Adoption Books For Kids: A Reading List for Children and Teens in Adoptive and Foster Families

Adoption Books For Kids: A Reading List for Children and Teens in Adoptive and Foster Families

Portrait of an Adoption is happy to present this comprehensive list of fiction and nonfiction books that are relevant to adoption and foster care, based on months of careful research.  Children’s books are listed first, followed by Young Adult/Teen books.  Enjoy and please share this list of adoption books for kids!


All Bears Need Love by Tanya Valentine.  Baby Brown Bear arrives at the zoo, alone and frightened, until he is adopted by Mama Polar Bear.  A picture book that is particularly good for multiracial families.

A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza.  A touching picture book about a little bird that is searching for a mother who looks like him.  When Choco  weeps in despair, Mama Bear comes to help him and ends up adopting him.  At home, we find Mama Bear has also adopted a baby alligator, a baby pig, and a baby Hippo.

Bringing Asha Home by Uma Krishnaswami.  Told from the point-of-view of 8-yr-old Arun, a little boy who longs for a sibling and is waiting and waiting for his parents to adopt a little girl from India.  Finally Arun’s family is able to make travel plans to bring Asha home.

ABC, Adoption & Me by Gayle H. Swift and Casey A. Swift. An ABC picture book with definitions that offer simple yet surprisingly deep explanations of many facets of adoption.  The book is illustrated with cartoon-style characters and is told from the first-person point of view, making it feel very approachable for kids.

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis.  A beloved picture book about domestic newborn adoption and the excitement of rushing to the hospital to meet your new baby.

I Wished For You: an Adoption Story by Marianne Richard.  A sweet conversation between Barley Bear and his Mama in which he asks her all about his adoption.

Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale by Karen Henry Clark. The beautiful story of a baby girl adopted from China.

Over the Moon: An Adoption Tale by Karen Katz.  An international adoption tale inspired by the author’s adoption of her child.

The Family Book by Todd Parr.  A simple, brightly-colored picture book that emphasizes all the different types of families in our world.

All About Adoption: How Families Are Made and How Kids Feel About It by Marc A. Nemiroff and Jane Anunziata. Geared towards older children, a text-rich picture book that is particularly good for domestic adoption and foster adoption.

Rebecca’s Journey Home by Brynn Olenberg Sugarman and Michelle Shapiro.  The story of a Jewish family with two sons that is waiting to adopt a little girl from China.  Great choice to read to kids who are waiting for a sibling through international adoption.

A Tale of Two Daddies by Vanita Oelschlager.  A story of a little girl adopted by two gay men.  The child talks lovingly about Daddy and Poppa and answers the questions of curious children.

My New Family: A First Look at Adoption by Pat Thomas. A picture book that deals with emotions both positive and negative in adoption.  Includes a guide for parents on how to use the book.

Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption, and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman. A story about a little girl adopted from China who is star of the week at school.  She finds a way to show who she is, despite not having a photo of her birth parents.

The Little Green Goose by Adele Sansone. A male goose wishes for a baby of his own.  He adopts an egg and ends up hatching a baby dinosaur.

Pablo’s Tree by Pat Mora. A sweet story about a  young Hispanic boy named Pablo who is excited to visit his grandfather and discover what treasures will be placed on his tree, a tree that was purchased when Pablo was adopted.  This inter-generational story focuses on the love between a grandfather and a grandson.

Sam’s Sister by Juliet Bond.  This is the first book that has been written for children of birth parents who are making an adoption plan for a younger sibling.  It is about 5-yr-old Rosa, whose mother Laura is pregnant with baby Sam and is in the process of finding a family to adopt Sam.  The story deals with the grief experienced by birth families, especially birth siblings.

How I Was Adopted by Joanna Cole.  This is a book for young children but it DOES INCLUDE a description of how a baby is born, including illustrations, so if you are not ready for that discussion with your young child, hold off on this book.

