April is Autism Awareness Month. Here are some books to start discussions or help autistic children feel seen.
Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It)
By Carrie Finison
Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984813022 | Putnam BFYR
Doug doesn’t like hugs. He thinks hugs are too squeezy, too squashy, too squooshy, too smooshy. He doesn’t like hello hugs or goodbye hugs, game-winning home run hugs or dropped ice cream cone hugs, and he definitely doesn’t like birthday hugs. He’d much rather give a high five – or a low five, a side five, a double five, or a spinny five. Yup, some people love hugs; other people don’t. So how can you tell if someone likes hugs or not? There’s only one way to find out: Ask! Because everybody gets to decide for themselves whether they want a hug or not.
It Was Supposed to be Sunny
By Samantha Cotterill
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780525553472 | Dial Books
Laila feels like her sparkly sunshine birthday celebration is on the brink of ruin when it starts to storm. Then, just as she starts feeling okay with moving her party indoors, an accident with her cake makes her want to call the whole thing off. But with the help of her mom and a little alone time with her service dog, she knows she can handle this. Changes in routine can be hard for any kid, but especially for kids on the autism spectrum. Samantha Cotterill’s fourth book in the Little Senses series provides gentle guidance along with adorable illustrations to help every kid navigate schedule changes and overwhelming social situations.
She Persisted: Temple Grandin
By Lyn Miller-Lachmann and Chelsea Clinton
Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint
80 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593353554 | Philomel Books
In this chapter book biography by beloved author Lyn Miller-Lachmann, STEMinist readers learn about the amazing life of Temple Grandin – and how she persisted. Temple Grandin is a world-renowned scientist, animal-behavior expert, and autism spokesperson who was able to use her way of thinking and looking at the world to invent and achieve great things! Complete with an introduction from Chelsea Clinton, black-and-white illustrations throughout, and a list of ways that readers can follow in Temple Grandin’s footsteps and make a difference!
For older readers:
A Bird Will Soar
By Alison Green Myers
400 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593325674 | Dutton BFYR
Axel loves everything about birds, especially eagles. No one worries that an eagle will fly too far and not come home – a fact Axel wishes his mother understood. Deep down, Axel knows that his mother is like an osprey – the best of all bird mothers – but it’s hard to remember that when she worries and keeps secrets about important things. His dad is more like a wild turkey, coming and going as he pleases. His dad’s latest disappearance is the biggest mystery of all. Despite all this, Axel loves his life – especially the time he spends with his friends observing the eagles’ nest in the woods near his home. But when a tornado damages not only Axel’s home but the eagles’ nest, Axel’s life is thrown into chaos. Suddenly his dad is back to help repair the damage, and Axel has to manage his dad’s presence and his beloved birds’ absence. Plus, his mom seems to be keeping even more secrets. But Axel knows another important fact: an eagle’s instincts let it soar. Axel must trust his own instincts to help heal his family and the nest he loves.
A Kind of Spark
By Ellie McNicoll
192 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593374252 | Crown BFYR
Ever since Ms. Murphy told us about the witch trials that happened centuries ago right here in Juniper, I can’t stop thinking about them. Those people weren’t magic. They were like me. Different like me. I’m autistic. I see things that others do not. I hear sounds that they can ignore. And sometimes I feel things all at once. I think about the witches, with no one to speak for them. Not everyone in our small town understands. But if I keep trying, maybe someone will. I won’t let the witches be forgotten. Because there is more to their story. Just like there is more to mine. Award-winning and neurodivergent author Elle McNicoll delivers an insightful and stirring debut about the European witch trials and a girl who refuses to relent in the fight for what she knows is right.
By Cat Patrick
304 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984815347 | Putnam BFYR
Tess has always understood her role in her family. She is supposed to be the “okay” one. The one no one has to worry about. But all Tess does is worry, constantly picking at her fingers every time a new worry arises. Still grieving her best friend’s death, she is consumed by the fear that everything was her fault and her sadness that Colette is never coming back. Worse still, it seems like everyone else has found a way to move on, even her twin sister Frankie. When her mom decides a change of location might do her good, Tess finds herself on an airplane bound for her aunt’s house in small town Wyoming and a summer vacation attending art camp. Tess thinks she might never be able to move on from losing Colette but her quirky but determined cousin Kennedy and new friend Izzy are determined to help. When Tess becomes convinced that Colette’s ghost might be haunting her, Kennedy and Izzy find new ways for Tess to make peace with the past and finally let go of the grief that has been haunting her heart.
The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester
By Maya MacGregor
360 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9781635923599 | Astra Young Readers
Sam Sylvester has long collected stories of half-lived lives – of kids who died before they turned nineteen. Sam was almost one of those kids. Now, as Sam’s own nineteenth birthday approaches, their recent near-death experience haunts them. They’re certain they don’t have much time left . . . . But Sam’s life seems to be on the upswing after meeting several new friends and a potential love interest in Shep, their next-door neighbor. Yet the past keeps roaring back – in Sam’s memories and in the form of a thirty-year-old suspicious death that took place in Sam’s new home. Sam can’t resist trying to find out more about the kid who died and who now seems to guide their investigation. When Sam starts receiving threatening notes, they know they’re on the path to uncovering a murderer. But are they digging through the past or digging their own future grave? The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester explores healing in the aftermath of trauma and the fullness of queer joy.
The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family
By Sarah Kapit
288 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593112298 | Dial Books
When twelve-year-old Lara Finkel starts her very own detective agency, FIASCCO (Finkel Investigation Agency Solving Consequential Crimes Only), she does not want her sister, Caroline, involved. She and Caroline don’t have to do everything together. But Caroline won’t give up, and when she brings Lara the firm’s first mystery, Lara relents, and the questions start piling up. But Lara and Caroline’s truce doesn’t last for long. Caroline normally uses her tablet to talk, but now she’s busily texting a new friend. Lara can’t figure out what the two of them are up to, but it can’t be good. And Caroline doesn’t like Lara’s snooping – she’s supposed to be solving other people’s crimes, not spying on Caroline! As FIASCCO and the Finkel family mysteries spin out of control, can Caroline and Lara find a way to be friends again?