LAUP celebrates our youngest children this month, exploring ways that we—as their teachers and role models—can lift them up and provide a strong foundation for their individual lives. Reading with your child is one of the best bonding experiences, and provides a way for parents to see the world from their perspective.
Acknowledging that April is Autism Awareness Month, we’ve selected titles that resonate with all children including those on the autism spectrum, along with one excellent “how-to” guide for parents.
by Rosemary Wells (Viking $17.99) Age 2-5
Brand new this spring from the beloved author of the “Max and Ruby” books, this volume finds two-year-old Sophie grappling with a paralyzing shyness toward strangers. It’s a condition familiar to many families, with special resonance for parents of autistic children that may lag behind typically developing kids in social fluency.
Sophie is a charming little mouse, accompanying her parents and baby sister on sweet adventures to the bakery, park, and library. But simple words like “hello” and “thank you” stay locked up inside, no matter how much she wants to be polite.
Wells has a gift for intuiting the inner life of toddlers, and expresses Sophie’s world with soft and warm pastel illustrations. But Wells—in her eighth decade of life—also has the wisdom to call in Granny mouse, who offers the creative solution that ultimately frees Sophie of her embarrassment.
by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, illustrations by Shane W. Evans (Scholastic $17.99) Age 5-10
Actress and national autism spokesperson Peete enlisted her daughter (age 12 when the book was written) to help craft a universal story based upon their own family experience: Ryan Elizabeth’s twin brother RJ was diagnosed with autism at age three.
Together the team created this heartwarming and true-to-life tale of ten-year-old Charlie, which countless families have used to start conversations with and about their own autistic children. Charlie’s fictional twin Callie is protective and insightful, and the story is told joyfully from a sister’s point of view. Ryan Elizabeth, who in grade school created a program she called Autism 101 to help classmates understand her brother, also includes some basic tips at the end of the book.
For parents only:
by Jennifer McIlwee Myers (Future Horizons $19.95) Adult
Myers knows better than most that when a child thinks differently, it means they will learn differently. She has Asperger’s herself, has an autistic brother, and is co-author of the award-winning Asperger’s and Girls. With a straightforward and humorous delivery, Myers give practical, real-world advice for parents and caregivers, in their pursuit to support their child, wherever he or she may fall on the spectrum. She hones-in on how to nurture the basic life skills (punctuality, hygiene, self-care, social niceties, basic housekeeping, etc.) that are essential in family life, school and work environments.