UPDATED APRIL 2021!
April is Autism Awareness Month! Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) include a wide range of conditions characterized by difficulties with social interactions, impaired verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviour.
These multicultural children’s books about autism highlight the challenges children and teenagers with autism face as well as their unique abilities and strengths. They also address the issues of friendship and bullying.
16 Multicultural Children’s Books about Autism
Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book
by Celeste Shally
Matt’s autism doesn’t stop him from having fun! When he struggles to navigate social situations, his friend is there to help him out. The two boys enjoy playing sports, watching movies, reading books, and talking about animals. With colourful illustrations and simple text, Since We’re Friends is a touching story of friendship and compassion. ~ Diverse – Preschool
Cameron Goes to School
by Sheletta Brundidge
Cameron will soon be starting kindergarten and her whole family is nervous. How will they manage without her when she goes off to school? Starring a young Black girl with autism, Cameron Goes To School is a sweet and funny story that will help all kids — and their families — face the great big wonderful change that is school. ~ African – Preschool
My Brother Charlie
by Holly Robinson Peete
“Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It’s harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe.” But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can’t do well, there are plenty of things he’s good at, such as knowing the names of all the American presidents, knowing stuff about airplanes, and playing the piano really well. With expressive illustrations, My Brother Charlie is a heartwarming book by bestselling author and actress Holly Robinson Peete – in collaboration with her daughter -, based on her own son, who has autism. ~ African – Preschool
Come Meet Drayden
by Dana Young-Askew
With colourful illustrations, Come Meet Drayden follows Drayden’s siblings as they share what a typical day with Drayden is like. Drayden has Autism and is completely awesome! Kids will love this book! ~ African – Preschool
Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears? Dealing with Sensory Overload
by Jennifer Veenendall
Not all children with autism suffer from sensory processing disorder, but many do. Meet Izzy, a feisty first grader, whose behaviour is often misunderstood as she tries to cope with sensory overload in her new surroundings. Brightly illustrated Why Does Izzy Cover Her Ears is a helpful and reassuring book for occupational therapists, teachers, and parents to share with children. Includes lists of related books and websites. ~ Diverse – Preschool, Elementary School
Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged
by Zetta Elliott
A little girl uses rhyming verse to describe the unique traits of her autistic friend. Benny likes trains and cupcakes without sprinkles, but he can also be fussy sometimes. The narrator doesn’t mind, however, because “true friends accept each other just the way they are.” Benny Doesn’t Like To Be Hugged is a gentle story that encourages children to appreciate and accept our differences. ~ African – Elementary School
Hi, my name is Austin and I have Autism
by Selina Jackson
8-year-old Austin looks at life through a different lens; he has Autism. In Hi, My Name Is Austin And I Have Autism he tells others about his diagnosis and how he lives with it on a daily basis. He accepts his differences and wants others to know that it is okay to do so as well. ~ African – Elementary School
The Bully Blockers: Standing Up for Classmates with Autism
by Celeste Shally
What would you do if you saw someone being bullied? Would you pretend it did not happen? Would you walk away and hope that someone else will take care of it? Would you care? Children with autism are likely to be bullied because they are socially awkward and often times unaware they are being bullied. The Bully Blockers tells the story of a boy who witnesses a classmate with autism being bullied and decides to stand up for him. ~ Diverse – Elementary School
Davis Speaks: A Brother with Autism
by Teisha N Glover & Nicholas Glover
Davis Speaks: A Brother with Autism is a true story about Nicholas and his little brother, Davis, who is different from other boys his age. Follow the siblings’ loving journey from meltdowns, to Autism diagnosis, to speech and occupational therapy, and finally to Nicholas’s appreciation of having a brother with special needs. By the end of this book, young readers will have a better understanding of Autism and the diagnosis process along with types of therapy and some characteristics of children on the Autism spectrum. ~ African – Elementary School
Mommy, What Is Autism?
by Dr. Nikko Da Paz & Olabisi Thompson
Papi and Meely are the best of brothers! They enjoy a lot of the same things but they are different, too. Meely notices that, sometimes, his big brother does things that he does not understand. Meely and Mommy have a heart-to-heart and she explains, “Your brother has Autism.” Mommy, What Is Autism offers a simple way to explain Autism to young children while also providing parents with behavior management tips and tools. ~ African – Elementary School
The Autism Acceptance Book: Being a Friend to Someone With Autism
by Ellen Sabin
The Autism Acceptance Book teaches children how to be a friend to someone with autism. It is an engaging and thoughtful activity book, conversation-starter, and educational tool that helps children aged 6 to 13 understand, accept and respect children with autism. Ideal for classrooms and other group settings. ~ Diverse – Elementary School, Middle School
Everybody Is Different: A Book for Young People Who Have Brothers or Sisters With Autism
by Fiona Bleach
This book answers the many questions siblings of children with autism might have, from explaining the characteristics of autism and the seemingly odd behaviours of children with autism, to addressing the feelings of the sibling and suggestions for making family life comfortable for everyone. With engaging illustrations, Everybody Is Different is an accessible and helpful book for brothers or sisters of children with autism. ~ Diverse – Elementary School, Middle School
The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders (And Their Parents)
by Elizabeth Verdick
The Survival Guide for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders is a positive and straightforward resource for kids with autism that helps them understand, accept and manage their condition. Meant to be read with a parent, the book addresses questions (“What’s an ASD?” “Why me?”) and provides strategies for communicating, making and keeping friends, succeeding in school, and symptom management. The book includes stories from real kids, fact boxes, helpful checklists, resources, a glossary, and a section for parents. ~ Diverse – Elementary School, Middle School
Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
12-year-old Willow Chance is obsessed with nature, diagnosing medical conditions, and counting by 7s. Struggling to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, she leads a quietly happy life, until both her parents die in an accident, leaving her alone in a confusing world. But Willow manages to push through her grief and find a substitute family. With a multicultural cast (Willow describes herself as a ‘person of colour”, her new family is of mixed Vietnamese, African American, and Mexican heritage), bestselling Counting by 7s is a moving middle grade novel about loss, resilience and the true meaning of family. ~ Diverse – Middle School
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
by Naoki Higashida
The Reason I Jump gives an intimate insight into the mind of a very smart, self-aware, and charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism. Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”). This vivid and eye-opening memoir demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds. ~ Asian – High School
Same But Different
by Holly Robinson Peete, RJ Peete & RE Peete
Being a teen with autism can get pretty hairy–especially when you’re up against dating, parties, sports, body changes, school, and other kids who just don’t ‘get’ you. Same But Different is a powerful book, in which Holly Robinson Peete and her twins teenagers Ryan Elizabeth Peete share their up-close-and-personal experiences on what it means to be a teen living with autism. The story explores the funny, painful, and unexpected aspects of teen autism, while daring to address issues nobody talks about. ~ African – High School
*You can buy any of the books on this site from Amazon US by clicking on the images or book titles*
I found this article very interesting, thanks for sharing
Could Lily’s Cat Mask be added to the list? Lily doesn’t talk throughout the book. (She does, however, meow.) While not marketed specifically as a book about autism, Lily might be familiar to parents with children on the autism spectrum, and those children might identify with her.
Colours of Us
Thanks for the suggestion! I will definitely check the book out.
This is a really important list. Thanks so much for sharing at the Multicultural Children’s Book Day linky.
Jane @ Raincity Librarian
This is such a great list. It can be so difficult to find books that are both multicultural and which touch on different abilities – finding a book about a non-white character with autism can seem almost impossible sometimes!
It’s great to see this collection of books – I must look out for Counting by 7s and The Reason I Jump… Thanks for sharing with #diversekidlit