For you and your child with autism, at-home reading is an amazing activity to help language and social skills. A fun challenge in creating a consistent routine is finding appropriate reading material for your child’s skills and helping them develop a love for reading on their own.
This is why we’ve put together a list of child-friendly books to read this summer that might appeal to your child with autism. We hope they help with autism reading comprehension strategies and bring joy from the stories themselves.
Your child with autism will be developing his or her skills at their own pace. Many young children with ASD will have social or foundational language skills that may be developed at a different rate, which can impact willingness to learn as well as their reading comprehension skills.
As a parent, the best things you can do to help your child with autism read are:
Using these broad methods along with child-specific tips and tools provided by a licensed professional will work wonders to grow your child’s reading skills.
For children with autism, reading skills will vary significantly based on age and development. High-functioning children with autism may still face difficulties in reading programs even if they have developed the skill itself well.
Keeping in mind that these are just guidelines, we recommend books in these categories and difficulty levels for the following ages:
Ages 2-4: Pictures books, books that have buttons or built-in toys, and books that focus on primary educational development. Shapes, colors, sounds can all be taught through reading these books.
Ages 6-8: Your child can hopefully be reading more on their own and choosing their topics. Finding books that match their interests as well as educational ones about neurodiverse children can be a great way to help address these topics.
Ages 8+: As your child gets further into a program that includes traditional education, it is often wise to incorporate reading lists from school or peers. This can be part of an ABA framework with an Individualized Education Plan, or just building off of enthusiasm that your child may have for reading.
Regardless of your child’s age, they will have individual needs relative to their skills. You may have to work with them on vocalization or phonetics for words they are not familiar with or help transition from book styles as they become more proficient. The important thing is to maintain a routine, embrace their interests, and create an ASD reading environment that benefits your whole family.
There are thousands of wonderful books with diverse subject matter that we could recommend. Here are 8 of our favorites to read over the summer for your child with autism:
1) A Friend Like Simon: This is a story about a boy with autism named Simon who attends a mainstream school. Through an up-and-down friendship with a boy named Matthew, they teach each other how to appreciate differences and accept them among peers.
2) Turtle in Paradise: Turtle in Paradise is a coming of age story set in 1935 about an 11 year old girl named Turtle. She is sent to live with her aunt and cousins in Key West, Florida, and must adapt to a new state in a depression-era environment.
3) Nope. Never. Not for me!: This book is designed for children on the autism spectrum or with sensory issues. It encourages the exploration of new experiences via the story of a young child.
4) Escape This Book!: This is a series of books that provide choose-your-own-adventure plots along with doodling exercises. These books are great for multiple-skill engagement.
5) Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile: This classic 1980’s story is great for elementary-age children. It is about a crocodile that lives in New York with a family until their neighbor insists he is put in a zoo. Over the course of the book, Lyle learns to show how differences can be settled and wins over the neighbor.
6) Horse Girl: A great novel for teenage children who are looking to read about changes in their lives and identities. It addresses making friends, dealing with family, and life as a seventh-grader.
7) My Brother Charlie: Charlie is a boy with autism who is shy, but has many special talents such as playing the piano and memorizing facts. His older sister tells about his special gifts and how he’s different from most children, but special and dear to her heart.
8) Benji, the Bad Day, and Me: Sammy and Benji are brothers who are both having bad days. Benji has autism, and Sammy realizes that he and Benji can help support each other even though they have differences and sometimes no one pays attention to Sammy.
These books represent a mix of educational books, books about children with autism, and age-appropriate literature that is fun to read. We hope some of these selections encourage you and your child to build skills together all summer long!
At Ally Pediatric Therapy, we understand the challenges that children and families face while learning to read. Our licensed professionals can help provide ABA frameworks that include summer reading and skill-building for the whole family.
If you are interested in learning more about how to best help your child develop their skills for a better life please reach out today – we’d love to help.