Autism Books For Kids

While some children with autism struggle with reading, others become voracious readers.

Regardless of a child’s literacy skills, focusing on a reading program as early as possible will support optimal development.


The Challenges (and Benefits) of Reading Among Children with Autism

Learning to read, especially for understanding, can be a challenge even for typically developing children. This requires phonemic awareness, something which children with autism struggle with.

Children with autism exhibit a range of strengths and weaknesses, with intellectual abilities falling both above and below average. However, regardless of where a child is on the spectrum, children with autism generally showcase strong word recognition skills. It is their reading comprehension that can be challenging.

Challenges with reading among children with autism may also be attributed to areas such as executive functioning or theory of mind.

Although these barriers exist and vary from one child with autism to the next, that does not mean that reading should not be a part of their everyday life. It is never too early to think about your child’s literacy skills.

A reading program that is implemented early in a child’s life can help improve reading comprehension by establishing new connections between areas of the brain that involve language.

Since children with autism have so many strengths, it’s important to focus on a strength-based model of intervention. This will support their individual growth and development while helping them build self-confidence.


Targeting Common Misconceptions About Autism and Early Literacy

Like so many aspects of autism, education is imperative. The more you know, the more you can help your child develop into the best version of themselves. Learning about the following misconceptions is the first step in doing so.

Misconception #1 – Don’t bother with literacy skills until your child can talk

Whether a child is on the spectrum or not, it’s never too early to read to them. Whether your goal is to promote language or social skills, introduce your child to books as soon as possible. Research shows that promoting these skills early on can improve verbal abilities among children with autism.

Misconception #2 – Learning alphabet letters is the most important literacy skill you can teach a young child with autism

Yes, learning the alphabet is an important literacy skill, but it is not the only skill to focus on. For children with autism, learning letter names may come easily, which is why you should focus on other skills. There are many early literacy skills needed to develop reading and writing skills, including understanding stories, sound awareness, and vocabulary.

Misconception #3: The best way to teach your child to read is to sit at a table with workbooks or flashcards

Children develop skills in natural, everyday environments. For example, you could discuss what is on a menu, sign, or label while completing daily routines. It can also be helpful to label commonly used items, such as “toothbrush” or “coat.” Other ideas include having paper and crayons available to write and doing projects together, such as making placemats with your names on them or writing cards for special occasions.

Recommended reading: Art Therapy Activities for Autism


Autism Books for Kids

The “best” books for your child will depend on their unique skills and interests. The concept of adapted books has been shown to increase engagement rates among children with autism, promoting different learning styles. Adapted books are modified to meet a child’s specific needs. For some children, larger text may be beneficial, whereas others will benefit from pictures being matched to words.

A UCLA study found that minimally verbal children with autism increased engagement and story comprehension during the shared reading of adapted books.

The American Psychological Association (APA) made a list of books that would appeal specifically to children with autism. These include:

Other books include:


Books with Characters That Have Autism

In recent years, there have been more books released that feature children and adults with autism. However, books featuring characters with autism are still fairly few and far between.

Some authors, such as Michael Morpurgo, have written novels inspired by their loved ones. This helps bring light to the autism community, showing how these characters can see the world differently.

A unique idea that has surfaced in recent years is the concept of co-production. This is where books are written in collaboration with individuals with autism — much like the M in the Middle series, written by Vicky Martin.

The thing is, autism is so extremely diverse that the only way to have an accurate representation within fiction books is to have a lot of distinct characters with autism. This will allow those with autism to find a book where they connect with the character, which can be less isolating.

Books that currently feature characters with autism include:


Pingree Center Is Here to Help

Carmen B. Pingree Autism Center of Learning offers comprehensive treatment, education, and related services for children with autism and their families.

Read more about our history and please contact us with questions you have. Let’s take the next step together!