Books to Help Prepare Kids for the Adoption of a Sibling

Best Books to Prepare Kids for the Adoption of a Sibling

    Kinda Like Brothers

    Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth (ages 8-12) – Eleven-year-old Jarrett’s fine with his mom taking care of foster babies, but not like this. The baby has an older brother named Kevon, who won’t stop acting all superior around Jarrett. To make matters worse, Jarrett has to share his room with him. As much as they dislike each other, the boys have to find a way to live in harmony. Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed. This is a good book for both children in foster care and children with foster siblings living at home.

    Bad Kitty Meets The Baby by Nick Bruel

    Bad Kitty Meets the Baby by Nick Bruel (ages 7-10) – Kitty’s owners bring home a big surprise one day—a baby! But Kitty doesn’t really know what a baby is for or what it’s supposed to do, and Kitty isn’t so sure about it. It plays, it stinks, it drools; Kitty is sure it’s a dog.  This chapter book is an excellent pick to help young readers learn about adding a new sibling to their family or for children to see that lots of people—and kitties—are adopted!

    WISE Up Powerbook

    W.I.S.E. Up! Powerbook (ages 6-16) – Created by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) in 2009, the W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook is designed to help adopted children and children in foster care learn how to confidently handle their story and answer questions from others on their own terms. The book presents realistic situations that adopted and foster kids are likely to encounter, and guides parents and kids through different approaches to answering. Organized around the acrostic W.I.S.E., kids learn that they can Walk away, reply that It’s private, choose to Share something, or Educate others. Great resource for older adopted kids, and much of the information would also be appropriate to help tweens and teens know how to handle the inevitable questions they may get about your upcoming adoption. It’s a good resource for the whole family to use together.

    I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss

    I’m a Big Sister or I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss (ages 2-6) – “Someone new is at our house!” Told through the eyes of a new older sister or brother, this simple story lays out all the good things about being an older sibling, and just how exciting welcoming a new member to the family can be. These aren’t adoption specific, but since they don’t cover the pregnancy and hospital part of becoming an older sibling, they can be used by adoptive families. There is also a section for parents.

    Wolfie the Bunny

    Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman (ages 4-6) – The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can–and might–eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. She soon learns, however, that adding to her family isn’t so bad, and having a sibling can even be kind of fun! This delightful picture book looks at adoption from the point of view of an older sibling, and is perfect to start the discussion about a newly adopted sibling. Its dry humor will make it a favorite of both kids and parents.

    Murphy's Three Homes

    Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman and Kathy O’Malley (ages 3-8) – This book tells the story of a puppy named Murphy who is moved from place to place until he ends up at a home where he is loved and cared for. It is written for foster children, but it could also be used to introduce siblings to the concept of foster care adoption.

    Bringing Asha Home

    Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami (ages 5-9) – All eight-year-old Arun wants is someone to share the holiday with, and his biggest wish is for a little sister. His wish may come true as his parents travel to India to adopt Asha and welcome the new baby girl into their family, but it takes a year for the adoption from India to be finalized. Despite the obstacles, Arun still finds ways to connect with his future sibling across the world. This book is perfect for young children anxiously awaiting new siblings as the family all experiences their adoption journey together. It’s a good way to talk about the adoption of a new sibling and explain how the process works. Features a bi-racial (Indian/white) family.

    Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert

    Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert (ages 3-7) – Tayja and Mia aren’t biologically related–Tayja is black, while Mia is white–but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real sisters. During a game of make-believe, Mia, who doesn’t quite understand pretending yet, suggests they pretend to be sisters. Tayja holds Mia’s face in her hands, the two touching foreheads, and states, “No, Mia—we don’t have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters.” Kiddos in adoptive families, whether they are adopted or biological, will always have to justify their family to outsiders. Inspired by a real conversation between Lambert’s daughters, Real Sisters Pretend is a good way to start that conversation, especially with younger children.

    Emma’s Yucky Brother by Jean Little

    Emma’s Yucky Brother by Jean Little (ages 5-10) – Emma has always wanted a little brother. Now her family is adopting Max, and Emma is sure he will be the best brother ever. But Max has his own ideas. He thinks sisters are yucky, and that Emma is the yuckiest! Is this really what having a brother is all about? Little gradually shows how both Max and Emma accept the new situation, all the while illustrating the difficult feelings experienced by all members of a family in the midst of the adoption transition. She works in quite a bit of information about the process, including mention of social-worker visits, transitional visits by the adoptee, and the purpose of foster families. Great for families adopting a toddler or older child to help prepare the older siblings. The family is adopting from the foster care system in the US, but this book could be adapted for a family adopting an older child internationally.

    A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery

    A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery (ages 3-6) – Today is a very unusual day! Caroline wakes up late, forgets her socks, and feels strange all the way to school. She tries to help her teacher, but everything is mixed up today and all Caroline manages to do is make a great big mess. Finally, the school day ends and Caroline rushes outside to greet her parents, who are having a rather extraordinary day themselves. In their arms, they hold Caroline’s new baby sister, who has just arrived from far away. A heartwarming adoption story from a new big sister’s perspective.

