Stories about: autism

Reading to teach and heal: More books for 8-12 year olds

Middle-schooler reading book in winter

The holiday season is a time to reflect, find gratitude and show kindness, especially to those who may be struggling. It’s also a great time to escape the chaos and hunker down with a good book.

Why not do both?

Today, there are more and more books about children and teens coping with physical and mental health issues that help young readers empathize with these characters but also relate, especially if they’re faced with a similar condition. We’ve selected five books that will not only make great gifts for the kids on your list, but also will stay with them long after those holiday decorations are put away.


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Reading to teach and heal: Best books for 8-12 year olds

Best books for 8-12 year olds.

Books are great tools for teaching empathy to children. They can help kids understand what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes — someone with a physical or mental disability, chronic illness or learning difference. They can also help kids with medical issues see how other kids cope — which can be validating or even help spark new ideas. And books help younger generations recognize that no matter what obstacle they may face, they’re still just kids, and they’re not alone.

Today, many children’s book authors are weaving characters with medical conditions into their stories with appropriate sensitivity to both inform and create a sense of understanding among readers. Here are four must-reads for 8-12 year olds:

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Focus on: Autism spectrum disorder

Definition of autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

April is Autism Awareness Month and there is a lot in the news about autism. More and more children — up to one out of 68 — are diagnosed with autism. Sesame Street even has a new character, Julia, who has autism. But what exactly is this condition, how does it affect children and what can you do to help?

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Samantha’s story: Partnering with BACPAC program to end bullying

During the fifth grade when Samantha was 10 years old, she was bullied by a male classmate. She remembers walking through the halls of her elementary school and hearing the bully call out these words:

“Why are you on this earth? You don’t deserve to be alive.”

The bullying followed her every day.

“I didn’t want to go to school because I knew he would be there. I was afraid,” says Samantha, now 12.

Weeks into the school year, the harassment and intimidation escalated and turned physical.

“It was usually mental [abuse], but at one point in fifth grade the bully came up to me, and he punched me on the back,” says Samantha quietly. This was the breaking point.

“I had enough,” says Samantha’s mother Karen. “The verbal and physical abuse needed to stop.”

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