General Adoption Books for Adopted Children

Children's Books for General Adoption

    A Mama For Owen

    A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer (ages 2-7) – Owen the baby hippo and his mama were best friends. They loved to play hide-and-seek on the banks of the Sabaki River in Africa. That was all before the tsunami came and washed Owen’s world away. But after the rain stops, Owen befriends Mzee, a 130-year old giant tortoise. He plays with him, snuggles with him, and decides he just might turn out to be his best friend and a brand-new mama. This beautifully illustrated book is based on the true story of a baby hippo orphaned by the tsunami of 2004.

    Soar by Joan Bauer

    Soar by Joan Bauer (ages 10+) – Twelve-year-old Jeremiah Lopper was abandoned as an infant, then caught a virus that weakened his heart. More recently, a heart transplant has left him frail. However, he unexpectedly gets an opportunity to become involved with the local baseball team when he and his adoptive father move to Hillcrest, Ohio, a baseball-obsessed town whose high school and middle school teams have been destroyed by scandal. This book delivers a quiet and powerful story—Jeremiah, even after a heart transplant, stays positive and is determined to help as many people as he can feel happy. Not only about adoption, this book covers other hard-hitting issues middle-schoolers face like family disagreements, medical issues and addiction, and abandonment.

    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.

    The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (ages 9-12) – In the throes of World War II, all Ada and her younger brother Jeremy care about is that they’re finally in a permanent home with their new legal guardian, Susan. However, Ada, damaged by 10 years of abuse, doesn’t ever feel safe. Living in the midst of a world war only adds to Ada’s constant worries, and from blackout screens to rations, the stress and strain felt in everyday Kent during World War II is plain. The two siblings want to settle in and get close to their new family, but unexpected events caused by the war force them to adapt yet again, coming in close quarters with new neighbors and learning more about history than they ever had before. The War I Finally Won is the sequel to Bradley’s Newbery Honor–winning The War That Saved My Life, but can stand alone.

    The Mulberry Bird

    The Mulberry Bird by Anne Braff Brodzinsky (ages 6-10) – Mother Bird is looking after her baby bird in the forest, when a huge storm scatters her nest. Try as she might, she just can’t give him the protection he needs. She faces a choice: continue to struggle on her own, or give her precious baby bird to another family who can care for him in their strong, secure nest. In this classic adoption picture book for children, common issues in adoption are addressed―from the enduring force of a birth parent’s love and contact post-adoption to the importance of nurturing an adopted child in his or her new environment. I found that none of my kids would voluntarily read The Mulberry Bird by themselves, but I used it as a read aloud when they were about 8 to stimulate discussion. I had varying degrees of luck with discussion, depending on the kid.

    God Painted Me

    God Painted Me by Carol Bauman (ages 4-6) – God Painted Me is a heartwarming story that imparts a lesson of appreciating God’s craftwork, and imagines the way we came to be and how we are loved through adoption. It’s a sweet story of growing a family through adoption and the challenging and important questions children have, as well as a beautiful interpretation of how a child of a different ethnicity sees his family. This is an openly religious view of adoption, so it won’t be appropriate for all families.

    My Family Is Forever

    My Family Is Forever by Nancy Carlson (ages 2-5) – Some families look alike, some don’t. Some families are formed through birth, and some families are formed by adoption. But as the little girl in this heartwarming book makes clear, being a family isn’t about who you look like or where you were born—it’s about the love that binds you together. A charming introduction to adoption for young children.

    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. I used this as a discussion starter to be read to my kids when they were in early to mid elementary school and then left is where they could access it when they were older.

    Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth edited by Diane René Christian and Dr. Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman

    Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth edited by Diane René Christian and Dr. Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman (ages 8-12) – Dear Wonderful You is filled with thoughtful and inspiring letters written to the upcoming generation of adopted and fostered youth. Each of the 26 letters in the anthology was written by an adult adoptees or adults who were fostered. The writers’ want every young reader to know they have a network of support who “get it,” “get them,” and have been in their shoes. The authors were mostly adopted as infants, roughly half from the United States and half internationally, mostly from Asian countries. While the authors stress that the book is for adopted and foster youth, none of the authors spent significant time in the US foster care system. It is probably best for kids to read each letter individually, rather than trying to read the whole book straight through.

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis (ages 4-8) – Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is the tale of an adoption framed as a well-loved and much-requested bedtime story. In asking her parents to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl relives a cherished tale she knows by heart. Focusing on the significance of family and love, this a unique and beautiful story about adoption and the importance of a loving family. Both witty and open, the story addresses the logistics of adoption and the emotions of the family involved. A classic adoption story.

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey by Kelly DiBenedetto, Katie Gorczyca and Jennifer Eckert (ages 4-10) – This picture book is designed to be read aloud and to help parents discuss adoption with their children. Written from the perspective of the adoptee, it traces the different stages of adoption. It’s an excellent tool for families touched by adoption, providing insight into emotions and thoughts an adopted child might encounter while also equipping parents and caregivers with timely responses and resources.

    A Piglet Named Mercy

    A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo (ages 3-7) – Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the popular Mercy Watson series, this is a delightful look at nontraditional families are created and bound together with love.

    We Chose You

    We Chose You: A Book About Adoption, Family, and Forever Love by Tony and Lauren Dungy (ages 6-9) – When Calvin comes home with a school assignment to tell his class about his family, his parents break out the family photo album and share once again the story of how it was God’s plan that he was chosen to be a member of their family. Calvin loves the familiar story, but he wonders, since Mom and Dad chose him, what would happen if they changed their mind: “Could you un-choose me someday?” To alleviate his fears, Mom and Dad reassure Calvin that they chose him because they love him and that will never change. Both Calvin and his parents are African American, which is still a rarity in adoption books. We Chose You is billed as a story about adoption for Christian families and has strong Christian themes, so it won’t be for everyone.

    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.

    Forever Fingerprints

    Forever Fingerprints: An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children by Sherrie Eldridge (ages 4-8) – An excellent introduction to two essential concepts in adoption: sadness over missing birth parents is normal, and adoptive parents can be sensitive supporters for their children’s grief. Lucie is excited about her Aunt Grace’s pregnancy, but it makes her think of how she understands her adoption story in a different way. The tools offered in this book help her to create a unique connection to her birthparents, allow how she is feeling to surface and to be discussed, and give Lucie’s parents the chance to reinforce their love for her, to empathize with her feelings and to honor her past.

