The Best Books for Autistic Children & Neurodiverse Kids

Inside: Finding books for autistic children and neurodiverse kids is not always easy, especially when you are looking for stories that are engaging, meaningful, and not entirely didactic. I’ve recently discovered some new fantastic books, and I’ve compiled a list of stories new and old I think you and your kids will love!

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The Power of Passion & Persistence: JUST LIKE RUBE GOLDBERG, by Sarah Aronson!

JUST LIKE RUBE GOLDBERG: THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINES, by Sarah Aronson and illustrated by Robert Neubecker, is a fabulous new book about the power of following your dreams, even when others try to steer you astray. Check it out!.

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Best Books for 7 Year Olds That Will Make Your Second Grader Giddy!

If you are looking for the best books for 7 year olds, you have come to the right place! This curated list of easy chapter books is outstanding, and we absolutely love these chapter books series for 2nd graders! You’ve come to the right spot to get your kids hooked on reading!

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THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE: A Book About Jealousy Your Kids Need Now!

Looking for a beautiful, resonant book to talk about jealousy with your children? THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE, by David Litchfield, is the story for you!

*This post contains affiliate links!

The Bear, The Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle, by David Litchfield


Jealousy is a tough burden to bear.

Whether it’s jealousy of a sibling, a classmate, or even a best friend, it’s one of those emotions that can eat us alive (even us adults!) and cause major unease and anxiety. In children, jealousy can be all consuming and utterly difficult to understand. Imagine being a kid again, one who feels green with envy over something her very best friend has or gets to take part in. It is a confusing feeling with complexities even the most emotionally intelligent kids grapple with.

Thus, when a book comes along that helps a child understand jealousy, and that book is filled with gorgeous, atmospheric artwork and beloved characters to boot, I’m all about it.

Who remembers David Litchfield’s THE BEAR AND THE PIANO from a couple of years ago?

THE BEAR AND THE PIANO was published when Happily Ever Elephants was first getting started, and it was one of those books I fell hard for because of the way it spoke of following dreams but always remembering that home is where the heart is. It was tender, resonant and perfect, and it continues to remain a favorite of ours.

And now, Litchfield has brought us a wonderful companion book, THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE, and we love it too!!

In THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE, a dog and his human have a mutual adoration — playing the fiddle! Hugo the dog loves listening to Hector play the fiddle, so when Hector decides to retire, Hugo secretly teaches himself to play this fine instrument. And guess what? Hugo has skills. So much so, that the famous piano playing Bear invites Hugo to play in his traveling animal band on stages all over the world.

Hugo is thrilled. Hector? Not so much.

After all, Hugo is going to live the dream that Hector always had for himself — but Hector’s dream never came to fruition. Will Hector be able to sideline his envy and cheer on Hugo’s success? Or is the friendship between Hector and his beloved Hugo doomed for good?

Friendship. Fighting. Forgiveness: Why THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE is so important to read with children!

I love seeing these themes conveyed in a picture book and, even more so, I love when books don’t necessarily show an outright apology but instead convey how friends forgive one another for things both said and unsaid through their meaningful actions. Words, after all, can sometimes be empty, or even said disingenuously. And that is not the message we want to give to our children.

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG AND THE FIDDLE expresses that true friends will naturally have conflict. Our words can sting one another. We can be thrilled for our friends’ achievements, but also totally and completely envious of those achievements at the same time. These feelings are real and authentic, but perhaps most importantly, they are universal.

Yet, despite their commonality, feelings of envy are not easy to sit with. And we need to talk with our children about them.

THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE gives us a fabulous “in” — an excellent starting point to communicate about these unsettling emotions. Questions such as “have you ever wished you had something your friend has?”, “how did you feel when your friend got the part in the show you wanted?”, or “do you feel happy for your friend, but also kind of angry?” are perfect conversation starters, and they are totally organic and natural after reading this beautiful story. This is one of those meaningful books you won’t necessarily realize you needed until you are sitting and having these important discussions with your kids — and then you will be so grateful that THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE was in front of you to help spark these significant discussions.

Two trunks up for both THE BEAR AND THE PIANO and THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG AND THE FIDDLE, a dynamic duo that should have a home on every child’s bookshelf!

