Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Awesome Fiction & Chapter Books that Feature Autistic Characters

This website uses affiliate links. As an affiliate and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which means I make a small commission when you use these links, at no additional cost to you.

Do I have hyperlexia? Is my child hyperlexic? Take the free online hyperlexia quiz today!

This list of fiction and chapter books feature autistic characters. So if you're been looking for autism fiction and autism chapter book suggestions, then start with these awesome book picks!

Both children and adults alike should feel as if they are represented in literature in someway, regardless of race, religion, background, or disability.

My hope is to compile a great list of autism fiction and chapter books that really capture a variety of autistic perspectives in literature. 

I have tried my best to select books that feature autistic characters that feel as authentic and realistic as possible, as a way to truly capture and show what it's like to grow up as autistic.

Now, having said that, I am not autistic myself so I don't truly know what's it like to be autistic. However, I do believe that the books listed here are pretty good at capturing various autistic traits. I also found myself nodding along to each of these books, on more than one occasion, thinking about how my autistic son does that too or thinks that way, etc. So I do feel confident that these selections are truly representative.

A list of autism fiction and autism chapter books that feature autistic characters

About this Book of Autism Chapter Books

Here's what you need to know about this book list:

  • This list will be updated as I find new titles to share.
  • I've personally read all of these books myself, unless otherwise noted. 
  • This book list was updated on December 16, 2020 to remove two book suggestions that I have since learned are ableist and problematic and no longer feel comfortable recommending. I apologize for my errors as I continually learn about ableism. I'm sorry for any harm caused. One book was also added. Updated the blurb regarding Underdogs to include the second book in the series.
  • Real, The Boy Who Steals Houses, Can You See Me?, and Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse were added to the list in April 2021.

Autism Fiction & Chapter Books

Real by Carol Cujec & Peyton Goddard

1. Real

By Carol Cujec & Peyton Goddard

An #OwnVoices book based on a true story (based on Peyton's own experiences). The book is about a 13 year old non-speaking autistic girl named Charity who, with the support of an excellent aide, learns how to type to communicate.

This book had my interest right from the first sentence and I couldn't put it down. I ended up binge reading it in a day and cried when Charity typed her first sentence "I am intelligent." Seriously, this book had me feeling all the feels!

Real is easily one of the best autism books I've ever read. It's actually probably my favorite on this entire list. It is absolutely fantastic and I cannot recommend it enough. 

Can You See Me? by Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott

2. Can You See Me?

By Libby Scott & Rebecca Westcott

Okay, this book is excellent for so many reasons. First things first, it is co-written by an autistic kid (she was probably 10 or 11 at the time of publishing, not sure) based on her own experiences. That means you end up with a pretty authentic portrayal of an autistic experience. 

But what I love the most about this book is the diary entries that are spread throughout the book. Most of the diary entries also include autism facts on topics such as demand avoidance, masking, anxiety, and so much more. What an awesome way to educate people on autism while tying it into a story! 

Highly recommend this book. It does have a sequel called Do You Know Me?, but I haven't read it yet myself.

The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G.Drews

3. The Boy Who Steals Houses

By C.G. Drews

Another #OwnVoices book that I couldn't put down and ended up reading in a day. The ending of the book absolutely gutted me and had me in a puddle of tears. 

This book is about two brothers who have been abandoned by everyone in their family and they ran away from their aunt's house. Sam is 15 and breaks into empty houses, trying to save money to buy a house for himself and his older brother Avery who is autistic. But one day, Sam wakes up to a house that is far from empty and falls in love with a girl who lives there.

 Ah, I absolutely loved this book and the positive portrayal of autism in it. Highly recommend it. It's excellent.

By Nicole Panteleakos

I may or may not have binge read this book in a day. It's SO good! It features a nonspeaking autistic girl named Nova who's passionate about outer space. The ending just gutted me. Ugh...So. Many. Emotions. Highly recommend this book! The author of this book is also autistic.

On the Edge of Gone

5. On the Edge of Gone

By Corinne Duyvis

Set in the future, this book is about an autistic teenager named Denise and her family trying to obtain a spot on ship set to leave Earth after a comet has hit the planet. Her mother is a drug addict and her sister, Iris, is missing. Denise sets out to find her sister while trying to prove her worth so that she and her family can get one of those limited spots on the ship.

I couldn't put this book down. It was so good! I also love that the author herself, Corinne Duyvais, is autistic, which really helped to make Denise's character more authentic and realistic. She's a really likable character. Another thing to note about this book is the diversity of the characters. There's everything from the autistic protagonist to a transgender character. Tons of diversity!

