Having a sibling with special needs can be difficult, but it can be an adventure, too. Here are two excellent chapter books about siblings who have autism.
The Lemonade War Series by Jacqueline Davis follows the Treski siblings, Evan and his younger sister Jessie. Evan has great people skills; Jessie does not. Jessie is great at math and even skipped 3rd grade…which means she’s going to be in the same grade as her older brother Evan. Their differences and misunderstandings eventually get the siblings into a competition to see who can make the most money selling lemonade. When the lemonade money is stolen, the siblings will each have to use what makes them unique to catch the thief. Though the book never says Jessie is on the Autism Spectrum the author has confirmed Jessie’s characteristics are meant to imply she has Asperger’s Syndrome. Most books which contain a character with a disability have their plot revolve around that character and their disability, but this is not the case with The Lemonade War Series, making it a unique and integrated series.
There’s one more thing I love about this series. Each chapter begins with a word and its definition. In The Lemonade War, each chapter begins with a word dealing with sales & marketing. In the second book, The Lemonade Crime, each chapter begins with a word dealing with the courtroom & the justice system. Whether readers are interested in autism or not, they will love this series.
Rules by Cynthia Lord is a Newbery Honor Award book. Catherine is twelve years old, desperately wants a new best friend, and has a brother with autism. Catherine has tried for years to teach David “rules” to follow so he will stop embarrassing her. Catherine is frustrated with her brother, and with her parents whose lives seem to revolve around David--ignoring Catherine’s needs. While accompanying her brother to a therapy appointment, Catherine meets a paraplegic boy named Jason. Could a boy who can’t walk or speak be the friend Catherine’s been looking for?
Most siblings will relate to Catherine’s mixed emotions about her brother—frustration, embarrassment, love, protectiveness, resentment, guilt. This book may even give them the words they need to describe how they feel. The book can be eye-opening for parents as well as they work to balance the energy they give to their special needs children with the needs of their “normal” children. The book’s resolution is hopeful but realistic. Rules is a very special book.