Books are magical in that they can help our children understand themselves and their peers better. Books allow them to see things from different points of view and are one of the most powerful ways children can begin to make sense of the world around them. Here we have compiled a list of books for children all about inclusion, acceptance, and uniqueness. They are also books that touch on themes of friendship, feelings, and overcoming worries. If you have a book suggestion for children, teens, or even favorite parent books leave a comment and let us know! Check back frequently as we add new books to our list.
1. The Masterpiece (One Big Canvas) by Jay Miletsky (Author), Luis Peres (Illustrator)
When some of the brushes don’t cooperate, is it because they are misbehaving…or is there another reason entirely? In this story, young readers are introduced to some of the behavioral differences in their autistic peers. Without ever mentioning any particular challenge or disability by name, this story helps children recognize and understand what autism is, and impress upon them the importance of showing kindness to those who are different, wrapped into a fun story with lighthearted, engaging characters.
2. All My Stripes: A Story for Children With Autism by Shaina Rudolph (Author), Danielle Royer (Author), Jennifer Zivoin (Illustrator)
Zane the zebra feels different from the rest of his classmates. He worries that all they notice about him is his “autism stripe.” With the help of his Mama, Zane comes to appreciate all his stripes — the unique strengths that make him who he is! Includes a Reading Guide with additional background information about autism spectrum disorders and a Note to Parents and Caregivers with tips for finding support.
3. The Boy with Big, Big Feelings by Britney Winn Lee
Meet a boy with feelings so big that they glow from his cheeks, spill out of his eyes, and jump up and down on his chest. When a loud truck drives by, he cries. When he hears a joke, he bursts with joy. When his loved ones are having a hard day, he feels their emotions as if they were his own. The boy tries to cope by stuffing down his feelings, but with a little help and artistic inspiration, the boy realizes his feelings are something to be celebrated. The Boy with Big, Big Feelings is relatable for any child, but especially for children experiencing anxiety and extreme emotions, or who have been diagnosed with autism or as a Highly Sensitive Person.
4. Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book by Celeste Shally
Matt’s autism doesn’t keep him from having fun! Even when he struggles in social situations, his friend is there to help him out. The two boys love playing sports watching movies, reading books, and talking about animals. By working together, a best friend’s understanding and compassion change Matt’s frustration into excitement
5. The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad Hardcover by Dr. Robert Goldblatt PsyD (Author, Illustrator)
There once was a boy who didn’t want to be sad. So he made a decision. He made a plan. The plan was to get rid of everything that made him sad. but what he found out when he tried to get rid of sadness was a very, very big lesson in happiness. This book helps children face and even celebrate their emotions, even the uncomfortable ones, as parts of the whole experience of being alive.
6. Just Breathe Paperback by Annette Rivlin-Gutman (Author), Melissa Bailey (Illustrator)
Just Breathe is for any child who feels anxious or worried when facing everyday life circumstances such as going to a new school, taking a test, arguing with a friend, or trying out for a team. In this charming story, the child remembers to breathe deeply in order to find his own inner calm and successfully cope with each new situation.
7. Wonder Hardcover by R. J. Palacio (for older kids)
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award master list, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.
8. Noah Chases the Wind Hardcover – by Michelle Worthington (Author), Joseph Cowman (Illustrator)
Noah is different. He sees, hears, feels, and thinks in ways that other people don’t always understand, and he asks a lot of questions along the way. Noah loves science, especially the weather. His books usually provide him with the answers he needs, until one day, there’s one question they don’t answer—and that is where Noah’s windy adventure begins.
9. What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada
This is the story of a persistent problem and the child who isn’t so sure what to make of it. The longer the problem is avoided, the bigger it seems to get. But when the child finally musters up the courage to face it, the problem turns out to be something quite different than it appeared. What Do You Do With a Problem? is a story for anyone, at any age, who has ever had a problem that they wished would go away. It’s a story to inspire you to look closely at that problem and to find out why it’s here. Because you might discover something amazing about your problem… and yourself.
10. The Worry Box Hardcover by Suzanne Chiew (Author), Sean Julian (Illustrator)
Murray Bear is supposed to go to the waterfall with his sister, Molly, to meet a friend, but Murray is worried. “What if it’s too LOUD?” he cries “Or what if I get swept away!” So Molly tells him about her special worry box. “When I’m worried about something,” she says, “I write it down, then put it inside.” She offers to help make one for Murray, and he takes it on their journey-but will it really help?
11. Strictly No Elephants Hardcover by Lisa Mantchev (Author), Taeeun Yoo (Illustrator)
Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.
12. Standing Up to OCD Workbook For Kids by Tyson Reuter PhD (Author) (for older kids)
The Standing Up to OCD Workbook for Kids has 40 fun activities to help you manage bad thoughts, say goodbye to worried feelings, and quit actions that are hard to stop―so you can get back to doing your favorite things. Color, write, draw, and use your thinking skills to show your OCD who’s really in charge (and that’s you!). When it comes to controlling those difficult feelings and thoughts, practice makes perfect. You can do this!
13. Tully and Me: A story about differences, understanding, and friendship Paperback by Keeley A Shaw (Author)
Tully and Me explores a friendship built on differences and understanding. Tully represents an individual affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder. The unique characteristics associated with Autism are portrayed including an affinity for counting and order, and a love for visual stimulation. Whimsical watercolor illustrations help to showcase a unique friendship that is nurtured through adversity and understanding. Tully and Me explores a world where our differences and the universal language of a smile bring us together.
14. A Friend for Henry: (Books About Making Friends, Children’s Friendship Books, Autism Awareness Books for Kids) by Jenn Bailey (Author), Mika Song (Illustrator)
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.