    Under His Wing

    Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children’s Hearts by Sherrie Eldridge & Beth Willis Miller (ages 10+) – This religious curriculum is meant for children 9 and older. Written by adult adoptees, it uses the story of Moses to help adoptees work through issues surrounding their relinquishment and adoption. The comparisons to the best known biblical adoptee are designed to give kids hope and helps them to realize that there is a way to get through seemingly impossible sadness, depression, and anger.

    Star of the Week

    Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman (ages 5-8) – It’s Cassidy—Li’s turn to be Star of the Week at school, and she’s busy collecting photos for her poster. She has pictures of all the important people in her life—with one big exception. Cassidy—Li, adopted from China when she was a baby, doesn’t have a photo of her birthparents. But with a little help from her family, she comes up with the perfect way to include them. Family trees and related school assignments can be difficult for adopted children. Star of the Week is a great tool to help parents discuss the question marks in their child’s family tree.

    My New Mom & Me

    My New Mom & Me by Renata Galindo (ages 3-6) – A beautifully illustrated story of a small puppy who is adopted by a cat. This gentle picture book is a calm look at adoption and joining families when all the newness is overwhelming and scary. The adopted child (a golden dog) and mother (an orange cat with brown stripes) are a good segue into how adoptive family members don’t necessarily look alike, especially in transracial adoption.

    Half A World Away by Cynthia Kadohata

    Half A World Away by Cynthia Kadohata (ages 10-14) – Twelve-year-old Jaden was adopted from Romania four years ago, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.” That’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him, he’s sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels… nothing. When they get to Kazakhstan, Jaden forms a bond with Dimash, a special needs toddler, and for the first time in his life, he actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury. Without sugarcoating the complexities and mishaps that can accompany international and older child adoptions, Newbery Medal–winner Kadohata Kadohata creates a candid and inspiring story about the struggle to become a family, hope and second chances.

    A Mother for Choco

    A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (ages 2-6) – Choco wishes he had a mother, but who could she be? He sets off to find her, asking all kinds of animals, but he doesn’t meet anyone who looks just like him. Kasza’s twist on the “Are you my mother?” theme has become one of the most highly recommended stories about adoption for children. This was my very favorites when mine were little. It’s a great way to address adoption and transracial adoption. My kids are grown, but I’ve saved our copy for our grandkids.

    Over the Moon

    Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz (ages 3-6) – This brightly illustrated picture book tells the story of follows a couple’s airplane trip “over the moon and through the night” to a “faraway place” where they adopt a baby girl. Inspired by Katz’s own trip to adopt her daughter from Central America, it’s an excellent tool to introduce adoption, especially international adoption, to a young child.

    Horace by Holly Keller (ages 3-6) – Horace is adopted. He is also spotted, and he is loved and cared for by his new mother and father–who are striped. But, as is frequently the case with adopted children, Horace feels the need to search out his roots. And although he does find a brood that resembles him physically, it is not a family that truly loves him. Another one of my family’s favorites that covers transracial adoption.

    Little Miss Spider

    Little Miss Spider by David Kirk (ages 1-5) – Little Miss Spider has just popped out of her egg and is wondering where her mother could be. The spiderling’s plaintive cries are heard by a passing beetle, who offers her kind assistance, and teachers her that your mother is the creature who loves you best–whomever that may be. This is such a sweet book. I didn’t have it when mine were the right age, but I wish I had.

    I Don't Have Your Eyes

    I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze (ages 2-7) – I Don’t Have Your Eyes… but I have your way of looking at things. Race comes from shared biological features; culture comes from shared experiences and values. This book, in a very simple and easy to understand way, is all about the difference between the two: a child may not be the same race as their other family members or friends, but they do have shared culture with them. Their eyes might be a different shape, but they view the world through a similar lens. While others may notice the physical differences, there are so many ways adopted families can celebrate the commonality that makes them truly family. A great book to start a discussion about what really makes a family.

    I've Loved You Since Forever

    I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb (ages 3-6) – A sweet story book celebrating how a parent’s love for their child. In lullaby-like verse, Kotb suggests that a mother’s love doesn’t begin when she meets her child for the first time, but that it has always been there, waiting for that child’s arrival: “I’ve loved you since forever. Before birds flew over rainbows and monkeys swung on trees, there was you… and there was me.” It doesn’t address adoption directly, but Kotb wrote it after adopting a daughter and the idea that parent and child shared a connection before birth might have special meaning for adoptive families.

    My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You

    My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You by Dr. Kevin Leman and Kevin Leman II (ages 4-8) – Every child is special. And every child deserves to be recognized for what makes him or her unique. Now birth order guru, Dr. Kevin Leman offers parents the perfect way to tell their adopted child just how wonderful he or she is. My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You conveys love, acceptance, and a sense of individuality to adopted children. This is a picture book that would appeal to the pre-school set, but is probably too babyish once they reach elementary school.

    The Misadventures Of The Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

    The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (ages 9-12) – The family Fletcher is ready for some adventures this year. The four Fletcher boys will all be in school, and the brothers can’t wait for different hijinks and experiments. But with this many boys and this many interests, will Dad and Papa be able to juggle all that’s going on? This spirited book of family hijinks follows four adoptive boys and their dads as they try to survive the school year. While the book touches on themes familiar in most adoption books, it’s less a book about adoption and more of a book featuring protagonists who just happen to be adopted. While books are a great way to introduce our kiddos to issues they may be dealing with, this kind of causal representation is equally powerful. After all, being adopted is only one of the many facets that make up our kids’ identities.

    The Best Family in the World

    The Best Family in the World by Susana Lopez (ages 5-8) – “I hope my new family is the best family the world,” Carlota wishes on her last night in the orphanage. As she anxiously waits for her new family, she wonders what they’ll be like and imagines all kinds of wonderful families–astronauts, pastry chefs, even pirates–and soon discovers that they are all that and more… they are the best family in the world! The Best Family in the World looks at older child adoption from the child’s point of view and features a Hispanic adoptive family, a nice addition to the white adoptive families often seen in adoption books.

