17 Children's Books That Promote Understanding Of Autism

These books foster awareness and empathy for kids on the spectrum.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1 in 59 children in the U.S. has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Yet despite improvements, people with autism are still relatively underrepresented in the realm of film, TV and literature.

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we compiled a list of children’s books that feature characters on the spectrum and tackle issues related to autism.

While some speak from the perspective of a child with autism, others show the perspective of a neurotypical sibling or friend. All promote understanding and acceptance for kids on the spectrum.

1
We’re Amazing, 1, 2, 3!
This Sesame Street storybook focuses on a recent character addition -- Elmo's friend Julia, who has autism.
(Written by Leslie Kimmelman. Illustrated by Marybeth Nelson.)
2
My Brother Charlie
Actress and advocate Holly Robinson Peete collaborated with her daughter Ryan to write My Brother Charlie, which is based on Ryan's experience having a twin brother with autism.
(Written by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans.)
3
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
The Girl Who Thought In Pictures tells the inspiring story of world-renowned scientist Dr. Temple Grandin, who grew up at a time when society doubted people like her would accomplish anything.
(Written by Julia Finley Mosca. Illustrated by Daniel Rieley.)
4
Ethan's Story: My Life With Autism
Eight-year-old Ethan Rice shared his story with others to raise awareness and show what autism means to him.
(Written by Ethan Rice. Illustrated by Crystal Smalls Ord.)
5
Different Like Me: My Book Of Autism Heroes
This book highlights famous people who didn't quite fit into society from the perspective of a young boy on the spectrum.
(Written by Jennifer Elder. Illustrated by Marc Thomas and Jennifer Elder.)
6
Autism Is...?
In this book, a grandmother explains to her grandson, who is on the spectrum, what autism is.
(Written by Ymkje Wideman-van der Laan. Illustrated by Rob Feldman.)
7
All My Stripes: A Story for Children With Autism
All My Stripes tells the story of a zebra named Zane who has autism and worries about not fitting in.
(Written by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer. Illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin.)
8
Tacos Anyone?
This bilingual book follows the story of Michael, a 4-year-old with autism, and his older brother, Thomas, who must learn to understand his atypical behavior.
(Written by Marvie Ellis. Illustrated by Jenny Loehr.)
9
My Friend With Autism
This book grew out of Beverly Bishop's desire to educate her son’s classmates about autism by promoting a sense of tolerance and understanding.
(Written by Beverly Bishop. Illustrated by Craig Bishop.)
10
Cooper and the Big Apple
Featuring illustrations by her daughter who is on the autism spectrum, Camille Cohn's book tells the story of a cat with autism who reluctantly travels to New York City with his best friend.
(Written by Camille Cohn. Illustrated by Riley Cohn.)
11
Hello, My Name Is Max and I Have Autism: An Insight Into the Autistic Mind
Max Miller, a 12-year-old boy on the spectrum, shares about what life is like with autism through his words and drawings.
(Written and illustrated by Max Miller.)
12
Slug Days
Slug Days follows a girl on the spectrum named Lauren and provides insight into the way she sees the world.
(Written by Sara Leach. Illustrated by Rebecca Bender.)
13
A Friend Like Simon
This book details the friendship between a child with autism and his neurotypical classmate.
(Written by Kate Gaynor. Illustrated by Caitriona Sweeney.)
14
Uniquely Wired
Young readers can gain understanding and empathy from this book about Zak, a boy with autism who shares his interests, quirks and point of view.
(Written by Julia Cook. Illustrated by Anita DuFalla.)
15
Leah's Voice
Leah's Voice tells the story of two sisters, one of whom has autism.
(Written by Lori Demonia. Illustrated by Monique Turchan.)
16
I Love Being My Own Autistic Self!
Landon Bryce draws on his experience having autism and introduces a group of characters to explore.
(Written by Landon Bryce.)
17
Noah Chases the Wind
Noah Chases the Wind celebrates the curious nature of a little boy named Noah, who has autism and sees the world a little differently.
(Written by Michelle Worthington. Illustrated by Joseph Cowman.)

This story has been updated to include the CDC’s new statistics about the prevalence of autism.