Increase your child's empathy and understanding of autism with these brilliant books featuring autistic characters
Bishop's Stortford College Prep School librarian Lizzie Hall writes about the magic of storytelling...
Dear Reader. This week is Autism Awareness Week (March 29-April 4). Introducing children to books with characters who are on the autistic spectrum can shape the way they respond to and understand autism.
Here are some awesome books with autistic characters...
Perfectly Norman by Tom Percival
Norman had always been perfectly normal - until the day he grew a pair of wings!
Norman loves his new wings and has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky.
But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat.
But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?
This poignant and uplifting story about individuality is filled with stunning artwork in a striking minimal palette.
A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey and Mika Song
In Classroom Six, second left down the hall, Henry has been on the lookout for a friend. A friend who shares. A friend who listens. Maybe even a friend who likes things to stay the same and all in order, as Henry does.
But on a day full of too close and too loud, when nothing seems to go right, will Henry ever find a friend - or will a friend find him?
With insight and warmth, this heartfelt story from the perspective of a boy on the autism spectrum celebrates the everyday magic of friendship.
Pablo and the Noisy Party by Andrew Brenner and Sumita Majumdar
Pablo's mum takes him to his cousin Lorna's birthday party, but Pablo gets scared of the noisy party.
Pablo hides in the car and soon his friends come to join him. Pablo's friends help him realise that it's okay if he doesn't want to go to the party.
This lovely and heartwarming story will help readers understand that not everybody thinks the same way, and that some people feel differently about parties.
All Pablo books are written by writers on the autistic spectrum and are grounded in the real-life experiences of autistic children.
How to Look for a Lost Dog by A M Martin
Eleven-year-old Rose is autistic and struggles to understand her classmates.
But when her father gives her a stray dog, which she names Rain, the dog becomes her best friend, her anchor in a confusing world.
So when Rain goes missing during a storm, Rose refuses to stop looking for her in this touching story from the beloved author of The Baby-Sitters Club.
Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca Westcott
Tally is 11 years old and she's just like her friends. Well, sometimes she is. If she tries really hard to be.
Because there's something that makes Tally not the same as her friends. Something she can't cover up, no matter how hard she tries: Tally is autistic.
Tally's autism means there are things that bother her even though she wishes they didn't. It means that some people misunderstand her and feel frustrated by her.
People think that because Tally's autistic she doesn't realise what they're thinking, but Tally sees and hears - and notices - all of it.
And, honestly, that's not the easiest thing to live with.
The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd
11.32am. Ted and his sister Kat watch their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye. The pod rises from the ground, high above the city.
12.02pm. The pod lands and the doors open. Everyone exits - everyone but Salim.
Has he spontaneously combusted? (Ted's theory); has he been kidnapped? (Aunt Gloria's theory); is he even still alive? (The family's unspoken fear).
Even the police are baffled so it's up to Ted, whose brain runs on its own unique operating system, to solve this mystery and find Salim.
Teaming up with Kat, Ted follows a trail of clues across London while time ticks dangerously by.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a murder mystery novel like no other.
The detective, and narrator, is Christopher Boone. Christopher is 15 and has Asperger syndrome. He knows a very great deal about maths and very little about human beings.
He loves lists, patterns and the truth. He hates the colours yellow and brown and being touched.
He has never gone further than the end of the road on his own, but when he finds a neighbour's dog murdered he sets out on a terrifying journey which will turn his whole world upside down.
Mockingbird by Kathryn Erksine
Caitlin misses her brother every day. Since his death in a school shooting, she has no one to explain the world to her.
And for Caitlin, the world is a confusing place. She hates it when colours get mixed up, prefers everything to be black and white and needs to check her facial expressions chart to understand emotions.
So when Caitlin reads the definition of "closure", she decides that's what she needs. And as she struggles to find it, a world of colour begins to enter her black-and-white life.
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Hagashida
What is it like to have autism? How can we know what a person - especially a child - with autism is thinking and feeling?
This groundbreaking book, written by Naoki Higashida when he was only 13, provides some answers.
Severely autistic and non-verbal, Naoki learnt to communicate by using a cardboard keyboard and what he has to say gives a rare insight into an autistically-wired mind.
He explains behaviour he's aware can be baffling, such as why he likes to jump and why some people with autism dislike being touched.
He describes how he perceives and navigates the world, sharing his thoughts and feelings about time, life, beauty and nature.
And he offers an unforgettable short story.