I love finding great books that can teach inference to autistic kids. The books need to share a simple story in prose (rhyming texts are great for language learning but are harder to follow) with clear, bold illustrations to visually support the story. Here are a few new books I discovered that have been great for my work with kids on the high end of the autism spectrum:
Holly’s Red Boots by Francessa Chessa: Holly and her cat, Jasper, peer out the window at the snowfall and decide to make a snowman. The problem is that Holly is in her slippers and has no idea where her boots are. Taking off on her search, Holly finds a number of items that are red that could protect her feet and convince Mom that she could wear her slippers–oops maybe not! A red car, a red Mexican hat with a big brim, or red bathrobe might keep the snow off her feet (How?) but she still needs to find her boots. With the slow paced story and simple surprises on each page, this book also lends itself to practicing prediction.
Not Inside This House by Kevin Lewis and illustrated by David Ercolini is a favorite among the kids I work with. A little boy named Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse isn’t into mainstream toys but would rather drag home specimens from nature. The story opens with his collection of bugs around the floor and his mother’s admonition to get them out of this house! He complies but returns each time with a larger animal (again an opportunity to teach prediction) as he moves from a mouse and hog to a moose and elephant. The illustrations are magnificent for description and talking about inference. Turn to the page where the moose is lodging in Livingstone’s bedroom. What happened to the wall? The lamp? Why is he making a tent? Spend time on the spread when he brings the whale home. Compare the inside of the house at the beginning of the book to that picture and name the changes (floating plants etc.) How did he get the water in there? Kids have to scan the picture and be able to explain what he did. The best compliment was when I had been using this book to teach language concepts to a 6 year-old and when I came to his house the next week, he had his own copy that he’s gotten at their school book fair.