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Adriana Lebrón White

Adriana Lebrón White is an autistic librarian, former special education teacher, and children’s book writer. After being diagnosed with autism and anxiety in her 30s, Adriana now advocates for more inclusive schools and libraries. Her writing on neurodiversity and mental health in children’s books has appeared in KQED’s MindShift and We Need Diverse Books, and she advises educators and librarians about the importance of these books through workshops and presentations. Adriana has a Master’s in Education with a specialization in Special Education, and a Master’s in Library and Information Science with a certificate in Storytelling. She is a staff editor for the website A Novel Mind, and she was a 2021 recipient of the Walter Grant from We Need Diverse Books. Adriana is an active member of SCBWI and a 2021 PBChat mentee.

More About Me

Encyclopedias & Picture Books
Me (looking off-camera) and two of my three sisters.

I have always loved reading, but in my younger years, I reached for encyclopedias as often as picture books.

My family owned a set of 1987 Childcraft encyclopedias that came with an extra volume on dinosaurs – one of my favorite topics. I would read each one, cover to cover, and when I reached the end of the set, I started all over again.

Eventually, my taste in reading expanded to include more traditional formats, like comic books and novels. Picture books, however, hold a special place in my heart.

Everyone loves the Pigeon!

As a special education teacher, I would read a lot of picture books.

I noticed how the specific elements of picture books – rhyme, repetition, predictability – all resonated with my students. My autistic students were especially interested in reading, and would return to their favorite picture books again and again. And like me, they also loved reading reference materials, from toy catalogs to picture dictionaries and more.

Over time – as I read the same books over and over again with my students, recited lists of dinosaur species with them, and learned more about how autism presents differently in girls – I began to wonder if I might also be autistic. A formal diagnosis came a few years later.

Screencap from my Texas Library Association presentation on neurodiverse books.

Since my autism diagnosis, I’ve been a vocal supporter of children’s books about autism, neurodiversity, disability, and mental health.

Looking back, I now realize that stories were how I first learned to socialize. They taught me the ins and outs of conversation, and showed me how neurotypical kids usually acted with one another. They were a window into a world that was slightly different than my own.

As an Air Force kid whose family moved every two years, reading also helped me to feel less alone. Now, as an autistic adult, reading books by autistic authors leaves me with a unique feeling that I rarely had in my youth. It feels like coming home. Like finding a place to belong, after years of wandering.

As a writer, I hope that my stories can give that same feeling to readers of all ages and neurotypes.

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