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The Bear, The Piano, The Dog and The Fiddle by David Litchfield, the perfect book to read when you need to talk to your children about jealousy!.jpg

Want the book? Get it here! THE BEAR, THE PIANO, THE DOG, AND THE FIDDLE, by David Litchfield. *HEE received an copy of this book from the publisher, but all opinions expressed herein are entirely our own.

UP FOR AIR, by Laurie Morrison: A New Favorite Upper Middle Grade Read!

If you are looking for a fabulous book for middle schoolers, look no further because I have your new favorite right here! UP FOR AIR, written by Laurie Morrison, is the perfect book for this challenging age, and your kids are guaranteed to love it.

Books for Middle School Girls, Up for Air by Laurie Morrison

Great books for middle school girls can be tricky. UP FOR AIR is a new favorite.

There’s a challenging spot in children’s literature that parallels that challenging period of time kids face when they are right on the cusp of becoming teenagers: those awkward, upper middle grade years, when kids are a just a little too young for high school stories, yet a little too old for the standard middle grade book with characters in fifth or sixth grade.

It’s a fine, precarious line, and it is often a struggle to find books for these readers that are both challenging and relevant as well as age appropriate.

Sure, most kids this age would probably jump at the chance to read a meaty young adult novel— but many parents aren’t yet comfortable with that. Topics like partying and drinking and sex and drugs are just a bit too mature for many of our children at this impressionable age.

Thus, I was beyond thrilled to read UP FOR AIR, a fabulous new upper middle grade story by the phenomenal up and coming author, Laurie Morrison.

UP FOR AIR tackles this tender age brilliantly!

In UP FOR AIR, thirteen year old Annabelle finds herself struggling academically at the end of seventh grade. Yet when she dives into the water, her swimming skills earn her an A+. In fact, Annabelle is the fastest girl on her middle school swim team, and due to her speed and talent, she is asked to join the high school team over the summer.

This is when Annabelle’s world changes tremendously.

Annabelle makes new, older friends, and her newly developed body attracts the attention of one very handsome high school boy. She wants to fit in with these older kids desperately, but after a prank she’s a part of goes disastrously wrong, the boy drops her like a hot potato, and an injury sidelines her from the pool. Who is Annabelle without swimming, and how will she figure out where she belongs?

UP FOR AIR hooked me from the very first page.

When I tell you I raced through this novel at lightning speed, I’m not at all exaggerating.

Annabelle’s story felt authentic at every turn, and I absolutely loved the way Morrison handled that precarious time between childhood innocence and the chaos — and turmoil — of teenage years.

In UP FOR AIR, Annabelle was enthralled by the older kids, sometimes shunning her old friends because of the magnetic hold the high schoolers held over her. Her story perfectly illuminated first crushes and those intimate moments you imagine that sometimes feel so real, you kind of forget you are making them up.

Yet, UP FOR AIR also recognizes the trepidation that comes with standing on the precarious cusp between middle school and high school, and it does so brilliantly.

It authentically captures that rush of confusing new feelings, the ones that both excite and scare you, like going to a party that simultaneously thrills and intimidates, and crushes that make you feel alive and terrified all at the same time.

UP FOR AIR is a book I wish i had when I was on the verge of becoming a teenager. It’s one that will speak to so many young people, one that will help them realize they aren’t alone in their feelings.

UP FOR AIR captures innocence and longing, the conflicting notions of discovery and safety, and wanting to be treated like an “adult” but wanting to stay protected as well.

This is a perfect segue for those of you with tweens and early teens, a perfect book for sixth and seventh graders, and even those of you with mature fifth graders at home. Your kids will devour UP FOR AIR, and I can’t wait to get this into the hands of my graduating and former students. A total gem!

Want the book? Click here! UP FOR AIR by Laurie Morrison. HEE received an advanced copy of this book for review, but all opinions contained herein are expressly our own.


Books for Advanced Readers to Delight Your 2nd & 3rd Graders!

Books for advanced readers — especially advanced second graders — are tough to find. But here at Happily Ever Elephants, we’ve curated a list of amazing chapter books that your second grade, high level readers will devour. Check them out!

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