When we were babies, I snuggled and giggled with Mommy.
But Charlie was different. He wouldn't play with me.
As we grew older, Mommy discovered that Charlie's brain works in a special way,
because Charlie has autism.
Today is the World Autism Awareness Day, and to honor those affected by this very challenging disorder, I am reviewing the picture book My Brother Charlie, co-written by actress Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter Ryan Elizabeth Peete. My Brother Charlie tells the story of a brother and sister, one with autism and one without, and addresses the heartache that can accompany being the sibling of a child suffering from autism.
Callie loves her brother Charlie very much, but sometimes it's hard dealing with his quirks, such as when he doesn't want to play with others, or giggle. As with most autistic children, words come sparingly to Charlie, but Callie tells how autistic children are still able to show love and affection through eye contact or a simple touch. And while it can be difficult and very frustrating at times, Callie explains that having an autistic brother isn't always bad. Like most children, Charlie has special gifts, including the ability to connect well with animals and an exceptional memory - he can recite the names of all the American presidents!
What makes My Brother Charlie such a wonderful book is it's lessons of love and tolerance, and how it encourages children to appreciate and understand the differences in others. It is a great resource for any adult who wants to explain what autism is to young children. As the aunt of a 6 year-old nephew with autism, I really appreciate the warmth and honesty of this book. If you are a neighbor, teacher, parent or sibling who has been looking for a way to explain autism to a little one, you can't go wrong with My Brother Charlie.
Written by: Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth
Illustrated by: Shane W. Evans