    A Gift for Little Tree

    A Gift for Little Tree by Colleen D.C. Marquez (ages 5-7) – A parable about adoption, this charming story tells of an apple tree who is unable to bear fruit—no matter how hard she tries—until a wise farmer finds a way. He grafts a bud onto Little Tree’s limb, and in time she becomes the most colorful tree in the orchard. All those who have experienced the bonds of family in more ways than one will share in Little Tree’s delight when she discovers that it does not matter if her apples came from another tree; she loves them as her very own. It’s a great way to discuss adoption after infertility. The story has strong religious themes, so this book won’t be for everyone.

    Happy Adoption Day!

    Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon (ages 2-6) – This picture book adaptation of John McCutcheon’s “Happy Adoption Day!” song celebrates diversity in both family structure and makeup. Children will not only be introduced to a wide variety of families on a celebratory day, they can also have fun hearing and learning rhyming structure and singing along to this joyful tale.

    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (ages 9+) – Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, decide to adopt a boy to help them take care of their land in Prince Edwards Island, but to their surprise, 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley arrives to live with them instead. While Anne’s adoption-for-labor story doesn’t resemble modern adoption, this is still one of the original classics of adoption literature. If you haven’t read this wonderful series, start now. I read the first one out loud to each of my children when they were mid-elementary. The series follows Anne as she ages, so the later books really aren’t that interesting to youngish children. Personally, I didn’t even try to tie this book into an adoption discussion, I just let the message speak for itself.

    Pablo's Tree

    Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora (ages 2-6) – When Pablo was adopted, his grandfather planted a special tree in his honor. Now, every year on Pablo’s birthday, his grandfather picks something different with which to decorate it–streamers, colored balloons, paper lanterns, tiny birdcages. This is a delightful intergenerational story about creating special family traditions. It also features a Latino family and a single mother, which is a nice contrast to white, two-parent families often seen in adoption books.

    And That's Why She's My Mama

    And That’s Why She’s My Mama by Tiarra Nazario (ages 2-7) – This charming story celebrates diversity not only in family appearance, but in family size. It lets kids know that moms are wonderful, no matter what they look like or who they are, because moms take care of you no matter what. It’s not specifically about adoption, but it is about nontraditional families, and includes families formed through adoption and foster care.

    All About Adoption

    All about Adoption: How Families Are Made & How Kids Feel About It by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annuziata (ages 8-11) – Geared towards older children who already understand the basic concept of adoption, this work provides a deeper understanding of how the adoption process works and the feelings that many children have about being adopted. Topics include why children are given up for adoption and why adoptive parents want to adopt. The book focuses mostly on situations where the birth parents chose to place their children for adoption for various reasons and is therefore not suitable for children who have been removed from their birth parents due to abuse and neglect.

    A Family Is a Family Is a Family

    A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary (ages 4-8) – A heartwarming and whimsical story about accepting all types of family. The story starts with a kindergarten teacher asking her students to think about what makes their family special, a nerve-wracking assignment for a young girl in foster care who worries that her family is too different from her classmates. However, she soon learns that all her classmates’ families are different. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of step-siblings, and another has a new baby. As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them, the girl realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special. A wonderful book to introduce children to families that look different from their own, and to reassure adopted and foster children that there’s nothing wrong with their family looking different from others.

    It's Okay to Be Different

    It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (ages 4-6) – Parr uses his signature artistic style to tell kids (and adults) that it’s okay to be different. He addresses physical differences, disabilities, race, different family types and uses a picture of a kangaroo with a dog in its pouch to tell kids it’s okay to be adopted. A good introduction to multiculturalism and diversity, whether or not it focuses on adoption.

    The Family Book

    The Family Book by Todd Parr (ages 2-6) – This book falls into the all important “all families are different, but still a family” category. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. An excellent introduction to the many ways families can be created.

    We Belong Together

    We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families by Todd Parr (ages 3-6) – Parr does it again with a wonderful book about adoption for young kids. In a kid-friendly, accessible way, this book explores the ways that people can choose to come together to make a family by showing one perspective on the adoption experience. With an understanding of how personal and unique each adoption is, and that not everyone comes to it in the same way, Todd Parr’s colorful art explores the meaning of family.

    Patina by Jason Reynolds

    Patina by Jason Reynolds (11+) – Patina opens with two contrasting scenes. In the first, Patty misjudges her competitors in an 800-meter race she’s certain she should have won. Running well but second is not enough for the ferociously competitive Patty. In the other, she braids her little sister’s hair before church, finishing off each of Maddy’s 30 braids with three beads. She does this every Sunday because their white adoptive mother can’t (“there ain’t no rule book for white people to know how to work with black hair”) and because their birth mother insists they look their best for church. Their father dead and their birth mother’s legs lost to diabetes, the two girls live with their father’s brother and his wife, seeing their mother once a week in an arrangement that’s as imperfect as it is loving and necessary. Reynolds weaves a compelling story that tackles adoption, race and class, grief at the loss of a parent and the struggle fitting in at a new school without sacrificing action or plot. Patina is the second book in Reynolds’s Track series, but the first to focus on adoption and works as a stand alone.

    And Tango Makes Three

    And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson (ages 2-7) – At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own. Based on a true story of two male penguins who adopted an egg and raised the chick, this is a classic story about adoption and nontraditional families.

    I Wished For You: An Adoption Story

    I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond (ages 2-5) – “Mama,” said Barley. “Tell me again how I’m your wish come true.” Thus begins this beautiful story for adoptive families. I Wished for You follows a conversation between a little bear named Barley and his Mama as they curl up in their favorite cuddle spot and talk about how they became a family. Barley asks Mama the kinds of questions many adopted children have, and Mama lovingly answers them all. A great way to introduce adoption to a young child.

    Mr. Rogers Let’s Talk About It: Adoption

    Let’s Talk About It: Adoption by Fred Rogers (ages 4-8) – An oldie but a goodie. You can always count on Mr. Rogers, who had an adopted brother, to deliver a sensitive and calming introduction to any topic. This book opens the door for adopted children and their parents to safely talk about their good and sometimes not-so-good feelings in a book about the joy of belonging and the love that unites families. It applies to all forms of adoption. Dated and can be difficult to get a copy, but a wonderfully supportive text.

    Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

    Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan (ages 10-14) – Fifth-grader Naomi León Outlaw’s great-grandmother has been a loving guardian for Naomi and Owen, her handicapped brother, since their mother divorced their father and abandoned them in Lemon Tree, California seven years earlier. Life can be difficult, but Naomi feels safe in the regular routines of life until the unexpected arrival of her long-absent mother throws everything off balance. The troubled young woman’s difficulties threaten to overturn the security Gram has worked to provide for Naomi and Owen. With friends’ help, Gram takes the children to Oaxaca City to find their father and gain his support in her custody appeal. This is a beautiful story of connecting with and finding family and celebrates children who may live with a grandparent or other relative.

    Mean Margaret by Tor Seidler

    Mean Margaret by Tor Seidler (ages 8-12) – Margaret is a mean, cranky human toddler from a family of nine. She is such a pain that her beleaguered parents chuck her out, and she’s on her own, grousing and grumping until two caring woodchucks, Phoebe and Fred, take Margaret in as their own. But despite their love, Margaret continues to wreak havoc with her loud, destructive ways, ruining the burrow and shrieking nonstop. However, her new family is patient and continues to love her no matter what. This charming story helps kids understand that their emotions are not bad, and acknowledges that moving all the time is hard.

    Lucy's Family Tree

    Lucy’s Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck (ages 7-9) – Most children are assigned a family a family tree project for school at some point. This poses a frustrating dilemma for adoptees, whose family trees don’t always fit the typical format. Lucy’s adoption makes her feel as though her family is too “different” for a family tree project at school, but as she realizes that many families are different, she ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. Most peoples’ family trees don’t fit into just one standard type and that family trees should celebrate all different kinds of families: birth families, adoptive families, and everything in between.

    Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

    Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah (ages 8-12) – Dara Palmer is a star, and it’s about time the rest of the world knows it too. When she doesn’t get the lead part (or any part, for that matter) in her school play, she is shocked. Dara begins to question if it’s because she doesn’t look the part, since she’s adopted from Cambodia and the show is The Sound of Music, and she starts to wonder just how she fits in with the rest of her world. This often humorous novel explores questions of identity that every transracial adoptee must face growing up.

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (ages 10+) – Holly is twelve, and she loves counting and diagnosing medical conditions. But when her adoptive parents die in a tragic accident, her life is turned upside down. Her new friend Mai Nguyen persuades her mother to take Willow in; despite the Nguyens’ poverty, their makeshift home and open arms help bring Willow back from the void. This heartwarming children’s book about Holly’s life after the accident and finding her family and her place in the world is ultimately a celebration of the indomitable human spirit.

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner (ages 4-8) – “Let me tell the story this time, Momma,” says a young old Asian boy. “Once I was a picture you held in your hand,” he begins, and tells how he “flew through night and moon and stars” to his new home. He was frightened on the plane ride but held tight to the picture of his new family. When he arrived, his parents welcomed him at the airport with open arms. Although this book is more a reflection of older style international adoptions where the child was escorted rather than the parents traveling to bring the child home, it is still a sweet tale and was one of my family’s favorites. The country is not specified, but looks east Asian and is probably Vietnam.

    The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

    The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman (ages 10-14) – Twelve-year-old Imani, a black girl adopted into a white Jewish family, struggles to negotiate her understanding of identity and place while also untangling the skein of her great-grandma’s legacy. Imani loves her adoptive family, but as a young, black, soon-to-be-woman in a sea of most­ly white faces, she can’t help won­der­ing about her birth family and where they came from. She discovers an old diary in her great-grandmother’s house that tells her story of how, in 1941, she fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone to seek solace in Brooklyn. This historical fiction is a moving coming-of-age story for those who feel out of place and different.

    Home At Last

    Home at Last by Vera B. Williams (ages 6-9) – After Lester is adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he develops a big problem—he can’t fall asleep. Night after night he creeps into his parents’ room and attempts to crawl in between his two daddies, confident that if he’s with them and their dog, Wincka, nothing bad will happen to him ever again. But no matter how happy Lester seems during the day, he still gets scared and worried at night! Appropriate for foster care or older child adoption, Home at Last touches on the range of emotions Lester feels as he learns to trust his new parents.

    A Mama For Owen

    A Mama for Owen by Marion Dane Bauer (ages 2-7) – Owen the baby hippo and his mama were best friends. They loved to play hide-and-seek on the banks of the Sabaki River in Africa. That was all before the tsunami came and washed Owen’s world away. But after the rain stops, Owen befriends Mzee, a 130-year old giant tortoise. He plays with him, snuggles with him, and decides he just might turn out to be his best friend and a brand-new mama. This beautifully illustrated book is based on the true story of a baby hippo orphaned by the tsunami of 2004.

    God Painted Me

    God Painted Me by Carol Bauman (ages 4-6) – God Painted Me is a heartwarming story that imparts a lesson of appreciating God’s craftwork, and imagines the way we came to be and how we are loved through adoption. It’s a sweet story of growing a family through adoption and the challenging and important questions children have, as well as a beautiful interpretation of how a child of a different ethnicity sees his family. This is an openly religious view of adoption, so it won’t be appropriate for all families.

    My Family Is Forever

    My Family Is Forever by Nancy Carlson (ages 2-5) – Some families look alike, some don’t. Some families are formed through birth, and some families are formed by adoption. But as the little girl in this heartwarming book makes clear, being a family isn’t about who you look like or where you were born—it’s about the love that binds you together. A charming introduction to adoption for young children.

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis (ages 4-8) – Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is the tale of an adoption framed as a well-loved and much-requested bedtime story. In asking her parents to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl relives a cherished tale she knows by heart. Focusing on the significance of family and love, this a unique and beautiful story about adoption and the importance of a loving family. Both witty and open, the story addresses the logistics of adoption and the emotions of the family involved. A classic adoption story.

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey by Kelly DiBenedetto, Katie Gorczyca and Jennifer Eckert (ages 4-10) – This picture book is designed to be read aloud and to help parents discuss adoption with their children. Written from the perspective of the adoptee, it traces the different stages of adoption. It’s an excellent tool for families touched by adoption, providing insight into emotions and thoughts an adopted child might encounter while also equipping parents and caregivers with timely responses and resources.

