Kids need to see themselves. What I mean by that is, our kids need to see others like them–in books, movies, television. I found that it is not so easy to find fiction book characters with autism or other disabilities. The key word there being ‘fiction.’
Lately my younger son is really getting into reading, which is fun. He’s becoming much more choosy about the content he is reading. I thought I would take a look around for some books that would help him, or inspire him, or subtly teach him how to live with a brother with autism or disabilities.
But here you go, if you are looking for some books to add to your collection, check these out. I found books even for little ones up to teens. You’ll have to click around and see if the material is developmentally appropriate for your child. I listed them alphabetically. You can even use the book characters in social stories about making friends.
10 fiction book characters with autism or disabilities
Amelia Bedelia books: I like Amelia Bedelia books for a lot of reasons. First, they have Easy Readers or beginner level books, all the way up to chapter books. She appeals to both boys and girls, and her quirk is that she takes things very literally. Her stories could be very good conversation starters about literal language.
Eleanor & Park: This is probably more for teens as it is a love story. What makes it appropriate on this list is that the two kids who fall in love are “misfits.” I like the story line that misfits can find someone, especially for a child who often feels alone or different.
El Deafo: Yes, this is a story with a hearing aid! Crazy name, but so few story lines involve hearing aids, I thought this should be on the list. Plus it is a Newberry winner, so worth checking out.
Fish in a Tree: The main character Ally, has dyslexia. She tries to hide it and in the end comes to accept it. That’s a very abbreviated version, but looks like a good story.
I am Albert Einstein: This one isn’t really fiction. But, I felt it should be on the list because in several different parts it talks about Albert being different, being called names and so on. The “I am” series was introduced to us by the National Archives on a trip there, and I love it. They highlight many famous people who started out ordinary and overcame challenges. So, no, not fiction, but still fun stories to read and Brian asks for this one quite often.
Janine: Janine is initially ostracized due to her disabilities. But the group comes to like her and accept her, and in my opinion, not in that syrupy patronizing way.
Looking After Louis: I chose this one because it also brings a bit of soccer into the story, so I felt it that kids may relate to it better.
Mockingbird: This one is for teens or older. It seems a bit dark, but it deals with both Aspergers and school shootings, so I thought it was worth checking out.
Rain Reign: “Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.” Sounds good, no? Oh, and she also perseverates on things!
Lemonade War Series: Recommended by a blog reader. The main girl is quirky and has trouble understanding social cues. Then in the 2nd or 3rd book there is definitely a boy who is on the spectrum though the word is never used.
More to check out: