Books & Movies

Books and film can be a wonderful way for siblings – both children and adults alike – to feel less alone in their experiences. They can also be helpful for family, friends and service providers to better understand life through the eyes of a sibling.

Here, you’ll find both fiction and non-fiction recommendations for every age range.

Is there a book or movie you love that isn’t on our list? We’d love to know about it – please get in touch at info@siblingsaustralia.org.au, or via our Contact page.

When I’m Feeling Sad by Trace Moroney, 2005, The Five Mile Press. Have you ever been so sad that the world seems grey and droopy? Does being sick or hearing a family argument make you want to cry and cry until it floods? The little rabbit knows how it feels to be sad and just what to do to feel better. Read along, and you too might find that a great big hug is all you need to make the sadness go away.

When I’m Feeling Jealous by Trace Moroney, 2007, The Five Mile Press. Feeling jealous can sometimes make you do silly things. But always remember that everyone is special, including you.

When I’m Feeling Lonely by Trace Moroney, 2019, The Five Mile Press. Lots of things can make you feel Lonely. It’s not a nice feeling, but just remember that everyone feels that way sometimes.

The Huge Bag of Worries by Virginia Ironside, 1996, Hatchette Children’s Books. The usually happy Jenny has started to have lots of worries until they grow into a huge bag of worries that follow her everywhere. They are there when she goes swimming, when she is watching TV, and even when she is in the lavatory. Jenny decides they will have to go.

What About Me: A Story for the Siblings of Sick Children by George Vlamakis, 2004, Michelle Anderson Publishing. This is a heart-warming story about Jamie, who is initially confused, resentful, jealous and sad when his sister Susie has to go to hospital and his mother spends a lot of time there with her. He acts up to attempt to get his parents attention, other times withdrawing into silence. Through the love and understanding of his parents he is eventually able to realise he is much loved and appreciated. 

Andy and his Yellow Frisbee by Mary Thompson, 1996, Woodbine House. Like many children with autism, Andy has a fascination with objects in motion. Rosie, his watchful and protective sister, supplies a sibling’s perspective on Andy and autism.

Arnie and the New Kid by Nancy Carlson, 1992, Puffin Books. Top cat Arnie teases Philip because he uses a wheelchair. Yet when Arnie falls down the school steps and breaks a leg, twists a wrist, and sprains a tail, he begins to see life from a different perspective.

Autism Through a Sister’s Eyes: A Young Girl’s View of Her Brother’s Autism by Eve Band and Emily Hecht, 2001, Future Horizons Incorporated. When young people have questions about a brother or sister with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, clear answers can be hard to find. Written by Eve Band, PhD, a clinical psychologist, this book gives voice to ten-year-old Emily’s story: her questions about her brother, her search for answers about autism, and her exploration of her feelings as a sibling of a young man with autism.

Ben, King of the River by David Gifaldi, 2001, Albert Whitman & Co. Chad experiences a range of emotions when he goes camping with his parents and his five-year-old brother Ben who has developmental delay. 

Ian’s Walk: A Story About Autism by Laurie Lears, 1998, Albert Whitman & Company. Julie can’t wait to go to the park and feed the ducks with her big sister. Her little brother, Ian, who has autism, wants to go too. Ian doesn’t have the same reactions to all the sights and sounds that his sisters have.

Living with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs: A Book for Sibs by Donald J. Meyer and Patricia F. Vadasy, 1996, Uni of Washington Press. What caused my sibling’s disability? Could my own child have a disability as well? What will happen to my brother or sister if my parents die? Written for young readers, the book discusses specific disabilities in easy to understand terms.

My Brother, Matthew by Mary Thompson, 1992, Woodbine House USA. This book offers a sibling’s point of view of the ups and downs of life when his brother is born with a disability. 

Rolling Along with Goldilocks & the Three Bears by Cindy Meyers, 1999, Woodbine House. This story unfolds with many of the familiar scenes of the classic tale, and ends on a hopeful note. Here, baby bear uses a wheelchair, goes to physical therapy, and ultimately makes friends with Goldilocks.