    A Piglet Named Mercy

    A Piglet Named Mercy by Kate DiCamillo (ages 3-7) – Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the popular Mercy Watson series, this is a delightful look at nontraditional families are created and bound together with love.

    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.

    Forever Fingerprints

    Forever Fingerprints: An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children by Sherrie Eldridge (ages 4-8) – An excellent introduction to two essential concepts in adoption: sadness over missing birth parents is normal, and adoptive parents can be sensitive supporters for their children’s grief. Lucie is excited about her Aunt Grace’s pregnancy, but it makes her think of how she understands her adoption story in a different way. The tools offered in this book help her to create a unique connection to her birthparents, allow how she is feeling to surface and to be discussed, and give Lucie’s parents the chance to reinforce their love for her, to empathize with her feelings and to honor her past.

    My New Mom & Me

    My New Mom & Me by Renata Galindo (ages 3-6) – A beautifully illustrated story of a small puppy who is adopted by a cat. This gentle picture book is a calm look at adoption and joining families when all the newness is overwhelming and scary. The adopted child (a golden dog) and mother (an orange cat with brown stripes) are a good segue into how adoptive family members don’t necessarily look alike, especially in transracial adoption.

    A Mother for Choco

    A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza (ages 2-6) – Choco wishes he had a mother, but who could she be? He sets off to find her, asking all kinds of animals, but he doesn’t meet anyone who looks just like him. Kasza’s twist on the “Are you my mother?” theme has become one of the most highly recommended stories about adoption for children. This was my very favorites when mine were little. It’s a great way to address adoption and transracial adoption. My kids are grown, but I’ve saved our copy for our grandkids.

    Over the Moon

    Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz (ages 3-6) – This brightly illustrated picture book tells the story of follows a couple’s airplane trip “over the moon and through the night” to a “faraway place” where they adopt a baby girl. Inspired by Katz’s own trip to adopt her daughter from Central America, it’s an excellent tool to introduce adoption, especially international adoption, to a young child.

    Horace by Holly Keller (ages 3-6) – Horace is adopted. He is also spotted, and he is loved and cared for by his new mother and father–who are striped. But, as is frequently the case with adopted children, Horace feels the need to search out his roots. And although he does find a brood that resembles him physically, it is not a family that truly loves him. Another one of my family’s favorites that covers transracial adoption.

    Little Miss Spider

    Little Miss Spider by David Kirk (ages 1-5) – Little Miss Spider has just popped out of her egg and is wondering where her mother could be. The spiderling’s plaintive cries are heard by a passing beetle, who offers her kind assistance, and teachers her that your mother is the creature who loves you best–whomever that may be. This is such a sweet book. I didn’t have it when mine were the right age, but I wish I had.

    I Don't Have Your Eyes

    I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze (ages 2-7) – I Don’t Have Your Eyes… but I have your way of looking at things. Race comes from shared biological features; culture comes from shared experiences and values. This book, in a very simple and easy to understand way, is all about the difference between the two: a child may not be the same race as their other family members or friends, but they do have shared culture with them. Their eyes might be a different shape, but they view the world through a similar lens. While others may notice the physical differences, there are so many ways adopted families can celebrate the commonality that makes them truly family. A great book to start a discussion about what really makes a family.

    I've Loved You Since Forever

    I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb (ages 3-6) – A sweet story book celebrating how a parent’s love for their child. In lullaby-like verse, Kotb suggests that a mother’s love doesn’t begin when she meets her child for the first time, but that it has always been there, waiting for that child’s arrival: “I’ve loved you since forever. Before birds flew over rainbows and monkeys swung on trees, there was you… and there was me.” It doesn’t address adoption directly, but Kotb wrote it after adopting a daughter and the idea that parent and child shared a connection before birth might have special meaning for adoptive families.

    My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You

    My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You by Dr. Kevin Leman and Kevin Leman II (ages 4-8) – Every child is special. And every child deserves to be recognized for what makes him or her unique. Now birth order guru, Dr. Kevin Leman offers parents the perfect way to tell their adopted child just how wonderful he or she is. My Adopted Child, There’s No One Like You conveys love, acceptance, and a sense of individuality to adopted children. This is a picture book that would appeal to the pre-school set, but is probably too babyish once they reach elementary school.

    A Gift for Little Tree

    A Gift for Little Tree by Colleen D.C. Marquez (ages 5-7) – A parable about adoption, this charming story tells of an apple tree who is unable to bear fruit—no matter how hard she tries—until a wise farmer finds a way. He grafts a bud onto Little Tree’s limb, and in time she becomes the most colorful tree in the orchard. All those who have experienced the bonds of family in more ways than one will share in Little Tree’s delight when she discovers that it does not matter if her apples came from another tree; she loves them as her very own. It’s a great way to discuss adoption after infertility. The story has strong religious themes, so this book won’t be for everyone.

    Happy Adoption Day!

    Happy Adoption Day! by John McCutcheon (ages 2-6) – This picture book adaptation of John McCutcheon’s “Happy Adoption Day!” song celebrates diversity in both family structure and makeup. Children will not only be introduced to a wide variety of families on a celebratory day, they can also have fun hearing and learning rhyming structure and singing along to this joyful tale.

    Pablo's Tree

    Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora (ages 2-6) – When Pablo was adopted, his grandfather planted a special tree in his honor. Now, every year on Pablo’s birthday, his grandfather picks something different with which to decorate it–streamers, colored balloons, paper lanterns, tiny birdcages. This is a delightful intergenerational story about creating special family traditions. It also features a Latino family and a single mother, which is a nice contrast to white, two-parent families often seen in adoption books.

    And That's Why She's My Mama

    And That’s Why She’s My Mama by Tiarra Nazario (ages 2-7) – This charming story celebrates diversity not only in family appearance, but in family size. It lets kids know that moms are wonderful, no matter what they look like or who they are, because moms take care of you no matter what. It’s not specifically about adoption, but it is about nontraditional families, and includes families formed through adoption and foster care.

