Celebrating Autism Awareness Month with YA Fiction

April is National Autism Awareness Month, and with it comes many ways of sharing information about autism with our teen community. To support those with Autism, and to share stories about autism, we have put together a book list for teens to read about autism.

The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, a finalist for the Books for a Better Life: First Book Award and New York Times Bestseller, is a memoir that follows thirteen-year-old Higashida. Higashida, who is autistic, shares how he thinks, feels, and responds to day-to-day life. Higashida, who cannot speak outloud,  used a specific alphabet grid to make words that answer all types of questions. Although this book is cataloged as adult non-fiction, teen readers will be able to better understand those around them with autism.

The year is 2034 in Amsterdam and a comet is going to hit Earth soon in On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis. Sixteen-year-old Denise, who is autistic, must find her missing sister, Iris, before it is too late. Then, right before the comet hits, Denise finds a spaceship that is leaving Earth for a new world, but each passenger must have a practical skill that can contribute to the new colony. Denise fears she will be left behind due to her autism. This is a fast paced, science fiction read that is filled with diverse characters that delves deeper into the world of autism.

Holly Robinson Peete wrote Same But Different, a book about her twin brother, RJ, who has autism. Peete shares what it was like growing up with a close sibling who has autism, and all that can mean as a teen. She shares insights on dating, sports, school, and other kids who do not understand. Told through alternating stories, and alter egos (Callie shadows Peete and Charlie shadows RJ), this story is powerful and discusses aspects of autism that are not easy to talk about.

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin, follows Rose who has OCD and Asperger’s syndrome and her father is often absent from her life, so she spends most of her time with her beloved dog Rain. Suddenly, a storm rolls into her town and Rain goes missing, and Rose must battle her routines and insecurities to find her precious dog. This emotional read is very endearing about a girl who loves her dog who has a different way of life and who deals with life’s problems differently.

Lastly, Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork tells the story of Marcelo who has autism, which allows him to hear music nobody else can hear. He attends a special school where he has not had to struggle much with his peers, and his differences. During his junior year, his father makes him work at his law firm, in the mailroom, where he meets Jasmine, a beautiful girl, and Wendell, the son of another lawyer. Through his experiences in the real world, Marcelo learns about love, anger, jealousy, and friendship. This book is thought provoking, but also teaches it’s readers a lot about the battles Marcelo goes through once he is in the real world.