Talking About ADHD

10 Book Characters Who Make Us Smile

“Who knows, he may grow up to be President someday…unless they hang him first!” From Tom Sawyer to Willy Wonka, these classic and contemporary fictional characters will help kids and parents alike celebrate their own ADHD-fueled creativity, intelligence, and spunk. The literary world would certainly be boring without them.

Black and white image of someone reading a book with fictional characters who have ADHD
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ADHD Across the Pages

"Books are a uniquely portable magic." —Stephen King

The greatest supernatural power of books is, arguably, their unmatched ability to transport us to foreign worlds where we find a character who is, in little important ways, a little like ourselves. In that character we may recognize our own restless spirit, our own people-pleasing tendencies, or our own fear of failure. And from them we learn new ways forward and new perspectives that remind us of our own greatness. Here are some of our favorite fictional characters from books with ADHD themes and role models we hold dear.

Tom Saywer is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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1. Tom Sawyer

School isn't the thing for energetic Tom Sawyer of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He's easily bored by the monotony of sitting still in the classroom and at church. He'd rather be running outdoors, swimming, or rafting down the river to burn off his excess hyperactive energy.

For impulsively skipping class, his punishment is white-washing a fence — a job he ingeniously tricks other boys into doing for him. He's mischievous and always cracking jokes to win over classmates. Branded the class-clown, he falls prey to low self-esteem and often feels forsaken and friendless. Tom bends the truth often, but has a heart of gold. Sound familiar?

Buy The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Amelia Bedelia is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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2. Amelia Bedelia

Amelia Bedelia, from the series by Peggy Parish, takes everything literally; the nuances of social conversations escape her, which is both amusing and uncomfortably familiar. When her employer tells her to "dress the chicken," she puts it in a tiny set of overalls. When he asks if the letters are "stamped," she throws them on the ground and stomps on them.

Yet, despite her mishaps, she wins over everyone with her persistence and goodwill. And, once her employer realizes the special way her mind works, the family writes instructions in ways she can understand. Every person with ADHD should be so lucky to have family and friends who support their unique way of thinking.

Buy Amelia Bedelia.

[Free Resource: The All-Time Best Books on ADHD]

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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3. Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes, of the series by Conan Doyle, is the original brilliant-yet-scattered professor. He has trouble remembering appointments, but solve perplexing crimes with a special brand of hyperfocus that many of us recognize.

In conversations, he's often sidetracked by the tiny details that neurotypical people skim over. Playing the violin helps him think; music hones his focus. His apartment is a perennial mess of unfinished projects. When life slows down, he becomes morose and depressed until the next fast-paced adventure emerges.

Buy Sherlock Holmes.

The Cat in the Hat is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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4. The Cat in the Hat

The Cat in the Hat, the main character of the eponymous Dr. Seuss book, skips from one activity to the next, risking life and upended fishbowls for entertainment. First he juggles, then he flies kites – inside! – then it's on to playing with mother's dress. One activity can't keep his attention; nor can one thing – that's why he brought Thing 1 and Thing 2! He delights in chaos and mess. His main goal is to create fun and avoid seriousness at all costs. He arrives with a bump, and enjoys all of his impulses without a hint of guilt. No wonder we envy him in a way.

Buy The Cat in the Hat.

Calvin is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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5. Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin, the star of Bill Watterson's comic series Calvin and Hobbes, is an adventurous, mischievous six-year-old who daydream his way into school detentions and punishments. But when teachers try to put him down, Calvin slips in the perfect witty remark to display his true high IQ. He may be impulsive and unfocused, but he has unparalleled creativity and imagination. I mean, who else would think to create the "Snowman House of Horror?" Pure brilliance.

Buy The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.

Mr. Willy Wonka is a fictional character with ADHD
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6. Willy Wonka

Mr. Willy Wonka, of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is notoriously reclusive, but has decided to open his doors to five lucky contest winners. A series of adventures ensue as the kids and their families explore his candy inventions.

He's a quick thinker with a sharp tongue who is easily bored. He has natural leadership skills, but prefers to go off and do his own thing. A little eccentric, he won't dull his personality to fit into society's mold. Plus, he loves the dopamine rush of an everlasting gobstopper.

Buy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

[Turn the Page: Read These 10 Books About ADHD]

Violet Baudelaire is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics like creativity and thinking outside the box
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7. Violet Baudelaire

Violet Baudelaire, from Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events series is a natural inventor like Thomas Edison —  who many believe had ADHD. When she needs to scale Count Olaf's tower, she creates a grappling hook. When she needs to escape, she fashions a ladder from rubber bands.

Many of us with ADHD are known for thinking outside the box and for our unbounded creativity. Violet ties up her hair in a ribbon, and uses her hyperfocus to start thinking until the problem is solved. Her ingenious solutions remind us that thinking different is a rare and precious talent.

Buy A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willow is a fictional character with common ADHD characteristics
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8. Mr. Toad

Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame, bounces from one interest to the next, leaving no hobby un-tried. He learns to house boat, then race cars, and quickly gets bored and moves on. He's a lovable rogue, and his friends recognize that sometimes he just needs a little care and understanding. They help get him out of trouble and back on the right track.

Buy The Wind in the Willows.

Luna Lovegood is a fictional character from the Harry Potter series with ADHD characteristics
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9. Luna Lovegood

Luna Lovegood, from J.K. Rowling's beloved Harry Potter series, is a dreamy example of inattentive ADHD. Even when captured by members of the Inquisitorial Squad, she stares out the window, distracted. Because of her spacey demeanor and blunt honesty, she sometimes has trouble making friends. When teased, Luna's temper can flare.

Yet, because she's true to herself — and loyal to companions — Harry, Ron, and Hermione eventually became very fond of her, quirks and all.

Buy Harry Potter.

The White Rabbit is a fictional character with ADHD characteristics such as poor time management
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10. The White Rabbit

"I'm late! I'm late! For a very important date!" Any one of us can empathize with that feeling of being perpetually behind schedule, like the white rabbit of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter and March Hare find that his watch is two days slow. He lives his life in a constant panic, too stressed by the demands of the Queen of Hearts to stop and organize his life. He's harried, but we can't help but empathize with him and cheer him on.

Buy Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

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  1. The most blatant example of a fictional character on the ADHD spectrum is a very well known and very popular character indeed. He is impulsive, quick to anger, he is obsessed (with food among other things) , he is forgetful, and distractible .His imagination kicks in and takes him away offen in mid conversation ! His name is Homer Simpson . There are so many examples , especially in the first 9 seasons of The Simpsons where Homer exemplifies the ADHD spectrum. His son Bart has the garden variety version of ADD , but his symptoms will probably get worse as an adult.(Daniel Amen says the disorder runs in families, it’s actually genetic). Lisa and Marge Simpson obviously don’t have it , they are there to provide some contrast.Homer does have a job, but he is incompetent at it.He’s got a beautiful heart as a Father. Bart is bright and inventive and full of ideas. There was one episode where he was taking a drug for ADD called “Focusin”. if you watch the first 9 seasons of the show with your knowledge of ADHD in mind, you’ll notice Homer and Bart are not stupid, the characters only seem like buffoons on the surface . Watch the early versions of the Simpsons (from the 90’s) and you’ll realise that Homer is textbook ADHD more so than any other fictional character on the list above!

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