My Brother Charlie

My Brother Charlie

by Holly Robinson Peete, Ryan Elizabeth Peete


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"Charlie has autism. His brain works in a special way. It's harder for him to make friends. Or show his true feelings. Or stay safe." But as his big sister tells us, for everything that Charlie can't do well, there are plenty more things that he's good at. He knows the names of all the American presidents. He knows stuff about airplanes. And he can even play the piano better than anyone he knows.

Actress and national autism spokesperson Holly Robinson Peete collaborates with her daughter on this book based on Holly's 10-year-old son, who has autism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780545094665
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date: 03/01/2010
Pages: 40
Sales rank: 122,935
Product dimensions: 8.92(w) x 11.24(h) x 0.35(d)
Lexile: AD540L (what's this?)
Age Range: 4 - 8 Years

About the Author

Twins Ryan Elizabeth Peete and Rodney Peete wrote this book with their mother, Holly Robinson Peete, to help share awareness about autism with other children who have been touched by it in some way. Ryan and Rodney travel with their mom, speaking to teens about their experiences growing up together. The Peetes live in Beverly Hills, California.

Read an Excerpt

We’ve always been together—even in mommy’s tummy, my twin brother, Charlie and I.

We still share lots of things:

Curly hair and brown eyes.

How much we love hot chocolate with marshmallows.

Rolling in the grass.


When Autism Strikes Home: It's a Family Affair

By Holly Robinson Peete

I experienced the elation every mother feels when she holds her newborns for the first time. When my twins were born, it was a double blessing — two beautiful children, a boy and a girl, both as sweet as their butterscotch cheeks.

RJ, my oldest son, was born two minutes before his sister, Ryan. Like many twins, mine were close from the very beginning. It was as if they had a language all their own. Even as infants, they seemed to understand each other's impulses and desires. When RJ cried, Ryan cried too. When Ryan wanted milk, so did RJ. When something happened to cause one of them giggle or gurgle, the other one giggled and gurgled along.

When RJ and Ryan began to talk, the beauty of language swept them up into the joys of making words and expressing themselves to me and to each other. While many parents can't wait to hear their children say "Mama" or "Da-da," RJ's very first word was "cow." Delighted with himself, RJ turned this into a singsong: "Cow, cow, cow!"

Ryan would join in, and the two of them were a chorus of "cow, cow, cow!" It didn't matter to me and my husband, Rodney, that our twins were talking about a farm animal before they were calling out to us. What was most important — and wonderful to witness — was that RJ and Ryan were both very talkative toddlers who were hitting their developmental milestones right on time.

Then, one day, when the twins were just two years old, all the chatty fun ended very abruptly. It seemed as if a plug had been pulled on RJ's joyous ability to speak and giggle with his sister. Ryan's development continued typically. She pointed at stars in the sky, birds, and high-flying planes. But RJ had changed. He'd become withdrawn, sullen, and distant. He was locked up in a place I couldn't reach, though I tried to rouse him by calling his name loudly when I wanted to get his attention. I took to screaming, mostly out of feeling helpless.

"RJ, RJ, RJ!" I would call.

After taking RJ to a series of specialists, we got the diagnosis that RJ had autism. It was the year 2000. RJ and Ryan had turned three. The medical community defines autism as a neurobiological disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued some startling statistics on the disorder: 1 in 110 children in the United States has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

When I learned of these statistics, I asked myself why my child had to be "the one." My husband and I were angry and confused and felt powerless to help RJ. This was underscored by members of the medical community and our social circle who didn't fully understand autism and its effects.

I will always remember what Rodney and I have come to call the "never" day. After enduring a battery of tests for RJ, we sat with a specialist who told us our son would never speak to us like a "normal" child, that he would never engage in real conversation with us or Ryan, and that he would never say "I love you" without being prompted.

Well — I have never experienced such pessimism from a doctor! When we met with her, it was a chilly afternoon (made even colder by the woman's icy office and less-than-warm bedside manner).

Some time after that meeting, Rodney and I made a decision — we would never allow someone to rob us of hope of a meaningful life for RJ and never, ever give up on finding the best treatments for him. Thankfully, soon after that awful day, we were blessed with a team of caring professionals who have rallied around our family and RJ. We call these men and women "Team RJ" and have taken to chanting, "Go, Team RJ!"

At age thirteen, RJ has grown into one of the loveliest and most charming kids! He's intelligent, playful, thoughtful, and funny. He's an ace swimmer and can play the piano and guitar with passion and verve. Adolescence has brought with it some new hurdles, but our boy has checked so many of those nevers off of his list.

Like any siblings, RJ and Ryan have had their challenging times, but the two of them are as close as ever. And they're back to talk, talk, talking — and sharing that special connection that twins have. We have two younger sons, Robinson, age six, and Roman, age eight, and two dogs, Harriet and Freddie. So we're a busy and boisterous family.

When Ryan and RJ were in the fourth grade, Ryan discovered that other kids and their parents had very little knowledge about autism and its affects on individuals and families. Ryan was constantly sticking up for RJ at school, and I found myself frequently fielding questions from other parents who just didn't know any better. For example, one mom worried that autism was contagious, so would refuse to invite RJ to playdates!

This is when Ryan came to Rodney and me, and showed us a wonderful program she'd developed on her own, called "Ryan's Autism 101" — a checklist of very practical advice and facts about autism that Ryan shared with our family, then invited Rodney and me to present to her classmates. We now offer "Ryan's Autism 101" to families struggling with a new diagnosis of autism and to those who have no autism in their immediate families but who have friends or schoolmates affected by autism. These ideas are outlined in the children's book I coauthored with my daughter, entitled My Brother Charlie. There is also helpful information in a book for fathers by my husband, Rodney Peete, entitled Not My Boy: A Father, a Son, and One Family's Journey with Autism.

Here are some ideas we have found most helpful.

• Social connection can be challenging for people with autism. If someone who has autism doesn't respond or make eye contact right away when you speak to them, it doesn't mean they're being rude. Often they don't like to be touched. Don't take it personally. Help them by being extra kind. Go the distance. Don't give up on your chance to make a friend.

• Many have trouble making friends, but it's even harder for those with autism. Include people with autism even more than you would others. If you give them time, you'll discover that they're just human beings with real feelings. And, like every human being, they want to be included even if they cannot verbally express it.

• We are all special in our own ways. Rather than point out what someone doesn't do well, focus on what they do well. Explore and praise the strengths, and acknowledge that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

• People with autism can be exceptionally smart, but their brains are wired differently. It can take them longer to process information. Please be extra patient.

• If you see a child struggling or having a tantrum in a public place, such as a supermarket or airport, don't judge. Often that child is not being "naughty" but might have autism. Offer a smile or support to a mom or dad who could really use it!

• For more information, contact the HollyRod Foundation, an organization to help children with autism gain access to affordable treatments and therapies. HollyRod Foundation, 9250 Wilshire Blvd., Suite LL15, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Remember, a person may have autism, but autism doesn't have them.

Actress, Author, and Advocate Holly Robinson Peete has devoted her life and career to the service of others. She is a board member of Autism Speaks, and travels internationally to advocate on behalf of autism causes. She has worked tirelessly to help families everywhere who are raising children with autism. Ms. Peete is the wife of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete, and the working mother of four children. Inspired by the journey of her dad's struggle with Parkinson's disease, and by her son's autism, Ms. Peete and her husband founded the HollyRod Foundation, dedicated to providing compassionate care to those suffering with debilitating life circumstances like Parkinson's disease and autism. She is currently a cohost of CBS's The Talk, the new hit daytime talk show with an emphasis on motherhood.

