Alt="Blue Background, text on the left says, 'How to use Picture Books for ADHD in the Classroom.' To the right of that is a drawing of a stack of books with an apple on top."

Embracing and understanding neurodiversity is essential to the success of building empathy.  Building empathy through picture books for ADHD in the classroom is a powerful evidence based strategy

The storylines and character in picture books help the whole class develop a deeper appreciation for differences in the way their classmates work.

With relatable stories and a teacher who works with the children to build the bridge between the character who is “other” and themselves, students can grasp the perspectives and experiences of their peers with ADHD.

 By using picture books for building classroom community teachers can contribute to a compassionate and inclusive learning environment.

Inclusive strategies for ADHD in the classroom cultivate a sense of acceptance and support for students with ADHD and promotes a culture of empathy among, and for, all learners.

Alt="Blue background with an image of 7 children reading books. Text reads, 'How to use Picture Books for ADHD in the Classroom'"
Pictures books are a strong, evidence based strategy for developing empathy in children. What better way than picture books for ADHD in the classroom to create support and understanding for your students with ADHD?

Recommended Picture Books

To effectively nurture empathy and an inclusive learning environment, picture books for ADHD in the classroom need characters with ADHD that are depicted in relatable and positive ways.

Following are the authors, titles and summaries of a few recommended books.

“My Brother Charlie” by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete 

The book “My Brother Charlie” by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete is a heartfelt picture book, It explores the experiences of a young girl named Callie and her twin brother, Charlie, who has autism. 

Although “My Brother Charlie” specifically addresses autism, it shares themes and insights that can resonate with neurodiversity, including ADHD.

Narrated from Callie’s perspective, the story celebrates Charlie’s unique qualities and highlights the importance of understanding and accepting differences.

“My Brother Charlie” portrays the challenges and joys of growing up with a sibling who has distinctive needs. It  emphasizes empathy, compassion, and the bond of love between siblings.

Although “My Brother Charlie” primarily focuses on autism, it can also serve as a valuable conversation starter about neurodiversity in general, including ADHD. 

It may also be a little less “on the nose” than a book on ADHD. 

The narrative encourages children to appreciate and embrace the differences in their peers, promoting a sense of inclusivity and understanding. 

The book beautifully captures the essence of unconditional love and acceptance within the context of neurodivergent experiences.

I especially loved listening to it read by the author, Holly Robinson Peete, on Youtube.

Alt="Green background with leaf motifs in the corner, and two children reading books, one on either side of the caption, 'Great books for teaching your class about ADHD!'. Followed by book names: My Brother Charlie by Holly Robinson Peete and Ryan Elizabeth Peete, All Dogs Have ADHD" by Kathy Hoopmann, Hank Zipper series by Henry Winkler, Taking ADHD to School by Lauren Moynihan, Ellie Bean the Drama Queen by Jennie Harding." All of these are recommended as picture books for ADHD in the classroom."
Any of these pictures books for ADHD in the classroom will support conversation and nurture empathy amongst your students.

“All Dogs Have ADHD”

“All Dogs Have ADHD” by Kathy Hoopmann  is a charming and insightful picture book.

It uses the characteristics of dogs to shed light on the experiences of students with ADHD in classroom. 

The book draws playfully upon parallels between the energetic, curious, and sometimes distractible behavior of dogs. It also takes the traits associated with ADHD student behavior using pictures of dogs to make the traits more acceptable. 

The engaging illustrations, and simple  engaging text, highlight the various ADHD student behaviors. Behaviours such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty with focus. Using animals as a catalyst for developing empathy has been found to be effective.

Teachers can use discussion to Introduce children to the idea of ADHD through this and all picture books for ADHD in the classroom. The books becomes a valuable tool for creating an ADHD inclusive classroom  in a lighthearted and non-stigmatizing manner.

As Dr. Hallowell, a leader in diagnosing and understanding individuals with ADHD will tell you, ADHD, once diagnosed and supported, can be a blessing for everyone.