The State of Grace

6. The State of Grace

By Rachael Lucas
Ah, another binge read! The author of this book is autistic and a parent of an autistic child. I think this is the reason that this book has such an incredibly authentic feel and perspective. The novel is about an autistic teenager named Grace and it features a male character diagnosed with ADHD too. It was a really great book!


7. Underdogs

By Chris Bonnello

I've been a huge fan of Chris's blog Autistic Not Weird for a long time, so of course I had to check out his #OwnVoices book. And then proceed to binge read it in two days...I could not put this book down! It was so so good. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.

This book features a whole group of neurodiverse characters from Kate who's autistic and has severe anxiety to Ewan who has PDA. This group of misfit kids - yes kids...okay teens - are fighting to save Britain from millions of cloned soldiers.

Book 2 is also available now Underdogs: Tooth and Nail, although I haven't read it yet, and book 3 is going to be coming out soon as well.

Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse book

8. Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse

By Susan Vaught

Another #OwnVoices Book. This one is about an autistic girl and her friend trying to solve a theft that her dad has been charged with. I found the beginning kind of slow and scattered. I don't know if it was her writing style or if it was the way the story jumps back and forth between two different weeks that made it kind of hard to get into. I'm obviously not its target reader though so I kept pushing through and it did pick up.

What I really liked about this book was the friendship between the main character Jesse and her friend Springer. It was lovely! I also thought that the portrayal of autism in this book was really quite good. I even kind of wondered if Jesse might have been hyperlexic or hypernumerate as well. There was something at the beginning of the book that mentioned reading early and she was gifted with math, much like my own son, so I did wonder if she might be.

A Boy Called Bat

8. A Boy Called Bat

By Elana K. Arnold

I cannot say enough positive things about this book, as well as its sequel. They are both very sweet books about an autistic boy called, yep you guessed it, Bat. His mother is a veterinarian who brings home a newborn skunk kit after its mother is killed and Bat immediately falls in love with the kit, wanting to help raise it.

I personally loved seeing Bat's insights into how he interpreted the world around him. I also appreciate the portrayal of Bat's divorced parents in a positive light, making this book a great read for kids who have divorced parents. I also enjoyed how Bat's relationship with his sister was pretty realistic with its ups and downs.

Bat and the Waiting Game

9. Bat and the Waiting Game

By Elana K. Arnold

This book is the follow-up to A Boy Called Bat and, to be honest, I think I enjoyed this book even more so than the first. It really focuses on Bat's developing friendship with a classmate named Israel. Just an overall great book! I highly recommend both Bat books (and I think there's a third coming out soon too!) as an independent read for your child and as a read aloud at home or in the classroom.

Bat and the End of Everything

10. Bat and the End of Everything

By Elana K. Arnold

Okay, I haven't had a chance to read this book quite yet, but if it's anything like the first two, it will be just as good.

Caterpillar Summer

11. Caterpillar Summer

By Gillian McDunn

I stumbled upon this book when I was placing a Scholastic book order and decided to give it a read. It was a really sweet book. This book is about a girl named Cat and her younger brother Chicken, who is presumably autistic. Chicken's special interest is sharks and he absolutely loves them. The siblings end up staying with the grandparents they've never met for three weeks during the summer. I instantly fell in love with both Cat and Chicken. And, honestly, it's so nice to see an autistic person of color represented for a change too. I also thought the portrayal of autistic traits was well done.

The Real Boy

12. The Real Boy

By Anne Ursu

I loved the main character Oscar, who is clearly autistic, even if it's not labelled as such in the text. And I thought that the author did a great job at capturing and describing autistic traits. It seemed like a pretty authentic account of autism, in my opinion.

The book was good, especially if you are into fantasy or fairy tale style books, but I must admit, it really wasn't my cup of tea. Midway though I got mad at the plot (I won't give spoilers!), but then it resolved itself and I was all like phew, thank goodness it didn't go further that way because then it would have been kind of dumb haha. But I am also not its target audience.

So overall, good book if you like books in this genre.

The Space We're In

By Katya Balen

This book was pretty good. It's about 10 year old Frank and his relationship with his non-speaking brother Max who communicates through flapping hands, some sign language, and pictures. I thought the book did a decent job of capturing Max's autistic traits.

Other Book Lists You'll Love

A list of autism fiction and autism chapter books that feature autistic characters