Customer Reviews

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My Brother Charlie 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story would be very helpful for any family with a child who has autism. Holly Robinson Peete and her daughter, Ryan Peete have created an inspirational story for families with children of all ages. In making the story relatable to any age range, the reader is able to better understand what life is like when living with a brother, sister, son, or daughter who has autism. Very inspirational for any family member having a hard time understanding what is happening with their child, grandchild, sibling, etc. Autism speaks, it's time to listen. If you have a child who has autism, remember this: Your child may have autism, but autism does not have your child.
michelleraphael on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Brother Charlie is an excellent book to introduce autism at a young age. Charlie is normal is so many ways, he just has a few different ways for doing things. But the best part of the book is the bond that him and his sister share.
ebruno on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Callie describes her relationship with her twin brother, Charlie, who has autism. She loves her brother very much but struggles with his condition. Everything is more difficult then it has to be, and the doctor said he will never be able to say, "I love you." Callie learns that love can be shown through actions and not just words.
C.Martinez on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My Brother Charlie is a touching story about a girl that has a brother with autism. The book talks about her hardships and struggles but knows that underneath it all her brother truly loves her. The story shows that just because someone might have some struggles they are still a person and stilling capable of love.
mountie9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jake's Review: Mom this book reminds me of me and how I have Spina Bifida. Lots of people treat me differently because I am a little different than them and they don't understand me. (Sorry, my tears are blurring the screen) Sometimes people are really mean to me like kids treat the boy in the book. He is just like Chad at school who has autism and I like playing with him. You just have to play with him a little differently and keep away from him when he is in one of his moods. I would be Charlie's friend if he went to my school, I like kids that are different like me - they don't treat me like I am weird. I liked how you could almost feel the pictures, like in those touch and feel baby books of Jesse's (Jake, dude, those BABY books, used to be yours) The pictures are drawn kinda weird though.Rating: 9/10Mom's Review: This book had a very personal response from me, since my child has "special needs" as well. I cannot tell you how many times we are treated differently and ignorantly because people don't understand. Some of the things that have been said to Jake or to our family are just plain rude. I try to use these situations to educate those about spina bifida, but I cannot tell you how many times I just want to smack people because of their ignorance. (Just so you know, I never have, but have been tempted -- even to friends and family who haven't thought before they have said something)Now back to the book. This is a beautiful, sensitive and simple explanation of Autism written by Holly Robinson Peete (Yup you old timers Officer Judy Hoffs from 21 Jump street) and her daughter Ryan. Ryan's twin brother R.J. has Autism and wanted to help the world understand her brother and those other families/friends who are living with Autism. I loved how they explained that the little boy Charlie loves them, but his words to express this just get locked up inside him. It is the most wonderfully true and thoughtful explanation of the struggle that autistic children deal with. It also did an exceptional job of explaining the struggles that siblings have to deal with when their brother/sister has Autism. It also explains how frustrating it is for Charlie that he has autism, and how he wishes he didn't have it either. Many books deal with how the families cope, but don't usually mention how frustrating it is for the person that is autistic. I loved the line about how Charlie has Autism, but Autism doesn't have Charlie. The fact that this book is told through the voice of the twin sister makes it more realistic and heartfelt. Information card at the back is fantastic as it tells other kids that autistic children are just as much fun to play with, if you give them a chance.Review: 10/10
ElizaJane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Reason for Reading: My 9yo is autistic.Comments: Actress Holly Robinson Peete writes this picture book along with her twelve-year-old daughter, Ryan, who is the fraternal twin of a brother with autism. The story mirrors their real life and is told from the point of view of a little girl whose brother, Charlie, is autistic. She describes how they are alike in looks and likes, then how they are different in looks and likes with the major difference being that Charlie can get very quiet and sometimes not talk. She then goes on to explain how her parents found out Charlie was autistic and what it is like to have an autistic brother accentuating how he is like everyone else, but there are times for her when it is difficult to have Charlie as a brother and other times when she wishes she could help him be more like her. But then there are unique things about Charlie that make him who he is, like his special way with animals and his shell collection.The book does a very good job on an elementary level of describing an autistic child, showing that though they may be very quiet at times or sit and play by themselves they are not different than other children. They have things they love to do and want to play and have fun. They just need time for both. This book will help others relate to the autistic child whether they be the parent, relative or friend by getting an inside glimpse into the daily life of said child. Most of all the book celebrates family, togetherness and the many ways to say "I love you" without always using the words. The book is well written bringing acceptance and dignity showing this condition is not an illness but only a way of being.The artwork must be mentioned. Shane W. Evans has created big, bright bold paintings that are pure joy to look at. The primary colours are used effectively. I love the facial expressions and the shape of the eyes make unique characters. The painting is textured, the brush strokes can be seen in the background and I love how he shows the curly hair on some characters by filling in the area with spirals.My Brother Charlie will be greatly enjoyed by families with an autistic sibling and should be shared in elementary classrooms to bring awareness and acceptance of autistic children they meet on the playground and away from school.