I love that  “All Dogs Have ADHD” uses humor and a love of animals to help students. They learn to see that neurodiversity is a natural and wonderful part of human variation.

Picture books for ADHD in the classroom and student empathy

These books use storytelling for ADHD. In this way they provide understanding and insight into the experiences of students with ADHD in classroom. They also promote understanding and acceptance among peers. 

Use the books as tools for initiating conversations about ADHD in classrooms. 

Using picture books for building classroom community is a recognized and valued instructional strategy for teaching social emotional learning (SEL) skills like empathy. 

Adding the practice of using storytelling for ADHD understanding is just the natural, next step.

Picture books for ADHD in the classroom contributes to building empathy, breaking down stigmas, and creating a supportive atmosphere where children can embrace differences and celebrate neurodiversity.

These are profound inclusion strategies for ADHD students and others in your classroom.

Alt=" Green background with the heading, "5 Reasons to Use Books for ADHD in the classroom". Below that is a map of the reasons to use picture books in the classroom to support students with ADHD. In the centre of the map is a cartoon image of an open book. The spokes from the center of the map have 5 captions, 1)Integrate well with all areas of the curriculum.,2) Book discussions build classroom community., 3) Books help students to make connections with the world and self. , 4) Sensitive and tactful tool for educating students about the other., 5) Provide opportunities to develop social emotional skills."
Choosing to read pictures books for ADHD in the classroom is effective for many curricular outcome. Plus you will be developing classroom community, and empathy for peers and the “other”. Win-win!!

Incorporating picture books for ADHD in the classroom

Books serve as powerful tools to educate, enlighten, and foster empathy.

In the context of picture books for ADHD in the classroom, incorporating books that feature diverse characters, share personal experiences, or provide informative content about ADHD can be instrumental. 

The books above recommended for storytelling for ADHD understanding educate students about ADHD but also promote understanding, empathy, and a sense of community within the classroom for all of the students.

Integrating literature into all areas of the curriculum, enables you to:

  • open up discussions
  • enhance awareness
  • contribute to a supportive atmosphere
  • deepen SEL in your students. 

We know that teaching students SEL is not a one and done, and that students need opportunities to practice. So weaving picture books for ADHD in the classroom provides that opportunity outside of regular SEL instruction.

Alt="Background image is of a floor to the ceiling image a bookshelf with a boy in front of the bookshelf reading.  Over the image the text reads, 'Building bridges with storytelling for  ADHD: understanding is just  the natural, next step'" to support the idea to use picture books for ADHD in the classroom"
Building bridges through instruction that uses picture books for ADHD and nurturing discussion leads to understanding of why students with ADHD are atypical. By nurturing acceptance, your student with ADHD will, hopefully, build friendships. This addresses one of the big challenges students with ADHD face.

Why do read aloud sessions with interactive discussions?

Picture books for ADHD in the classroom are really just picture books for building classroom community.  

They support your goal of building a learning environment where differences are celebrated, and every student feels acknowledged and valued. 

Building classroom community makes everyone’s life, and your classroom management, easier.

Interactive discussions, artistic projects, creative writing prompts, posters or even role-playing activities. Have students create a project that relates to the characters or situations presented in the books.

In this way you can broaden a students perspective on the student with ADHD in the classroom which leads to a stronger, safer, more inclusive classroom community. 

Picture books for ADHD in the classroom support all of your students

These strategies for supporting students with ADHD also provide:

  • creative outlets for your students
  • develop oral language
  • writing and presenting experience.

And these  activities further contribute to a dynamic and inclusive learning environment for everyone.

Its a ripple effect!  A tsuanmi of effective learning even. 🤩

By including picture books for ADHD in the classroom you are empoweriing your students to showcase their strengths, deepen their empathy, and creative inclusive classroom for their peers.

Related blog posts:

How to include Social Emotional Learning Activities All Day Long

How to Build Transformed Classroom Communities in 3 Easy Steps

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