The Best Worst Brother by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, 2005, Woodbine House. This endearing and realistic picture book looks at how a relationship evolves between a typically developing older sister and her younger brother with a developmental delay. It also shows how sign language can help a child who acquires speech more slowly. 

We’ll Paint the Octopus Red  by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen, 1998, Woodbine House. Six-year-old Emma has big dreams for her new baby brother. But when she learns that he has Down syndrome, she is not so sure. This is a reassuring story for young children as well as parents adjusting to Down syndrome.

What About Me? When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick by Alan Peterkin, 1992, Magination Press. What about me? This question lies at the heart of this poignant story, as a young girl attempts to cope with her brother being ill. This story deals with the many complicated feelings that the sibling experiences in such a situation.

Your Emotions: I Feel Angry by Brian Moses, 1993, Hatchette Children’s Books. A book that describes what it is like to feel angry, as it is experienced by young children.

Your Emotions: I Feel Jealous by Brian Moses, 1994, Hachette Children’s Group. Young children experience many confusing emotions in their early years and ‘I feel Jealous’ looks at the emotion jealousy, in a light-hearted but ultimately reassuring way.

Your Feelings: It’s Not Fair by Brian Moses, 1998, Hachette Children’s Group. Young children experience many confusing emotions in their early years and ‘It’s Not Fair’ looks at the situations where children feel they have been treated unfairly, in a light-hearted but ultimately reassuring way.

The Way I Feel by Janan Cain, 2005, Parenting Press, U.S. Praised by parents, who say it’s especially valuable when getting children to talk about the day’s triumphs and troubles, and by professionals, who use it in paediatric clinics to support children who may have a developmental delay or may be emotionally stressed.

The Thing About Oliver by Deborah Kelly, 2019, Wombat Books. Eleven-year-old Tilly dreams of becoming a marine scientist, but she doesn’t even own a swimsuit. She lives in a drought-stricken town with her mum and younger brother Oliver who is autistic. Oliver’s meltdowns are making life unbearable. He needs so many different kinds of therapy that there’s never any time – or money – left over for swimming lessons. Tilly knows Oliver’s needs have to come first, but it’s hard feeling invisible all the time.

Little Big Sister by Amy McCoy, 2016. Meet nine year old Katie, the little sister who feels like a big sister. Her eleven year old brother, Mikey, has autism. Katie can ride a two-wheeler, but Mikey’s bike has training wheels. When a new student with special needs joins Katie’s class, she notices that some kids just don’t ‘get it’ about autism and other disabilities. Discover how Katie, along with her friends Lauren and Bella, are determined to make a difference at their school.

Dolphin’s Dance by Jutta Goetze, 2007, Walker Books Australia. Max is Ali’s brother with autism. He’s coming to Ali’s school this year, and Ali’s life is about to change. All she wants is to be a typical kid, but that’s not easy with Max around. Ali can’t even go to the beach and swim with the dolphins, because going anywhere new with Max, is almost impossible.

Oh, Brother! Growing up with a Special Needs Sibling by Natalie Hale, 2004, American Psychological Association. Living with a brother or sister who has a disability can be difficult for a child to deal with, day after day. This book provides anecdotal examples, self-help guidelines and practical coping techniques to promote positive, realistic attitudes.

Sara Webb: Disaster Area by Liz Wilks, 2006, Hachette Australia. Sara has difficulty coping with the eccentric behaviour of her two older siblings, who have disabilities. She doesn’t have a partner for the school social and the playground bullies tease her about her brother and sister’s differences. Her school friends try to help her solve her problems and she focuses on her love of sport but in the end it has to be up to Sara to make decisions and act.

Special Brothers and Sisters edited by Annette Hames and Monica McCaffery, 2005, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. A collection of real-life accounts from the brothers and sisters, aged from 3 to 18 years, of children with a disability in the UK.

