The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin

Book review by
Angela Zimmerman, Common Sense Media
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin Book Poster Image
Upbeat rhymes tell amazing tale of scientist with autism.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids will learn about autism and development differences and how they're  manifest in everyday activities and can shape a person's life. Kids also learn a bit about animal science and farm conditions, as well as how nurturing a person's passion and interests can help lead them to create great things. 

Positive Messages

Even if you have a difficult childhood and adolescence dealing with social, educational, and development issues, you can grow up to accomplish great things. If you face your challenges and learn to overcome obstacles, you can make the world a better place. Follow your passion and find out what your special gifts and talents are, and you can use those talents to make a difference. Dream big! 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Temple Grandin show kids it's possible to overcome adversity by honoring your passions and nurturing your intellect.

Violence & Scariness

As a young child, Temple threw a book at another student and was kicked out of school. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is in the Amazing Scientists Book Series created by author Julia Finley Mosca and illustrator Daniel Rieley that celebrates female scientists throughout history. The Girl Who Thought in Pictures is a bright, uplifting account, told in upbeat verse, of revered animal scientist Dr. Temple Grandin. Grandin has autism, and her early life was fraught with difficulty as she faced severe developmental social, educational, and emotional challenges. With the support of family and a few loyal teachers, Grandin was able to overcome many obstacles and nurture a love of science. She revolutionized the care and treatment of animals in farms across the country, and today she is a leading researcher and lecturer on animal science and contributes to the autism community as an advocate and spokesperson.

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What's the story?

THE GIRL WHO THOUGHT IN PICTURES: THE STORY OF DR. TEMPLE GRANDIN explores the life of an esteemed animal scientist whose early life was fraught with difficulty. As a young Boston child diagnosed with autism, she was easily overstimulated and couldn't relate to other kids or daily challenges. She didn't speak a word until she was 3 years old, but she was able to visualize thoughts and feelings through her ability to think "in pictures." Other kids were mean to her because she was "different," and she ended up getting kicked out of school for throwing a book at another student. Life wasn't easy -- until her mother sent her to live with family on a ranch out West. There she discovered she had an innate ability to connect with animals and understood their behavior in a way no one else could. For the first time in her life, she was encouraged by her talent and unique mind, and she conceived of new ways of working with livestock. She ultimately was able to harness her unique gifts, and today is a leading researcher and lecturer on animal science.

Is it any good?

Told in playful rhymes and with whimsical cartoon-like illustrations, this is a wonderful account of an inspiring woman. It offers a relatively candid look at what it can be like to live with autism and can help kids empathize with those who have learning and developmental difficulties. A note at the end of the book from Dr. Grandin herself is a great addition, reminding kids that The Girl Who Thought in Pictures is about a revered real-life scientist.

A handy section in the back titled "Fun Facts and Tidbits From the Author's Chat With Temple" breaks down some of her notable accomplishments and anecdotes in paragraph-length bites. One describes the 2010 HBO movie about her life staring Claire Danes. The illustrated timeline with photographs, as well as an "About D. Temple Grandin" section that details her story in more depth, help older readers and adults gain a deeper understanding of her life. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Dr. Temple Grandin's early life as shown in The Girl Who Thought in Pictures. What kinds of challenges did she face as a child diagnosed with autism? 

  • What do you think it means that Grandin "thought in pictures"? How did that contribute to her ability to connect with animals on a deeper level than most other people? 

  • Do you know any kids or grown-ups whose brain works differently than yours? What can you do to connect with them? 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science and stories of kids on the autism spectrum

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