    It's Okay to Be Different

    It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr (ages 4-6) – Parr uses his signature artistic style to tell kids (and adults) that it’s okay to be different. He addresses physical differences, disabilities, race, different family types and uses a picture of a kangaroo with a dog in its pouch to tell kids it’s okay to be adopted. A good introduction to multiculturalism and diversity, whether or not it focuses on adoption.

    The Family Book

    The Family Book by Todd Parr (ages 2-6) – This book falls into the all important “all families are different, but still a family” category. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way. An excellent introduction to the many ways families can be created.

    We Belong Together

    We Belong Together: A Book about Adoption and Families by Todd Parr (ages 3-6) – Parr does it again with a wonderful book about adoption for young kids. In a kid-friendly, accessible way, this book explores the ways that people can choose to come together to make a family by showing one perspective on the adoption experience. With an understanding of how personal and unique each adoption is, and that not everyone comes to it in the same way, Todd Parr’s colorful art explores the meaning of family.

    And Tango Makes Three

    And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson (ages 2-7) – At the penguin house at the Central Park Zoo, two penguins named Roy and Silo were a little bit different from the others. But their desire for a family was the same. And with the help of a kindly zookeeper, Roy and Silo got the chance to welcome a baby penguin of their very own. Based on a true story of two male penguins who adopted an egg and raised the chick, this is a classic story about adoption and nontraditional families.

    I Wished For You: An Adoption Story

    I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond (ages 2-5) – “Mama,” said Barley. “Tell me again how I’m your wish come true.” Thus begins this beautiful story for adoptive families. I Wished for You follows a conversation between a little bear named Barley and his Mama as they curl up in their favorite cuddle spot and talk about how they became a family. Barley asks Mama the kinds of questions many adopted children have, and Mama lovingly answers them all. A great way to introduce adoption to a young child.

    Mr. Rogers Let’s Talk About It: Adoption

    Let’s Talk About It: Adoption by Fred Rogers (ages 4-8) – An oldie but a goodie. You can always count on Mr. Rogers, who had an adopted brother, to deliver a sensitive and calming introduction to any topic. This book opens the door for adopted children and their parents to safely talk about their good and sometimes not-so-good feelings in a book about the joy of belonging and the love that unites families. It applies to all forms of adoption. Dated and can be difficult to get a copy, but a wonderfully supportive text.

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner (ages 4-8) – “Let me tell the story this time, Momma,” says a young old Asian boy. “Once I was a picture you held in your hand,” he begins, and tells how he “flew through night and moon and stars” to his new home. He was frightened on the plane ride but held tight to the picture of his new family. When he arrived, his parents welcomed him at the airport with open arms. Although this book is more a reflection of older style international adoptions where the child was escorted rather than the parents traveling to bring the child home, it is still a sweet tale and was one of my family’s favorites. The country is not specified, but looks east Asian and is probably Vietnam.

    The Mulberry Bird

    The Mulberry Bird by Anne Braff Brodzinsky (ages 6-10) – Mother Bird is looking after her baby bird in the forest, when a huge storm scatters her nest. Try as she might, she just can’t give him the protection he needs. She faces a choice: continue to struggle on her own, or give her precious baby bird to another family who can care for him in their strong, secure nest. In this classic adoption picture book for children, common issues in adoption are addressed―from the enduring force of a birth parent’s love and contact post-adoption to the importance of nurturing an adopted child in his or her new environment. I found that none of my kids would voluntarily read The Mulberry Bird by themselves, but I used it as a read aloud when they were about 8 to stimulate discussion. I had varying degrees of luck with discussion, depending on the kid.

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

    Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis (ages 4-8) – Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born is the tale of an adoption framed as a well-loved and much-requested bedtime story. In asking her parents to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl relives a cherished tale she knows by heart. Focusing on the significance of family and love, this a unique and beautiful story about adoption and the importance of a loving family. Both witty and open, the story addresses the logistics of adoption and the emotions of the family involved. A classic adoption story.

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey

    Adoption Is a Lifelong Journey by Kelly DiBenedetto, Katie Gorczyca and Jennifer Eckert (ages 4-10) – This picture book is designed to be read aloud and to help parents discuss adoption with their children. Written from the perspective of the adoptee, it traces the different stages of adoption. It’s an excellent tool for families touched by adoption, providing insight into emotions and thoughts an adopted child might encounter while also equipping parents and caregivers with timely responses and resources.

    We Chose You

    We Chose You: A Book About Adoption, Family, and Forever Love by Tony and Lauren Dungy (ages 6-9) – When Calvin comes home with a school assignment to tell his class about his family, his parents break out the family photo album and share once again the story of how it was God’s plan that he was chosen to be a member of their family. Calvin loves the familiar story, but he wonders, since Mom and Dad chose him, what would happen if they changed their mind: “Could you un-choose me someday?” To alleviate his fears, Mom and Dad reassure Calvin that they chose him because they love him and that will never change. Both Calvin and his parents are African American, which is still a rarity in adoption books. We Chose You is billed as a story about adoption for Christian families and has strong Christian themes, so it won’t be for everyone.

    Forever Fingerprints

    Forever Fingerprints: An Amazing Discovery for Adopted Children by Sherrie Eldridge (ages 4-8) – An excellent introduction to two essential concepts in adoption: sadness over missing birth parents is normal, and adoptive parents can be sensitive supporters for their children’s grief. Lucie is excited about her Aunt Grace’s pregnancy, but it makes her think of how she understands her adoption story in a different way. The tools offered in this book help her to create a unique connection to her birthparents, allow how she is feeling to surface and to be discussed, and give Lucie’s parents the chance to reinforce their love for her, to empathize with her feelings and to honor her past.

    Star of the Week

    Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman (ages 5-8) – It’s Cassidy—Li’s turn to be Star of the Week at school, and she’s busy collecting photos for her poster. She has pictures of all the important people in her life—with one big exception. Cassidy—Li, adopted from China when she was a baby, doesn’t have a photo of her birthparents. But with a little help from her family, she comes up with the perfect way to include them. Family trees and related school assignments can be difficult for adopted children. Star of the Week is a great tool to help parents discuss the question marks in their child’s family tree.