The Sibling Slam Book: What It’s Really Like to Have a Brother or Sister with Special Needs by Don Meyer, 2005, Woodbine House Inc. Give teenagers a chance to say what’s on their minds, and you might be surprised by what you hear. That’s exactly what Don Meyer, creator of Sibshops and author of Views from Our Shoes did when he invited together a group of 80 teenagers, from all over the USA and abroad, to talk about what it’s like to have a brother or sister with disability. Their unedited words are found in this book, a brutally honest, non-PC look at the lives, experiences, and opinions of siblings without disabilities

Tru Confessions by Janet Tashjian, 2007, Square Fish. Twelve-year-old Tru wants two things more than anything else – to find a cure for her twin brother, Eddie, who has a developmental delay, and to create her own television show. Written in the form of a computer diary by the sassy heroine, this refreshingly humorous novel sensitively portrays the struggles and triumphs of living with a brother or sister with a disability.

Views from our Shoes: Growing Up with a Brother or Sister with Special Needs edited by Don Meyer, 1997, Woodbine House. A collection of real-life accounts from the brothers and sisters, aged from 4 to 18 years, of children with a disability in the US.

Are You Alone on Purpose? By Nancy Werlin, 2007, Speak. Alison Shandling is very clever, her twin brother, Adam, is autistic. All of her life, Alison’s parents have focused on Adam and what he needs, while Alison has always felt she had to be perfect.

Red Sky in the Morning by Elizabeth Laird, 2016, Pan MacMillan. Twelve-year-old Anna is looking forward to the birth of her baby brother. Ben arrives and he has a disability. Anna loves him with her whole heart, but she finds herself unable to admit the truth of Ben’s condition to her school friends.

Wonder  by R J Palacio, 2012, Alfred A. Knopf. August ‘Auggie’ Pullman is a home-schooled fifth-grader who has a genetic condition, called Treacher Collins syndrome, which has left his face disfigured. Auggie has a sister, Olivia ‘Via’ Pullman, who is older and often puts her brother’s needs first.

Rules by Cynthia Lord, 2006, Scholastic Paperbacks. Twelve-year-old Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules in order to head off David’s embarrassing behaviours. But this summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behaviour that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris, 2004, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. High school senior Theo has a brother Jeremy who is deaf, as are his parents. Theo plays an extensive role in supporting his family members, but with the help of a new friend Ivy and some of her friends, Theo is finally able to find time to plan for his future.

Siblings: Brothers and Sisters of Children with Disability by Kate Strohm (revised edition) 2014 Wakefield Press Australia. This book is based on the author’s own experience as a sibling and on extensive interviews she conducted with brothers and sisters of a child with a disability of all ages. It provides insight, practical advice and support.

Special Siblings: Growing up with someone with a disability by Mary McHugh, revised edition 2003, Paul H Brookes Publishing, Baltimore. In this absorbing and candid book, Mary McHugh reveals what she experienced as the sister of a man with cerebral palsy and mental disability – and shares what others have learned about being a sibling.

What about me? Growing up with a developmentally disabled sibling by B Siegel & S Silverstein, 1994, Perseus, Cambridge MA. Although not every family with a developmentally disabled child has challenges as a result, the information offered in this book is intended for those who feel their experience has in some ways been impacted by having a disabled sibling.

My Sister’s Keeper: Learning to cope with a sibling’s mental illness by M Moorman, revised edition 2002, WW Norton & Co, New York. When Margaret Moorman’s older sister, Sally, was first hospitalized with schizophrenia in 1959, her family denied the truth to neighbours, friends and even themselves. Not until thirty years later, when their mother’s death made her Sally’s sole caretaker, did Margaret face the truth.

Thicker than Water: Essays by Adult Siblings of People with Disabilities, edited by Don Meyer, 2009, Woodbine House, USA. In this thought-provoking essay collection, thirty-nine adult siblings reflect on how their lives have been indelibly shaped by their relationship with a brother or sister with special needs.

Riding the bus with my sister: a true life journey by Rachel Simon, 2002, Hodder Headline Australia. Rachel Simon’s sister Beth is a spirited woman who lives intensely and often joyfully. Beth, who has an intellectual disability, spends her days riding the buses in her city. One day, Beth asks Rachel to accompany her on the buses for any entire year.

