Autism Awareness Month 2022

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.

Paper Heart
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?

Family Day 2022

This year, Family Day is celebrated across many provinces in Canada on Monday, February 21, 2022. Here are some of our favourite books about families including new babies, siblings, and other relatives.

B is for Baby
By Atinuke
Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
28 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Board
ISBN 9781536217940 | Candlewick
One morning after breakfast, Baby’s big brother is getting ready to take the basket of bananas all the way to Baba’s bungalow in the next village. He’ll have to go along the bumpy road, past the baobab trees, birds, and butterflies, and all the way over the bridge. But what he doesn’t realize is that his very cute, very curious baby sibling has stowed away on his bicycle! Little ones learning about language will love sounding out the words in this playful, vibrantly illustrated story set in West Africa.

How to Welcome a New Baby
By Jean Reagan
Illustrated by Lee Wildish
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593430613 | Knopf BFYR
A new baby is coming! Do you know what to do? This heartwarming new addition to the bestselling How to . . . series is all about welcoming a new sibling into your family. Learn how to get ready for the baby, how to make the baby laugh, and how to help Mom and Dad when things get a little topsy-turvy. Follow along through the first year of baby’s life, and learn How To . . . from the experts – kids! Filled with charming role-reversal humor, creative ideas, and sweet moments, How To Welcome a New Baby is sure to delight new siblings and growing families everywhere!

Marley and the Family Band
By Cedella Marley and Tracey Baptiste
Illustrated by Tiffany Rose
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593301111 | Random House BFYR
When Marley and her family move from Jamaica to Delaware, she knows life is about to change in big ways. And she’s got the perfect plan to help her and her siblings make friends: an outdoor concert for the whole neighborhood! But when weather ruins their plans, she discovers help in the most unlikely places as her new neighbors quickly become the kindest of friends. In this joyful, vibrant picture book inspired by her childhood and iconic father, Cedella Marley assures children that nothing can stop the music as long as they have community.

On the Trapline
By David A. Robertson
Illustrated by Julie Flett
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266681 | Tundra Books
A boy and Moshom, his grandpa, take a trip together to visit a place of great meaning to Moshom. A trapline is where people hunt and live off the land, and it was where Moshom grew up. As they embark on their northern journey, the child repeatedly asks his grandfather, “Is this your trapline?” Along the way, the boy finds himself imagining what life was like two generations ago – a life that appears to be both different from and similar to his life now. This is a heartfelt story about memory, imagination, and intergenerational connection that perfectly captures the experience of a young child’s wonder as he is introduced to places and stories that hold meaning for his family. On the Trapline won the Governor General’s Literary Award in English for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books in 2021.

Out into the Big Wide Lake
By Paul Harbridge
Illustrated by Josée Bisaillon
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265592 | Tundra Books
It’s Kate’s first time visiting her grandparents on her own at their lakeside home. She’s nervous but excited at the adventure ahead. She helps her grandfather with his grocery deliveries by boat, where she meets all the neighbors, including a very grumpy old man named Walter. And she makes best friends with her grandparents’ dog, Parbuckle. Her grandmother even teaches her to pilot the boat all by herself! When her grandfather takes ill suddenly, it’s up to Kate – but can she really make all those deliveries, even to grumpy old Walter? She has to try! Based on the author’s sister, Kate is a lovable, brave, smart and feisty character who will capture your heart in this gorgeous and moving story about facing fears and gaining independence. Out into the Big Wide Lake was a Governor General’s Literary Award in English for Young People’s Literature – Illustrated Books finalist in 2021.

Over the Shop
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536201475 | Candlewick
A lonely little girl and her grandparent need to fill the run-down apartment in their building. But taking over the quarters above their store will mean major renovations for the new occupants, and none of the potential renters can envision the possibilities of the space – until one special couple shows up. With their ingenuity, the little girl’s big heart, and heaps of hard work, the desperate fixer-upper begins to change in lovely and surprising ways. In this bustling wordless picture book, JonArno Lawson’s touching story and Qin Leng’s gentle illustrations capture all angles of the building’s transformation, as well as the evolving perspectives of the girl and her grandparent. A warm and subtly nuanced tale, Over the Shop throws open the doors to what it means to accept people for who they are and to fill your home with love and joy.

Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music
By Willie Nelson, Bobbie Nelson, and Chris Barton
Illustrated by Kyung Eun Han
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781984851833 | Doubleday BFYR
He was a boy with a guitar. She was a girl with a piano. Raised by loving grandparents in Depression-era rural Texas, their humble beginnings playing local shows to put food on the table started Willie and Bobbie Nelson on a remarkable path to global stardom. In a story filled with details of a childhood in rural Texas – with church socials, general stores, and town dances – Willie and Bobbie weave together an inspiring story of a long-ago time. With triumphs and tragedies, hard work and determination, here is a deeply personal, gorgeously-written, and profoundly moving tale of hope.

The Bench
By Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex
Illustrated by Christian Robinson
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735272163 | Tundra Books
In The Bench, Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, touchingly captures the evolving and expanding relationship between father and son and reminds us of the many ways that love can take shape and be expressed in a modern family. Evoking a deep sense of warmth, connection, and compassion, The Duchess’s debut children’s book gives us a window into shared and enduring moments between a diverse group of fathers and sons—moments of peace and reflection, trust and belief, discovery and learning, and comfort and nurture. Working in watercolor for the first time, Caldecott-winning, bestselling illustrator Christian Robinson expands on his signature style to bring joy and softness to the pages, reflecting the beauty of a father’s love through a mother’s eyes. With a universal message, this thoughtful and heartwarming read-aloud is destined to be treasured by families for generations to come.

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?

Tia Fortuna’s New Home: A Jewish Cuban Journey
By Ruth Behar
Illustrated by Devon Holzwarth
32 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593172414 | Knopf BFYR
When Estrella’s Tía Fortuna has to say goodbye to her longtime Miami apartment building, The Seaway, to move to an assisted living community, Estrella spends the day with her. Tía explains the significance of her most important possessions from both her Cuban and Jewish culture, as they learn to say goodbye together and explore a new beginning for Tía. A lyrical book about tradition, culture, and togetherness, Tía Fortuna’s New Home explores Tía and Estrella’s Sephardic Jewish and Cuban heritage. Through Tía’s journey, Estrella will learn that as long as you have your family, home is truly where the heart is.

Tomatoes for Neela
By Padma Lakshmi
Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593202708 | Viking BFYR
Neela loves cooking with her amma and writing down the recipes in her notebook. It makes her feel closer to her paati who lives far away in India. On Saturdays, Neela and Amma go to the green market and today they are buying tomatoes to make Paati’s famous sauce. But first, Neela needs to learn about all the different kinds of tomatoes they can pick from. And as Neela and Amma cook together, they find a way for Paati to share in both the love and the flavors of the day. Bestselling author and host of Bravo’s Top Chef and Hulu’s Taste the Nation Padma Lakshmi takes young readers on an intergenerational journey full of delicious flavors and fun food facts that celebrates a family’s treasured recipes.

Tough Like Mum
By Lana Button
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
32 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265981 | Tundra Books
Kim’s mum is tough. Everyone says so. She can deal with unruly customers at the Red Rooster with a snap of her fingers. Kim is tough, too. She doesn’t need to wear a hat to keep her ears warm. And she can make soup all by herself, even without the stove. Kim and her mum are tough. But Kim is learning that sometimes toughness doesn’t look like what you’d expect. In this tender exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, Kim and her mother learn that in order to support and truly take care of each other, they need to be tough – and that sometimes being tough means showing vulnerability and asking for help.