Pookie likes certain kinds of books. While they are popular with all 4 year olds, they are especially appealing to kids with ASD. These books generally have one of several key features: repetition, predictabilty, surprises, obnoxious sounds, interaction or rhyming. Some of his favorites are listed below. I think they would be popular with any ASD child.
Duck in the Truck by Jez Alborough. This book has a great rhyming pattern and some great opportunities to make funny voices. We also like the author’s other books, such as Captain Duck, Hit the Ball, Duck and Duck’s Key: Where Can It Be, but their rhyming scheme is a bit more complex.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. The plot is predictable and makes sense to a child. If you give a mouse a glass of milk, he is going to want a cookie to go with it, of course. Every page follows this pattern and kids find comfort in knowing what comes next. Laura Numeroff has several other books on this premise as well, all are equally good and a nice change of pace from Mouse.
There’s a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss. Funny sounding words and rhyming, how can you go wrong with that?
Dr. Seuss’s ABC, by Dr. Seuss. See above.
Big Green Monster, by Ed Emberly. No rhyming, but great die-cut pages and a funny plot. The surprise is that after the scary monster reveals himself, you can make his disappear, page by page. We like to yell out certain parts, to prove that we are not scared.
Duck for President by Doreen Cronin. This one surprised us. There is no rhyming, it’s sort of long and it’s about politics for gosh’ sakes. But Pookie loves it. There is a pattern to the story; following Duck through his political career. And there are some fun lists of words in each section. (“at the end of each day, Duck is covered from head to toe in hay, horsehair, seeds, sprouts, filth, mud, muck and coffee stains.”) Also, we read this one with enthusiasm and shout “Duck WINS!” when the results of each election are announced. Sure, its not part of the story, but the chance for audience interaction, especially shouting, is always popular.
More Spaghetti, I Say by Rita Golden Gelman. A cute rhyming story about a monkey named Minnie who loves eating spaghetti so much that she cannot find time to play with her friend. You can’t help but read it at a fast and lively pace. This one has Pookie saying “I love it, I love it, I love it, I do!” everytime he eats spaghetti, just like Minnie.
Fluffy Bunny, a soft to touch book, by Piers Harper. This one also surprised us at first but we are learning to understand the way Pookie’s mind works. Again, this book has repetition and the chance to interact. The bunny travels from family to family until he finds the one which is right for him. There is no rhyming, but there is repetition in the plot as Fluffy Bunny visits the otters, mice, horses and wood peckers. Also, one or more animals on each page is covered in soft, fuzzy felt. Pookie and Geetle find each one and pet them.
Hand Art by the Editors of Klutz. Ok, this one is not a story book. It is an art project book. It shows you how to trace your hand and turn the drawing into different animals. There is one word on each page and certainly no plot. But Pookie likes this one because it is interactive. He puts his hand in each drawing, turning it this way and that until it fits; bending and pointing his fingers. It’s like a puzzle. He also figured out that we can make Hand Art ourselves and it is now one of his favorite art projects.
Lyle at the Office by Bernard Waber. Not sure why this one is popular. No rhyming, no predictability in the plot, no surprise endings, no funny sounds or words. And its long; almost too long for my attention span. If anyone can explain how this fits into the list, let me know! But, since I trust Pookie’s opinions on this topic, I will include it.
My Little Yellow Taxi by Stephen Johnson. This book is truly interactive as it teaches you what it is like to drive a taxi cab. Children get to check the tire pressure, pump the gas and use the steering wheel. Each page includes a super-chunky cardboard cutout. On the dashboard page, you actually get to pop out a cardboard key, put it in the ignition, turn the key and put the car into gear. Our book got so much play that we had to glue parts back together after the first day. Children with ASD often struggle with pretend play. This book uses the familiar format of a story book to encourage pretending. Double bonus.
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire. Rhyming and Colors. Many kids with ASD are very skilled in number, letter and color recognition at an early age. Additionally, most truly like games and books about colors! I think its because colors are very concrete and easy to organize and sort. In my experience, you can’t go wrong with any book about colors.