    The New Baby by Mercer Mayer

    The New Baby by Mercer Mayer (ages 3-7) – Little Critter is excited to learn that a new baby sister is coming to live with his family. But when the baby doesn’t pay any attention to him, Little Critter wonders what good a baby is. It’s not adoption specific, but it’s a good a good book to prepare your toddler or young preschooler for the adoption of a newborn.

    Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care

    Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections by Deborah N. Silverstein and Susan Livingston Smith – The sibling relationship is emotionally powerful and critically important, giving us a sense of continuity throughout life. So what happens when a child loses contact not only with his or her parents, but with siblings too? This book is a comprehensive resource on issues facing siblings during foster care or adoption. It is written for adults, but it is good to consult as you prepare your children for the adoption of a sibling, especially if you are adopting an older child.

    Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman

    Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman (ages 4-9) – On the eve of adopting a baby girl from Vietnam, a Jewish family reflects on their happy preparations for her arrival and their eagerness for her to become an addition to their family, as well as a blessed part of the Jewish people. Brothers Jacob and Gabriel raise the points that their new sister will be Vietnamese, Jewish and American all at the same time. It’s a good look at how to honor an adopted child’s birth culture while also including her in her new culture. “Now the baby had three names. She had a Vietnamese Name: Le Thi Hong. She had an English name: Rebecca Rose. And she had a Hebrew name: Rivka Shoshanah.”

    Don’t Call Me Marda by Sheila Kelly Welch

    Don’t Call Me Marda by Sheila Kelly Welch (ages 11+) – Sixth-grader Marsha is an only child. She’s thrilled about her parents’ plan to adopt a little sister, but when Wendy arrives, Marsha’s life is turned upside down. Wendy is developmentally delayed and acts much younger than eight. She has tantrums, messes with Marsha’s belongings, steals the affection of the family cat, and embarrasses Marsha everywhere they go. Why should Marsha agree to officially adopting Wendy and having her join their family forever? A poignant and realistic look at the often bumpy road of becoming a family.

    I’m a Big Sister by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss

    I’m a Big Sister or I’m a Big Brother by Joanna Cole and Maxie Chambliss (ages 2-6) – “Someone new is at our house!” Told through the eyes of a new older sister or brother, this simple story lays out all the good things about being an older sibling, and just how exciting welcoming a new member to the family can be. These aren’t adoption specific, but since they don’t cover the pregnancy and hospital part of becoming an older sibling, they can be used by adoptive families. There is also a section for parents.

    Wolfie the Bunny

    Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman (ages 4-6) – The Bunny family has adopted a wolf son, and daughter Dot is the only one who realizes Wolfie can–and might–eat them all up! Dot tries to get through to her parents, but they are too smitten to listen. She soon learns, however, that adding to her family isn’t so bad, and having a sibling can even be kind of fun! This delightful picture book looks at adoption from the point of view of an older sibling, and is perfect to start the discussion about a newly adopted sibling. Its dry humor will make it a favorite of both kids and parents.

    Murphy's Three Homes

    Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman and Kathy O’Malley (ages 3-7) – This book tells the story of a puppy named Murphy who is moved from place to place until he ends up at a home where he is loved and cared for. It is written for foster children, but it could also be used to introduce siblings to the concept of foster care adoption.

    Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert

    Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert (ages 3-7) – Tayja and Mia aren’t biologically related–Tayja is black, while Mia is white–but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real sisters. During a game of make-believe, Mia, who doesn’t quite understand pretending yet, suggests they pretend to be sisters. Tayja holds Mia’s face in her hands, the two touching foreheads, and states, “No, Mia—we don’t have to pretend that. We are sisters. Real sisters.” Kiddos in adoptive families, whether they are adopted or biological, will always have to justify their family to outsiders. Inspired by a real conversation between Lambert’s daughters, Real Sisters Pretend is a good way to start that conversation, especially with younger children.

    A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery

    A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery (ages 3-6) – Today is a very unusual day! Caroline wakes up late, forgets her socks, and feels strange all the way to school. She tries to help her teacher, but everything is mixed up today and all Caroline manages to do is make a great big mess. Finally, the school day ends and Caroline rushes outside to greet her parents, who are having a rather extraordinary day themselves. In their arms, they hold Caroline’s new baby sister, who has just arrived from far away. A heartwarming adoption story from a new big sister’s perspective.

    The New Baby by Mercer Mayer

    The New Baby by Mercer Mayer (ages 3-7) – Little Critter is excited to learn that a new baby sister is coming to live with his family. But when the baby doesn’t pay any attention to him, Little Critter wonders what good a baby is. It’s not adoption specific, but it’s a good a good book to prepare your toddler or young preschooler for the adoption of a newborn.

