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Book Awards Feature Neurodivergent Main Characters

Book Awards Feature Neurodivergent Main Characters

In January, the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards, as well as the titles selected as honor books. The Awards recognize an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

In two of the three categories, the award-winning books feature an autistic main character. Henry, Like Always, written by Jenn Bailey and illustrated by Mika Song, won for the best young children’s title. As described in the press release, Henry starts to unravel when Share Time, which usually takes place on Fridays, changes to make way for a special parade. With the gentle and understanding support of his teachers and classmates, Henry works with the change to find his own way.

The award winner for best middle grades, The Fire, the Water, and Maudie McGinn, was written by Sally J Pla. Maudie loves spending summers with her dad in California. When a wildfire forces an evacuation, they move to a trailer on the beach. Burdened by secrets and her mother’s expectations, Maudie seeks affirmation by learning to surf. Her bravery broadens and transforms her sense of self-worth. ALA noted that “readers will ride the waves of Maudie’s emotional journey of self-acceptance and self-advocacy in this moving book.”

Among the honor books, two feature neurodivergent characters. Tilly in Technicolor, written by Mazey Eddings, won in the teen category. The novel tells the story of Tilly Twomley, who has ADHD and is desperate for change. She feels like she’s white-knuckling her way through high school as flawed executive functioning has left her burnt out. Things quickly change as she meets Oliver Clark, who is neurodivergent. As the duo’s neurodiverse connection grows, they learn that some of the best parts of life can’t be planned.

One of the middle grade honor winners, , is a novel-in-verse about Selah, who comes to understand and celebrate her difference. Selah navigates the challenges of day-to-day life as a person who faces the unique obstacles of neurodivergence. But as she soon starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn’t mean damaged.


Sherri Alms is the freelance editor of The OARacle, a role she took on in 2007. She has been a freelance writer and editor for more than 20 years.

The post Book Awards Feature Neurodivergent Main Characters first appeared on Organization for Autism Research.

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