My Sister Emma by Gina Conger

Autism... also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD)... is a diagnosis consisting of a wide variety of symptoms and/or characteristics. There are four different types of autism that fall under the ASD umbrella, and no one person experiences it in the same way as someone else. General characteristics of autism may include challenges in verbal communication, repetitive movements, and difficulties with social skills. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, some people will be significantly impacted by it and require lifelong support, whereas others will be highly skilled and able to live independently with minimal or no assistance.

My Sister Emma by Gina Conger is about a little girl Emma who has autism. She does not 'suffer' from it... she has family and friends who love her and is able to live a full and happy life with the help of a few supports. What kind of supports does Emma use and how do they help her? Keep reading to find out!

Disclosure: Affiliate links to Amazon are included in this post.

Author's Summary

My Sister Emma is a project very close to my heart. I have worked with the disability community for many years and every sensory difference/ability detailed in this book reflects my experiences within the community. The story follows two siblings who take a trip to their neighborhood park. The siblings, Nathan and Emma, are twins. Emma has autism and spells on a board to communicate. My hopes for this book are to educate and raise awareness about presuming intelligence in those with disabilities, specifically autism, inspire inclusion at a young age, and, perhaps most importantly, give children with autism, especially those who point/spell to communicate, a character to relate to. Hopefully, this children's book will educate the next generation and truly impact the mainstream social perspective on those with disabilities/different abilities.

🍎 Title: My Sister Emma
🍎 Author: Gina Conger
🍎 Illustrator: Ash Jackson
🍎 Publisher: self-published
🍎 Date: July 19, 2020
🍎 Pages: 17

Before Reading My Sister Emma

My Sister Emma is a realistic fiction story that students can learn from. Gina Conger wrote this story in order to teach children about autism, the types of equipment some people with autism use, and some of the characteristics they may exhibit. Before reading My Sister Emma with your class, have a discussion about what your students think autism is. Some students will have no idea what autism is or know anything about it. Some may recognize the words autism or autistic but not know what they mean. Others with direct experience will be able to tell you all sorts of information about it. And... of course... there will be students who think they know what the words autism and autistic mean but use those words incorrectly. (Sadly, there is a part of the population who use the word autistic as an insult to call someone dumb or stupid. None of which is OK!) Use this time before reading My Sister Emma to clear up some misconceptions and untruths.

Reading My Sister Emma

Even though My Sister Emma is a short book and relatively easy to read, I'd suggest reading it to your students once or twice before having them read it independently. This may be a simple story, but it is NOT simplistic! As you read and discuss My Sister Emma, focus the conversation on the following topics:

🍎 Emma has autism. What does that look like for her?
🍎 What are some of the challenges Emma has to deal with?
🍎 What are some of the things Emma does well?
🍎 What kind of equipment does Emma use? Why does she use it?
🍎 What is stimming?
🍎 Emma has difficulty communicating verbally. Does this mean she lacks intelligence? How does she show her intelligence?
🍎 How does Emma communicate her knowledge to others?
🍎 How do Emma's family and friends treat her?
🍎 What can we learn from Emma's example?

After Reading My Sister Emma

After reading My Sister Emma, take a few minutes to review your students' new knowledge and to clear up any lingering misconceptions or untruths. One easy way to do this is to simply ask, "What did we learn from My Sister Emma and from our class discussion?" and record the students' responses on an anchor chart. Your anchor chart can be as detailed as you'd like it to be. 


  1. Wow. Kelly I’m truly honored and humbled by this post. It is so thorough, detailed and truly grasped the overall concept I was going for. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I’m blown away by this review!! The lesson that you created to go along with this is also amazing! What I would do to sit in on a class that did this lesson! I would probably be bawling in the back corner!! ❤️ Again, thank you so much! I will forward people this review and activity!

    1. Hi Gina! I'm so glad you like the post I wrote about your book! Your book will help children learn more about autism and be more accepting of people who have it. <3