    Bringing Asha Home

    Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami (ages 5-9) – All eight-year-old Arun wants is someone to share the holiday with, and his biggest wish is for a little sister. His wish may come true as his parents travel to India to adopt Asha and welcome the new baby girl into their family, but it takes a year for the adoption from India to be finalized. Despite the obstacles, Arun still finds ways to connect with his future sibling across the world. This book is perfect for young children anxiously awaiting new siblings as the family all experiences their adoption journey together. It’s a good way to talk about the adoption of a new sibling and explain how the process works. Features a bi-racial (Indian/white) family.

    Emma’s Yucky Brother by Jean Little

    Emma’s Yucky Brother by Jean Little (ages 5-10) – Emma has always wanted a little brother. Now her family is adopting Max, and Emma is sure he will be the best brother ever. But Max has his own ideas. He thinks sisters are yucky, and that Emma is the yuckiest! Is this really what having a brother is all about? Little gradually shows how both Max and Emma accept the new situation, all the while illustrating the difficult feelings experienced by all members of a family in the midst of the adoption transition. She works in quite a bit of information about the process, including mention of social-worker visits, transitional visits by the adoptee, and the purpose of foster families. Great for families adopting a toddler or older child to help prepare the older siblings. The family is adopting from the foster care system in the US, but this book could be adapted for a family adopting an older child internationally.

    Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman

    Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Sugarman (ages 4-9) – On the eve of adopting a baby girl from Vietnam, a Jewish family reflects on their happy preparations for her arrival and their eagerness for her to become an addition to their family, as well as a blessed part of the Jewish people. Brothers Jacob and Gabriel raise the points that their new sister will be Vietnamese, Jewish and American all at the same time. It’s a good look at how to honor an adopted child’s birth culture while also including her in her new culture. “Now the baby had three names. She had a Vietnamese Name: Le Thi Hong. She had an English name: Rebecca Rose. And she had a Hebrew name: Rivka Shoshanah.”

    Kinda Like Brothers

    Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth (ages 8-12) – Eleven-year-old Jarrett’s fine with his mom taking care of foster babies, but not like this. The baby has an older brother named Kevon, who won’t stop acting all superior around Jarrett. To make matters worse, Jarrett has to share his room with him. As much as they dislike each other, the boys have to find a way to live in harmony. Booth offers candid insight into racism, poverty, and the foster care system without becoming heavy-handed. This is a good book for both children in foster care and children with foster siblings living at home.

    Bad Kitty Meets The Baby by Nick Bruel

    Bad Kitty Meets the Baby by Nick Bruel (ages 7-10) – Kitty’s owners bring home a big surprise one day—a baby! But Kitty doesn’t really know what a baby is for or what it’s supposed to do, and Kitty isn’t so sure about it. It plays, it stinks, it drools; Kitty is sure it’s a dog.  This chapter book is an excellent pick to help young readers learn about adding a new sibling to their family or for children to see that lots of people—and kitties—are adopted!

    Don’t Call Me Marda by Sheila Kelly Welch

    Don’t Call Me Marda by Sheila Kelly Welch (ages 11+) – Sixth-grader Marsha is an only child. She’s thrilled about her parents’ plan to adopt a little sister, but when Wendy arrives, Marsha’s life is turned upside down. Wendy is developmentally delayed and acts much younger than eight. She has tantrums, messes with Marsha’s belongings, steals the affection of the family cat, and embarrasses Marsha everywhere they go. Why should Marsha agree to officially adopting Wendy and having her join their family forever? A poignant and realistic look at the often bumpy road of becoming a family.

    Big Brother Binky

    Big Brother Binky (Arthur) is a fantastic DVD on international adoption. Arthur’s best friend, Binky, is about to become a big brother. His parents are adopting a baby from China. I just love this DVD, and yes, I know that a DVD is not a book, but it’s a fantastic and familiar way to introduce children to the idea of adoption, whether preparing them for the adoption of a sibling or to discuss their own adoption. Although Binky’s parents are adopting internationally, I think this DVD is a must for any family formed through adoption because it normalizes adoption as simply one way families are formed.

    WISE Up Powerbook

    W.I.S.E. Up! Powerbook (ages 6-16) – Created by the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) in 2009, the W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook is designed to help adopted children and children in foster care learn how to confidently handle their story and answer questions from others on their own terms. The book presents realistic situations that adopted and foster kids are likely to encounter, and guides parents and kids through different approaches to answering. Organized around the acrostic W.I.S.E., kids learn that they can Walk away, reply that It’s private, choose to Share something, or Educate others. Great resource for older adopted kids, and much of the information would also be appropriate to help tweens and teens know how to handle the inevitable questions they may get about your upcoming adoption. It’s a good resource for the whole family to use together.

    Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care

    Siblings in Adoption and Foster Care: Traumatic Separations and Honored Connections by Deborah N. Silverstein and Susan Livingston Smith – The sibling relationship is emotionally powerful and critically important, giving us a sense of continuity throughout life. So what happens when a child loses contact not only with his or her parents, but with siblings too? This book is a comprehensive resource on issues facing siblings during foster care or adoption. It is written for adults, but it is good to consult as you prepare your children for the adoption of a sibling, especially if you are adopting an older child.

    Image credit: Victoria_Borodinova


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