lcisabell on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story about a boy named Charlie who has Autisim. The story is told by his twin sister Callie who shares with readers what it is like living with someone who has Autisim. The story provides insight about those who have Autism and the effect it has on them and their family. Can be used in a classroom, to bring awarness, help students understand being different is ok, The book demonstrates love, family, kindness and understanding. Can help teach young students about empathy. Can be included in a unit about family, Great as a read aloud for younger students, and can be used in grades pre-k and up.
nnicolic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
having fun. Charlie is like any ...moreThe children¿s book My Brother Charlie is a lesson in love. It is beautifully written and illustrated and its message will almost make you cry. At the same time, it will uplift you for its message is the power of life. It is an instant classic, in my humble opinion.
emleonard on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Such an awesome story about a set of twins named Callie and Charlie and Charlie has autism. Callie tells the reader how it is living with a sibling that has a disability. This is a very good book to read to young children so they can be aware of children with disability and how they are able to still do some of the same things as others just in a different way.
ecosborne on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is from the point of view of a girl whose twin brother has autism and the way she deals with it. She explains that she and her mom noticed that he was different. She explains how Charlie sees things differently. This book is quite good because it brings awareness to a disability and would be great for children to read who have a family member with a disability.
Kcarline143 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a little girl who deals with her brother having Autism.
lakertraw on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about a set of twins, Callie and Charlie. Charlie has autism. His sister tells what is is like living with someone who has autism. This is an excellent book, a very easy read, and I would recomment reading it to teach about autism and that despite disabilitiies children are capable of still doing some of the same things as their peers.
smorales on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
THIS BOOK IS SO GOOD! I love the relationship that is displayed of the sister and her brother who has autism. This book explains autism is an easy way for children to understand and I feel that every child should read this book. Children need to be aware of children with disabilities and this book does that in a great way.
Kathdavis54 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Charlie is different from other kids, even his twin sister. She describes how it is like living with a brother with autism. This book would be helpful for children who are different or who have siblings they may not understand. The pictures are bright and lovely, but there could be a bit more to the story.
Elizabeth1977 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A little girl discusses the journey of her brother's diagnosis with autism, his progress, and her acceptance of his differences.
theCajunLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Although a bit wordy at times, My Brother Charlie, is an eye-opening account of how autism can affect relationships. Readers are left with the message that love may not always be simple, but it can be shown in many ways.
mrcmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Callie describes life with her autistic twin brother Charlie, which isn't always easy but for which she is also grateful. A sweet story of acceptance and diversity enhanced by quality illustrations.
Booklady123 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for everyone, even if you do not have an autistic child or do not work with autistic children. Robinson and her daughter Ryan have created a simple, honest and heartwarming narrative about what it is like to have an autistic sibling. Though the book is geared to helping children understand, my experience tells me that there are a number of adults who should read this book as well. The story is told by Callie who explains what autism is and how her family cares for her brother Charlie. She is frank and open about the challenges as well as the special way she feels for Charlie. ¿I¿ve learned from Charlie that love doesn¿t always come from what you say. It can also come from what you do¿ and ¿there are days when it¿s hard to be Charlie¿s sister. . . Sometimes he can ruin the best playdates; other times he won¿t speak¿ paint a clear picture of what it is like to live with someone who has autism. The story is told with an endearing childlike honesty and frankness. A concluding note at the end of the book offers more information about the Peete family¿s experience as well as additional information on autism. This is book is an excellent resource for introducing the subject of autism to young children or starting a discussion on how to deal with a disability.Recommended for Kindergarten and up.Mrs. Archer¿s rating: 5 of 5!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My son's doctor read this book to my daughter in an attempt to help her understand and deal with her brother's diagnosis. She seemed to warm to it, so I ordered it, and now she and her other brother choose it often as a bedtime story! It is almost harshly honest at certain points, but from a sibling's point of view I find it refreshing and helpful. Sometimes, my kids get tired of being nice and just need to say, "this stinks". The book then turns around and gives all of the positives. Very good at pointing out that different doesn't mean less wonderful. However, if you're dealing with any sort of non-verbal or limited verbal autism, be prepared to cry at some point. I have been very happy that I ordered it. Definitely recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a lovely picture book with a story that shows the disappointments and joys of having a sibling who is autistic. Children with autistic siblings will easily relate to the story. Children without much knowledge about autism will get an easy to understand introduction to autism. Great for classroom use, too!
samiam11 More than 1 year ago
Our Grandson was just diaganosed with being on the spectrum of Autism. Because it was caught so early , in the last 6 months, a boy who was not speaking at all and has had alot of therapy is excelling in hundreds of way. This book is a story of hope and understanding of Autism and how it can affect the siblings in the family. WE were going thru 10 weeks of training on how to handle different situations with our Grandson. I let the teacher read this book during a break and she welled up with tears. I gave the book to our Grandson's older sister. She understands that he has this, but not exactly what its all about or How it may make him different. We hope the book will help her to understand better how he may be different. We loved the book
rtweto More than 1 year ago
This book was informative and helped me to better understand autism and how it affects siblings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago