Monday, March 1, 2010

Books by Theme: Autism in fiction

In light of the fact that April is Autism Awareness Month, I thought I'd feature some great reads that focus on the autism spectrum and feature autistic characters so you guys can run out and put them on reserve for next month : )
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon 

Christopher John Francis Boone, 15, lives in England and has autism. He likes his world to be neat, orderly, routine, and predictable. Then his neighbor’s dog is found dead, which upsets the balance. As Christopher works to solve the mystery, he discovers a secret that his father has been keeping. As Christopher faces the deception, readers see how Christopher processes information and the feelings that the betrayal bring to the surface. He is truly courageous in this singular mystery/coming-of-age tale.

Al Capone Does My Shirts 
by Gennifer Choldenko

"Today I moved to a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water." So narrates 12-year-old Moose in this School Library Journal Best Book of 2004 set in 1935 on Alcatraz Island when gangster Al Capone is an inmate working in the prison laundry. Readers learn how Moose and his family ended up on Alcatraz—his father took a job as a prison guard so that Natalie, Moose’s sister, could attend the Ester P. Marinoff School for students with autism. The story addresses how having a sister with autism affects a sibling’s life more than autistic Natalie herself; Choldenko portrays both aspects of the story well. A humorous treat for siblings of people with autism and an entertaining read for all.

by Cynthia Lord

If the bathroom door is closed, knock! Say "thank you" when someone gives you a present (even if you don’t like it). No toys in the fish tank! These are just a few of the rules that 12- year-old Catherine has written for her autistic brother David to help him navigate the world and look "normal." Yet having a brother with autism takes a lot of "normal" out of life. Catherine loves David but is embarrassed by him and resents the amount of time and energy he requires of her parents. Befriending a boy with a different disability helps Catherine work through her feelings. An honest look at life in a family touched by autism from a rarely-heard-from perspective; an excellent read for siblings affected by autism.

Daniel Isn't Talking
by Marti Leimbach

The challenges of parenting are many; so are the joys. When a child is diagnosed with autism, both the challenges and the joys are doubled. Melanie fears there is something dreadfully wrong with her son, Daniel. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t play with toys, and he screams for hours. Melanie tries to talk to her husband, Stephen, about her fears, but Stephen is sure that Daniel will be fine. This is the story of Melanie’s fight to diagnose Daniel and to help him, with or without Stephen. An intimate, wrenching look at how autism can bring out the best and the worst in people and how they survive and triumph.

~  For more themed book lists, check out Listless by One Librarian's Book Reviews and Listed by Once Upon a Bookshelf ~


G Cummings said...

I might have to read one of these. It is amazing to me how autism is misunderstood by those who have never actually talked to a person affected by it.
I worked a video presentation on autism once and spent a good bit of a day when an older male with autism. It was amazing and gave me a greater appreciation of the illness(if you want to call it that) and how it affects everyone involved.
Good topic!

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

Unsub~ You should definitely try out Haddon's Curious Incident.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I really liked Curious Incident (read it a few years ago). But I know it's one of those books that people either loved or didn't like at all.

Trollololol said...

I have a severely autistic older brother whom I love to death. I'm ashamed to say that I've never read a book about autism or an autistic main character.

I think I might pick up Rules - when I was little my brother stuffed all my toys (including my Furby and Gameboy) into my fish tank; so reading that in the synopsis REALLY makes me want to read the book!

Thanks for posting this. :)

Frisbee said...

What a good list! I've only read one of these, The Curious Incident. And I do know some people with autistic daughters and sons, so I'll pass it on.

I do have a science fiction novel narrated by an autistic man, The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. It won an award, which is how I found out about it, and in some ways reminded me of The Curious Incident.

It is fascinating to find books that highlight one illness like this.

JaneGS said...

I loved The Curious Incident, and thought it was so unusual and fresh and interesting and poignant. In his book of reviews, The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby talks about George & Sam: Two Boys, One Family, and Autism, by Charlotte Moore, that I've been meaning to get for awhile. Your post reminded me to order it--thanks!

The other books like intriguing and worth reading as well.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

I really enjoyed the London Eye Mystery with an autistic main character as well. Great list!

Marie Cloutier said...

I didn't know Curious Incident was about autism. Huh. I have it in my TBR pile and need to read it soon.

Anonymous said...

Great list! When I taught 5th grade some other classes had their students read 'Al Capone Does My Shirts'. Our list for the year was already set and we couldn't fit it in, but it sounds so good! I should definitely read it. I am currently reading a non-fiction book about autism called 'Thinking in Pictures' by Temple Grandin, who has autism. So far some it feels a little bit like reading a textbook, but because I'm a special education teacher I find it interesting. Thanks for posting this list!

Unknown said...

I've read aloud Rules to my 7th graders and they enjoyed it. It gives them a picture of austism they can understand. I also liked that it looked at other forms of disabilites as well. Great book.

Anonymous said...

When I started reading A Curious Incident, I didn't realize the boy was autistic. It's one of my favorite books and the author did a great job.

Court said...

Awesome list. I haven't read any books about autistic characters, but some of these look really good. Thanks for pointing them all out. :)

Lisa said...

I really enjoyed "Curious Incident;" wonderfully unique point of view.

Did you happen to catch the new show "Parenthood?" They have a character (a little boy) that was diagnosed with Asperger's last night.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

No, I haven't seen that show. I'll have to check it out :)

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