How to be a sister: A love story with a twist of autism by Eileen Garvin, 2010, The Experiment. A deeply felt, impeccably written memoir, How to be a Sister will speak to siblings, parents, friends, and teachers of people with autism – and to anyone who sometimes struggles to connect with someone different.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, 2013, Hodder & Stoughton. Jodi Picoult examines what it means to be a good parent, a good sister, a good person. Is it morally correct to do whatever it takes to save a child’s life, even if it means infringing upon the rights of another?

Sibling Survival Guide: Indispensable Information for Brothers & Sisters of Adults with Disabilities by Don Meyer, Emily Holl, 2014, Woodbine House Inc, U.S.A. If you’re a teenage or adult brother or sister of someone with a disability, then this book is for you. It offers a sense that you’re not alone, tips on how to talk to your parents about plans for your sibling, and a crash course in guardianship, medical and legal issues, and governments benefits if you’re already caring for a sib.

Siblings: Brothers and Sisters of Children with Disability by Kate Strohm (revised edition) 2014 Wakefield Press Australia. This book is based on the author’s own experience as a sibling and on extensive interviews she conducted with brothers and sisters of a child with a disability of all ages. It provides insight, practical advice and support.

Siblings of Children with Autism: A Guide for Families  by Sandra Harris, (revised edition) 2012, Woodbine House USA. This revised edition takes a fresh look at what it’s like to grow up as the brother or sister of a child with autism – the basics of sibling relationships at all ages and how autism can affect these dynamics.

Safe and Secure: Six Steps to Creating a Good Life for People with Disabilities by Al Etmanski with Jack Collins & Vickie Cammack (revised edition) 2008, Working Design. This revised edition is based on the shared experiences of families who have a common desire – a good life for their family members with disabilities, now and in the future.

Making peace with Autism: One family’s story of struggle, discovery and unexpected gifts by Susan Senator 2005 Penguin Random House Canada. Receiving a diagnosis of autism is a major crises for parents and families, who often feel as if their world has come to an end. In this insightful narrative, a courageous and inspiring mother explains why a diagnosis of autism doesn’t have to shatter a family’s dreams of happiness.

Facing the Crowd: Managing other people’s insensitivities to your disabled child by Deborah Fullwood & Peter Cronin 1997, Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind. This book provides helpful resources for parents of a disabled child as to what to do or say when other people are either knowingly or unknowingly insensitive to them and their situation.

A Different Kind of Perfect: Writings by Parents on Raising a Child with Special Needs by Cindy Dowling, 2012, Shambhala Publications Inc. Every parent dreams of having a happy, healthy child. What happens when these dreams are shattered by a physical or cognitive disability?

Brothers and Sisters of Disabled Children by Peter Burke, 2003, Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Examining the overlooked subject of siblings in families where there is a child with a disability, ‘Brothers and Sisters of Disabled Children’ details the experiences of these children and explores what it means to them to have a brother or sister with a disability.

What About Me? Growing up with a Developmentally Disabled Sibling by Bryna Siegel and Stuart Silverstein, 2001, Ingram Publisher Services US. A compassionate and accessible guide on living with and caring for a child with a disability.

The Black Balloon (2008) All Thomas wants is a normal adolescence but his autistic brother, Charlie, thwarts his every opportunity. Will Thomas, with the help of his girlfriend, Jackie, accept his brother?

The Other Sister (1999) A mentally challenged young woman seeks independence by obtaining her own apartment and attending college while her family plans her sister’s wedding.

Love Actually (2003) This is a story that follows the lives of several characters as they deal with their love lives in various loosely interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. One of the characters has a brother with mental illness.

Riding the Bus with My Sister (2005) A woman spends time with her developmentally disabled sister after the death of their father.

Wonder (2017) This movie tells the heartwarming story of August Pullman, a boy with facial differences who enters the fifth grade, attending a mainstream elementary school for the first time.

My Sister’s Keeper (2002) Christine has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and must rely on others for support even though she longs for an independent and ordinary life. When her mother dies, her sister Judy becomes responsible for her care.