3rd grade, but it could be appropriate for older children who are struggling to express themselves and their sensory needs.
Recommended for: This book encourages children to problem solve and self-advocate in order to reduce their exposure to sensations that are uncomfortable to them (in this case, loud noises at a birthday party). It’s a perfect fit for any child who has dreaded a birthday party due to a fear that popping balloons or a loud rendition of the Happy Birthday song will overwhelm them. It is not specific to autism-related sensory sensitivities but would be a good fit for an autistic child with sensitivity to sounds.

Sensory Seeking Sloth

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Jones
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a relatively fun way to introduce the idea of increasing a child’s sensory input throughout the day to meet their sensory needs. This can be a helpful intervention for some children with autism, ADHD, anxiety, and body-focused repetitive behaviors (e.g., skin-picking and hair-pulling). It introduces the concept of sensory seeking and provides many concrete examples a child can try out (e.g., jumping on a trampoline, eating something crunchy, playing with a fidget toy). School psychologists and counselors, as well as OTs, may particularly find this book useful when discussing interventions for kids to try out.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is a fun read for any kid who has ever been criticized for being unique or different. It celebrates differences and pokes fun at adults who want their children to be “typical.” The metaphor of the story could apply to many scenarios, but it could be a particularly good fit for kids who are neurodiverse (e..g., autism, ADHD) or LGBTQIA and need a light-hearted reminder that their differences are assets rather than flaws (who wouldn’t love to hang out with a dragon who breathes whipped cream rather than fire?!).

Not Quite Narwhal

Written and illustrated by Jessie Sima
Age range: Kindergarten through 4th grade (but many adults will love this book too).
Recommended for: This story celebrates finding a community of people a child relates to and can learn from (whether this be a community of kids and adults who are neurodiverse, gender diverse, or any other identity that might be different from most of their friends). At the same time, it models love and acceptance from one’s friends and family who do not share the same identity, and it concludes with the land narwhal (i.e., unicorn) protagonist of this story bringing his narwhal and unicorn communities together for a fun day of beach-sea volleyball.
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: This story is applicable to a child who gets anxious when they aren’t able to follow a routine, whether in the context of anxiety, OCD, autism, or anything else. It’s a really fun, adorable story with a lot of heart and a very sweet ending. The ultimate message is that although it can be scary to break out of a routine, sometimes doing things differently can present new possibilities (like discovering a new favorite food, fun experience, or good friend).