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9 books for children that champion neurodiversity

Liz and Julie at Next Page Books in Hitchin – a children's bookshop devoted to inclusivity and diversity – share a list of books which feature neurodiverse characters. Whichever genre they read, the ability to choose from books in which they can see themselves is vital when it comes to reading for pleasure.

Next Page Books

"At Next Page Books, we love matching the right book with the right child. We are passionate about inclusivity and diversity, with a special focus on neurodiversity, and it's encouraging to find that over the last few years there are an increasing number of children's books being published that shine a light on this area.

We have put together a short list of books that we stock which champion neurodiversity, improving children's understanding of how our differences make us interesting as individuals." Liz & Julie

What Makes a Lemur Listen? written by Samuel Langley-Swain and illustrated by Helen Panayi (3+)

'Just like all ring-tailed lemurs, Maki liked to bathe in the sun and huddle under the moon. BUT one thing Maki DIDN'T like to do, was LISTEN!'

Join Maki on his adventures through the Madagascan forest, where things may not be as they seem. Can clever chameleon, Sofina, help Maki to listen when it matters the most?

For children, this charming story is about a loveable lemur who learns to listen. Without any direct reference, this charming picture book can help develop an understanding of demand avoidance and how someone else's brain might function differently.

What Makes a Lemur Listen? written by Samuel Langley-Swain and illustrated by Helen Panayi

Lilly and Myles: The Torch written by Jon Roberts and illustrated by Hannah Rounding (3+)

Accompanied by Myles, her assistance dog, Lily sets off from Granny's house to explore. First she walks through the garden, then she visits the seashore. But when she comes to the big cave at the end of the beach, her acute hearing means she is scared of the loud noise when she drops her torch. And what's that creature she can hear coming towards her?

This new story gently introduces themes that an autistic child may find tricky, plus how an assistance dog can be an invaluable friend and helper.

Lilly and Myles: The Torch written by Jon Roberts and illustrated by Hannah Rounding

Major and Mynah written by Karen Owen and illustrated by Louise Forshaw (6+)

Join SPUD, the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives, on their first fast-paced detective adventure.

Getting your first hearing aids can be nerve-wracking, especially when you have to wear them to school. When Callie realises her new hearing aids – 'the Slugs' – give her the unique ability to communicate with Bo the Mynah bird, some of her worries are lifted.

Funny, with large font size, decent spacing and illustrations, this book has a character who uses hearing aids, and is accessible to many.

Major and Mynah written by Karen Owen and illustrated by Louise Forshaw

Wonderfully Wired Brains written by Louise Gooding and illustrated by Ruth Burrows (7+)

Combining neurodiverse experiences with science, history, and brain-bursting facts, Wonderfully Wired Brains has something for everyone!

Whether your child is neurodiverse or not, this book will inspire inquisitive young readers and show them that no two brains function in the same way, and that everyone's differences should be celebrated.

Accurate, understandable explanations of diagnoses that impact the brain, including each area of neurodiversity and what it can or does mean for anyone with that particular neurological difference. We love this book for developing understanding of yourself and others.

Wonderfully Wired Brains written by Louise Gooding and illustrated by Ruth Burrows

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll (8+)

A Kind of Spark tells the story of 11-year-old Addie as she campaigns for a memorial in memory of the witch trials that took place in her Scottish hometown. Addie knows there's more to the story of these 'witches', just like there is more to hers. Can Addie challenge how the people in her town see her, and her autism, and make her voice heard?

We've heard Elle speak at a local school and she was inspirational! A Kind of Spark is also now on CBBC which makes it even more accessible.

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

The Boy who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter (8+)

Billy Plimpton is an 11-year-old boy with a big dream. He wants to be a stand-up comedian when he grows up: delivering pinpoint punch-lines and having audiences hang on his every hilarious word. A tough career for anyone, but surely impossible for Billy, who has a stammer
How will he find his voice, if his voice won't let him speak?

The idea for this story came from Helen Rutter's son, who has a stammer: she wanted to write the book that he would love to read, starring a child like him. It's funny and thought-provoking… and we love it!

The Boy who Made Everyone Laugh by Helen Rutter

The Small Things by Lisa Thompson (8+)

This is a personal one for me as my daughter has medical needs and is unable to be in school as much as she'd like, which we know is similar to many neurodivergent kids. In this thoughtful book, like my daughter, a character is supported by a robot which goes to school in place of them when they are unable to, and this book is fabulous for supporting children who are in that situation. It's also published by Barrington Stoke so is super-accessible, especially for dyslexia, but also supports many other individual needs.

The Small Things by Lisa Thompson

Frankie's World & Finding My Voice by Aoife Dooley  (9+)

How do you find your voice when everyone around you is telling you to be quiet?

Frankie is different, and so is her best-friend, Sam. So when they both start secondary school, it's tough. Particularly when there are so many rules to follow, like: No talking in class! Be quiet in the hallways! Silence for assembly! Can Frankie learn to find her voice and stand out?

A unique perspective on autism, told with humour and heart. This is an outstanding series of stunning graphic novels which is perfect for kids preparing and moving up to secondary school – we love and recommend this book so often!

Frankie's World & Finding My Voice by Aoife Dooley

When I See Blue by Lily Bailey (10+)

Sometimes Ben's brain makes him count to four to prevent bad things happening. Sometimes it makes him tap or blink in fours. Mostly it makes the smallest things feel impossible. And with a new school, a moody big brother, an absent dad and a mum battling her own demons, Ben feels more out of control than ever. But then he meets April, and with his new friend, Ben might finally figure out how to stand up to the bully in his brain, once and for all.

We aim to stock books that reflect a wide range of mental health conditions – authentically written, they are so important for both echoing the lives of our readers, and enabling insight into the lives of others. This book is a great example of that.

When I See Blue by Lily Bailey
Next Page Books

What makes Next Page Books a great place to visit?

"Our children's bookshop, Next Page Books, is located at the bottom of Windmill Hill in the beautiful market town of Hitchin. The town is well known for its range of wonderful independent shops and we are proud to be one of them! We have a great selection of children's books and also a small adult offering for the parents/carers to choose from. Our specialism is Inclusivity and Diversity, particularly NeuroDiversity, and we aim to make our shop a welcoming community base for all. We particularly enjoy working with schools and community groups who might benefit from our specialist knowledge when expanding their own book collections and recommendations." Liz & Julie

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