From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Neurodiversity

Teach your kid that the human brain functions in a variety of ways.

Feb 24, 2022



From the Scholastic Bookshelf: How to Talk to Your Child About Neurodiversity

Feb 24, 2022

Neurodiversity celebrates the many different ways our brains function, removing the stigma associated with conditions that are often tagged as learning disabilities, like autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Instead of viewing these diagnoses as abnormal, neurodiversity supports the view that our brains don’t all operate the same way — and that’s OK.  

Whether your child is neurodivergent or neurotypical, there are resources you can share with your child to show they are not alone in their experience or to offer perspective on their peers’ experiences.

For its 100th anniversary, Scholastic spoke with experts to identify a set of tips, articles, and books that make starting a conversation with your child about neurodiversity easier. These resources are part of a broader initiative, called the Scholastic Bookshelf, created for Instagram to raise awareness around contemporary issues affecting children today.

For more quick tips and book recommendations, sign up for our Scholastic Parents newsletter! 

Neurodiversity Stories for Read-Alouds and Beginner Readers:

In My Brother Charlie and its sequel, Charlie Makes a Splash, we meet an active and spirited boy like any other — except Charlie has autism. Told from his sister Callie’s point of view, readers follow the adventures of Charlie and learn what makes him special, including his relationship with animals and the comfort he draws from aquatic environments. Through Charlie, this family learns the importance of togetherness, tolerance, hope, and love. 

Written by actress Holly Robinson Peete, a neurodiversity advocate — and co-authored by her son Ryan, who lives with autism — these books will shine on any bookshelf.

Neurodiversity Stories for Independent Readers:

Readers in upper grades are familiar with the pressures of growing up. In Can You See Me? and Focused, they’ll get a different perspective on student life through the eyes of two neurodivergent characters. 

Can You See Me? is the story of Tally, a 6th grader with autism trying to fit in during her first year at a new school. Tally is unashamed of her autism, even if it does complicate her life sometimes. But when she arrives at Kingswood Academy, the other students and even her best friend Layla act uncomfortable around her. As Tally grapples with what it means to be “normal” in middle school, she also questions whether fitting in is really what matters most.

In Focused, readers meet Clea, who is growing increasingly distracted at school, during her extracurriculars, and even while she’s hanging out with friends. Clea’s inability to control her attention is leading up to an adolescent ADHD diagnosis. Clea’s not sure how to fix a problem that’s in her head, but if she’s going to put her attention where it needs to be, she’ll have to get focused somehow.

Extreme attention is another variation of brain function. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) expresses itself through obsessive thinking coupled with compulsive behavior, often in the form of rituals, intended to combat said obsessions. In “What I Want You To Know About Living With OCD” from Scholastic Choices magazine, readers are introduced to 17-year-old Harper, a teen living with OCD, who shares what it’s like to navigate this often-debilitating illness.

Be sure to visit the Scholastic Bookshelf for more resources on neurodiversity. If you’re planning to talk with your child about other complex topics and seek tips or book recommendations, visit our Tough Topics hub. You’ll find a wealth of advice from Scholastic editors to help you navigate challenging conversations thoughtfully. Recent topic additions include:

Shop heartwarming books with important lessons about neurodiversity below. You can shop all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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