Russell’s World

Russell's World9781433809767_p0_v1_s260x420Russell’s World:  A Story for Kids About Autism

Charles A. Amenta, III, M.D.,  Author

Monika Pollak, Illustrator

Magination Press:  Non-fiction, 2011

Suitable for Ages:  5 – 10

Themes:  Autism Spectrum, Sibling Relationships, Family Support, Differences

Opening“Russell is a kid with special differences.  He has autism.  This means his behaviors can be surprising in three big ways.  He likes to be alone…He can’t talk…He doesn’t play the way other kids do.”

Synopsis:  Russell is nine years old and has a form of autism which makes it hard for him to talk and learn.  He hums, babbles, giggles and screams.  He has two younger brothers, Benjamin and Gregory, who love Russell and play with him when he’s willing.  They also know when they need to leave Russell alone.  When his brothers have friends over, Russell leaves the room.  Benjamin and Gregory are important in helping Russell copy things they do through repetition.    Russell attends school where he learns sign language, manners and playing with other children.  But, there are times that Russell puts his relationship with his brothers to the test when he breaks their toys or throws tantrums during the night.  Unlike many children with autism, Russell, loves hugs and tickles.   He is happy boy with brothers who support him.

Why I like this book:  This story is a heart warming look into a family living with a child with autism.  It is written by Russell’s father, a doctor, who uses very simple language to help children understand autism.  The story is told through a collage of photographs of Russell and his brothers accompanied by colorful illustrations that create a background.  Very clever.   Throughout the story Dr. Amenta shares a situation, and then helps kids understand Russell’s response.  He’s also quick to point out that even though Russell may be nonverbal, other kids with autism do talk, have an easier time learning and have special talents.   He explains to kids that autism affects each child differently.  I feel that parents of an autistic child would find this book  useful in helping siblings understand the differences.

Since the book was first published in 1992, Russell and his brothers are now adults.  Russell runs a small envelope stuffing business and has a deep love of music.  Benjamin is a pianist and Gregory is a mathematician/physicist and percussionist.  Music is a very strong bond for this family.

Resources:  There is extensive back matter in the book for parents.  In using the book with children, ask them what is alike and what is different in Russell’s world compared to their own.  Siblings of kids with autism may see both similarities and differences between Russell and their brother/sister.

This book has been provided to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of the work.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book.  To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

29 thoughts on “Russell’s World

  1. This is a wonderful book to help kids understand autism. I love that Russell’s younger brothers seem to know when and when not to involve him. It is true that the younger children are exposed and understand, the easier they adapt, and cope. A great choice, Pat and thanks for sharing.


    • Barbara, I’m glad you enjoyed the review. I liked that this book was a non-fiction PB. No, I haven’t read Leah’s Voice. I’ve reviewed so many of the PBs on the subject, so am open to titles other’s find.


  2. How nice to read a true story on the subject and what wonderful careers they all ended up with. Thanks for sharing, Pat.


    • Catherine, I was happy to review a non-fiction book based on a doctor’s own experiences with his autistic son. And, I was so happy that Russell has his own business and leading a productive life. The transition into adulthood is important for kids with autism.


  3. Non fiction like this is useful for adults and children alike. Every story is different, but still, reading about an autistic sibling and his family will be helpful to many children. I am so glad you gave us an update 21 years later, Pat, on how the sibs are doing.


  4. Pat,
    Beautiful job as always with this review. Thank you for sharing. The illustrations sound intriguing. I also enjoyed finding out what the brothers are doing now.


    • Janie, I was pleased they showed a picture of the family and gave an update about the grown brothers. My interest tends to lean towards, “how are ASD kids going to transition into adulthood.” And, this story shows that at the end. The father needs to write another book.


  5. It is great that we know how this family has fared. Following the story through is so important and sends out such a positive message of hope to those learning about autism. Thanks, as always, for sharing.


  6. That cover is spectacular! And the book sounds wonderful! I spend a lot of time with autistic individuals and I find them quite fascinating. At the schools that I go to, kids are mostly quite comfortable with the special needs kids that join their classes, but this book looks like it would be a good one to add to my library and share with them. Thanks for sharing!


  7. One family in our life has two children, one autistic, and the relationship between the two siblings is absolutely wonderful. Having a resource like this to help siblings understand and navigate their lives together is terrific. Thanks for sharing it!


    • Thanks Craig. I’m glad you liked the choice. I’m glad the children you know have a strong relationship. I would like to see more resources for siblings. And, more stories written by siblings.


  8. Pat, this is a truly important book! It shows how the family was such an important anchor for this special child…and I love that we know the young man has joy in his life and a strong bond with his brothers. 🙂


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