    The Best Family in the World

    The Best Family in the World by Susana Lopez (ages 5-8) – “I hope my new family is the best family the world,” Carlota wishes on her last night in the orphanage. As she anxiously waits for her new family, she wonders what they’ll be like and imagines all kinds of wonderful families–astronauts, pastry chefs, even pirates–and soon discovers that they are all that and more… they are the best family in the world! The Best Family in the World looks at older child adoption from the child’s point of view and features a Hispanic adoptive family, a nice addition to the white adoptive families often seen in adoption books.

    A Gift for Little Tree

    A Gift for Little Tree by Colleen D.C. Marquez (ages 5-7) – A parable about adoption, this charming story tells of an apple tree who is unable to bear fruit—no matter how hard she tries—until a wise farmer finds a way. He grafts a bud onto Little Tree’s limb, and in time she becomes the most colorful tree in the orchard. All those who have experienced the bonds of family in more ways than one will share in Little Tree’s delight when she discovers that it does not matter if her apples came from another tree; she loves them as her very own. It’s a great way to discuss adoption after infertility. The story has strong religious themes, so this book won’t be for everyone.

    All About Adoption

    All about Adoption: How Families Are Made & How Kids Feel About It by Marc Nemiroff and Jane Annuziata (ages 8-11) – Geared towards older children who already understand the basic concept of adoption, this work provides a deeper understanding of how the adoption process works and the feelings that many children have about being adopted. Topics include why children are given up for adoption and why adoptive parents want to adopt. The book focuses mostly on situations where the birth parents chose to place their children for adoption for various reasons and is therefore not suitable for children who have been removed from their birth parents due to abuse and neglect.

    A Family Is a Family Is a Family

    A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary (ages 4-8) – A heartwarming and whimsical story about accepting all types of family. The story starts with a kindergarten teacher asking her students to think about what makes their family special, a nerve-wracking assignment for a young girl in foster care who worries that her family is too different from her classmates. However, she soon learns that all her classmates’ families are different. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of step-siblings, and another has a new baby. As her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them, the girl realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special. A wonderful book to introduce children to families that look different from their own, and to reassure adopted and foster children that there’s nothing wrong with their family looking different from others.

    Mr. Rogers Let’s Talk About It: Adoption

    Let’s Talk About It: Adoption by Fred Rogers (ages 4-8) – An oldie but a goodie. You can always count on Mr. Rogers, who had an adopted brother, to deliver a sensitive and calming introduction to any topic. This book opens the door for adopted children and their parents to safely talk about their good and sometimes not-so-good feelings in a book about the joy of belonging and the love that unites families. It applies to all forms of adoption. Dated and can be difficult to get a copy, but a wonderfully supportive text.

    Lucy's Family Tree

    Lucy’s Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck (ages 7-9) – Most children are assigned a family a family tree project for school at some point. This poses a frustrating dilemma for adoptees, whose family trees don’t always fit the typical format. Lucy’s adoption makes her feel as though her family is too “different” for a family tree project at school, but as she realizes that many families are different, she ends up creating a family tree that celebrates both her past and present. Most peoples’ family trees don’t fit into just one standard type and that family trees should celebrate all different kinds of families: birth families, adoptive families, and everything in between.

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies

    Through Moon and Stars and Night Skies by Ann Turner (ages 4-8) – “Let me tell the story this time, Momma,” says a young old Asian boy. “Once I was a picture you held in your hand,” he begins, and tells how he “flew through night and moon and stars” to his new home. He was frightened on the plane ride but held tight to the picture of his new family. When he arrived, his parents welcomed him at the airport with open arms. Although this book is more a reflection of older style international adoptions where the child was escorted rather than the parents traveling to bring the child home, it is still a sweet tale and was one of my family’s favorites. The country is not specified, but looks east Asian and is probably Vietnam.

    Home At Last

    Home at Last by Vera B. Williams (ages 6-9) – After Lester is adopted by Daddy Albert and Daddy Rich, he develops a big problem—he can’t fall asleep. Night after night he creeps into his parents’ room and attempts to crawl in between his two daddies, confident that if he’s with them and their dog, Wincka, nothing bad will happen to him ever again. But no matter how happy Lester seems during the day, he still gets scared and worried at night! Appropriate for foster care or older child adoption, Home at Last touches on the range of emotions Lester feels as he learns to trust his new parents.

    Soar by Joan Bauer

    Soar by Joan Bauer (ages 10+) – Twelve-year-old Jeremiah Lopper was abandoned as an infant, then caught a virus that weakened his heart. More recently, a heart transplant has left him frail. However, he unexpectedly gets an opportunity to become involved with the local baseball team when he and his adoptive father move to Hillcrest, Ohio, a baseball-obsessed town whose high school and middle school teams have been destroyed by scandal. This book delivers a quiet and powerful story—Jeremiah, even after a heart transplant, stays positive and is determined to help as many people as he can feel happy. Not only about adoption, this book covers other hard-hitting issues middle-schoolers face like family disagreements, medical issues and addiction, and abandonment.

    The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (ages 9-12) – In the throes of World War II, all Ada and her younger brother Jeremy care about is that they’re finally in a permanent home with their new legal guardian, Susan. However, Ada, damaged by 10 years of abuse, doesn’t ever feel safe. Living in the midst of a world war only adds to Ada’s constant worries, and from blackout screens to rations, the stress and strain felt in everyday Kent during World War II is plain. The two siblings want to settle in and get close to their new family, but unexpected events caused by the war force them to adapt yet again, coming in close quarters with new neighbors and learning more about history than they ever had before. The War I Finally Won is the sequel to Bradley’s Newbery Honor–winning The War That Saved My Life, but can stand alone.

    Half A World Away by Cynthia Kadohata

    Half A World Away by Cynthia Kadohata (ages 10-14) – Twelve-year-old Jaden was adopted from Romania four years ago, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.” That’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him, he’s sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels… nothing. When they get to Kazakhstan, Jaden forms a bond with Dimash, a special needs toddler, and for the first time in his life, he actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury. Without sugarcoating the complexities and mishaps that can accompany international and older child adoptions, Newbery Medal–winner Kadohata Kadohata creates a candid and inspiring story about the struggle to become a family, hope and second chances.

    The Misadventures Of The Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

    The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (ages 9-12) – The family Fletcher is ready for some adventures this year. The four Fletcher boys will all be in school, and the brothers can’t wait for different hijinks and experiments. But with this many boys and this many interests, will Dad and Papa be able to juggle all that’s going on? This spirited book of family hijinks follows four adoptive boys and their dads as they try to survive the school year. While the book touches on themes familiar in most adoption books, it’s less a book about adoption and more of a book featuring protagonists who just happen to be adopted. While books are a great way to introduce our kiddos to issues they may be dealing with, this kind of causal representation is equally powerful. After all, being adopted is only one of the many facets that make up our kids’ identities.

    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

    Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery (ages 9+) – Marilla Cuthbert and her brother, Matthew, decide to adopt a boy to help them take care of their land in Prince Edwards Island, but to their surprise, 11-year-old orphan Anne Shirley arrives to live with them instead. While Anne’s adoption-for-labor story doesn’t resemble modern adoption, this is still one of the original classics of adoption literature. If you haven’t read this wonderful series, start now. I read the first one out loud to each of my children when they were mid-elementary. The series follows Anne as she ages, so the later books really aren’t that interesting to youngish children. Personally, I didn’t even try to tie this book into an adoption discussion, I just let the message speak for itself.

    Patina by Jason Reynolds

    Patina by Jason Reynolds (11+) – Patina opens with two contrasting scenes. In the first, Patty misjudges her competitors in an 800-meter race she’s certain she should have won. Running well but second is not enough for the ferociously competitive Patty. In the other, she braids her little sister’s hair before church, finishing off each of Maddy’s 30 braids with three beads. She does this every Sunday because their white adoptive mother can’t (“there ain’t no rule book for white people to know how to work with black hair”) and because their birth mother insists they look their best for church. Their father dead and their birth mother’s legs lost to diabetes, the two girls live with their father’s brother and his wife, seeing their mother once a week in an arrangement that’s as imperfect as it is loving and necessary. Reynolds weaves a compelling story that tackles adoption, race and class, grief at the loss of a parent and the struggle fitting in at a new school without sacrificing action or plot. Patina is the second book in Reynolds’s Track series, but the first to focus on adoption and works as a stand alone.

    Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan

    Becoming Naomi León by Pam Muñoz Ryan (ages 10-14) – Fifth-grader Naomi León Outlaw’s great-grandmother has been a loving guardian for Naomi and Owen, her handicapped brother, since their mother divorced their father and abandoned them in Lemon Tree, California seven years earlier. Life can be difficult, but Naomi feels safe in the regular routines of life until the unexpected arrival of her long-absent mother throws everything off balance. The troubled young woman’s difficulties threaten to overturn the security Gram has worked to provide for Naomi and Owen. With friends’ help, Gram takes the children to Oaxaca City to find their father and gain his support in her custody appeal. This is a beautiful story of connecting with and finding family and celebrates children who may live with a grandparent or other relative.

    Mean Margaret by Tor Seidler

    Mean Margaret by Tor Seidler (ages 8-12) – Margaret is a mean, cranky human toddler from a family of nine. She is such a pain that her beleaguered parents chuck her out, and she’s on her own, grousing and grumping until two caring woodchucks, Phoebe and Fred, take Margaret in as their own. But despite their love, Margaret continues to wreak havoc with her loud, destructive ways, ruining the burrow and shrieking nonstop. However, her new family is patient and continues to love her no matter what. This charming story helps kids understand that their emotions are not bad, and acknowledges that moving all the time is hard.

    Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah

    Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah (ages 8-12) – Dara Palmer is a star, and it’s about time the rest of the world knows it too. When she doesn’t get the lead part (or any part, for that matter) in her school play, she is shocked. Dara begins to question if it’s because she doesn’t look the part, since she’s adopted from Cambodia and the show is The Sound of Music, and she starts to wonder just how she fits in with the rest of her world. This often humorous novel explores questions of identity that every transracial adoptee must face growing up.

    Counting By 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan (ages 10+) – Holly is twelve, and she loves counting and diagnosing medical conditions. But when her adoptive parents die in a tragic accident, her life is turned upside down. Her new friend Mai Nguyen persuades her mother to take Willow in; despite the Nguyens’ poverty, their makeshift home and open arms help bring Willow back from the void. This heartwarming children’s book about Holly’s life after the accident and finding her family and her place in the world is ultimately a celebration of the indomitable human spirit.

    The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman

    The Length of a String by Elissa Brent Weissman (ages 10-14) – Twelve-year-old Imani, a black girl adopted into a white Jewish family, struggles to negotiate her understanding of identity and place while also untangling the skein of her great-grandma’s legacy. Imani loves her adoptive family, but as a young, black, soon-to-be-woman in a sea of most­ly white faces, she can’t help won­der­ing about her birth family and where they came from. She discovers an old diary in her great-grandmother’s house that tells her story of how, in 1941, she fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone to seek solace in Brooklyn. This historical fiction is a moving coming-of-age story for those who feel out of place and different.

    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. I used this as a discussion starter to be read to my kids when they were in early to mid elementary school and then left is where they could access it when they were older.

    Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth edited by Diane René Christian and Dr. Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman

    Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth edited by Diane René Christian and Dr. Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman (ages 8-12) – Dear Wonderful You is filled with thoughtful and inspiring letters written to the upcoming generation of adopted and fostered youth. Each of the 26 letters in the anthology was written by an adult adoptees or adults who were fostered. The writers’ want every young reader to know they have a network of support who “get it,” “get them,” and have been in their shoes. The authors were mostly adopted as infants, roughly half from the United States and half internationally, mostly from Asian countries. While the authors stress that the book is for adopted and foster youth, none of the authors spent significant time in the US foster care system. It is probably best for kids to read each letter individually, rather than trying to read the whole book straight through.

    Under His Wing

    Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children’s Hearts by Sherrie Eldridge & Beth Willis Miller (ages 10+) – This religious curriculum is meant for children 9 and older. Written by adult adoptees, it uses the story of Moses to help adoptees work through issues surrounding their relinquishment and adoption. The comparisons to the best known biblical adoptee are designed to give kids hope and helps them to realize that there is a way to get through seemingly impossible sadness, depression, and anger.

    Image Credit: Patrick,  az

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