How I Became a Big Brother by Dave Moore.  A story for told from the point of view of a toddler boy whose family adopts a baby sibling.  Simple story that explains what is happening to a young child whose family is adopting.

Teazles' baby bunny, The | British Association for Adoption and Fostering This rhyming picture book for young children tells the story of the Teazle rabbits, who adopt a baby bunny.

Why Was I Adopted? by Carole Livingston.  A good explanation of all types of adoption.  Out of print, but used copies are available on Amazon.

Motherbridge of Love by Xinran.  This book shares its name with a London-based organization dedicated to promoting greater understanding of Chinese life and culture among adoptive families in the West. The text, credited to an anonymous adoptive mother, takes the form of a series of heartfelt, parallel musings about two women "who never knew each other" but who are central to a sprightly Chinese girl. "The first one gave you life; the second taught you to live it.

Horace by Holly Keller.  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 who are "different" ("My spots are silly. . . and I'm all the wrong colors"), Horace feels the need to search out his roots.

God Found Us You  by Lisa Dawn Bergren. The story of Mama Fox and her longing for a baby before she adopted beloved Little Fox.

Rosie's Family; An adoption story  by Lori Rosove. Rosie is a beagle who was adopted by schnauzers. She feels different from the rest of her family, including her brother, who is the biological child of her parents,and sets forth many questions that children who were adopted may have

The Adventures of Taxi Dog by Debra Barracca.  A kind taxi driver in NYC adopts a homeless dog and lets him ride along on adventures and share in his love.

Adoption Children’s picture books | Special Stories Publishing A collection of special needs and special education picture books designed for all children, including books on adoption.

Shades of People by Shelley Rotner.  Cocoa, tan, rose, and almond-people come in lots of shades, even in the same family. This exploration of one of our most noticeable physical traits uses vibrant photographs of children and is great for multiracial families.

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz.  A loving book about the many shades of brown.  Written is affirmation of Katz’s daughter, who was adopted from Guatemala.

Let's Talk About It: Adoption by Fred Rogers.  Mr. Rogers 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.

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin. A beautiful adoption story particularly appropriate for families who have adopted from China.

I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose A. Lewis.  A loving story about a mother who adopts a baby from China, based on the author’s own experiences.

A Forever Family by Boslyn Banish. A first-person true photo essay that documents eight-year-old Jenny's life before and after her adoption. As black-and-white photos show her with friends and extended family, readers learn of her likes and dislikes amidst her accounts of positive experiences within the foster care and social service system. Her natural curiosity surfaces and surrounds the adoptive process, her biological parents, and the problems that caused them to surrender her to the authorities when she was three. This upbeat, loving, yet honest story has a picture book appearance that offers accessibility to beginning readers

Peef the Christmas Bear (Peef the Bear) by Tom Hegg. This wonderful book is about a little bear toy finding love but not exactly about adoption.


Returnable Girl by Pamela Lowell. Now thirteen years old, Ronnie has been "returned" from multiple foster homes because of her impulsive lying and stealing. Her latest foster mom, Alison, is Ronnie’s very last chance.

The Last Chance Texaco by Brent Hartinger. Lucy Pitt is 15 when she is sent to Kindle Home, a group home and her last chance at a semi-normal life. If she makes any errors, she'll be sent to the high-security facility known as Eat-Their-Young Island. Kindle Home is different from the other places she's lived, primarily due to the dedication of the counselors and the way in which they connect with the kids.

The Wanderer by Sharon Creech. Thirteen-year-old Sophie, skipping between "dreamland or earthland or muleland," hears the sea calling her. Much to the concern of her adopted parents, she decides to join her uncles and male cousins on a sailing voyage from Connecticut across the Atlantic to England (and her grandfather Bompie) on a 45-foot sailboat. Not only does she want to make the trip, she feels she has to.

Homecoming By Cynthia Voigt. A YA story about four children who are abandoned by their mother.  The oldest child, Dicey, leads them in a journey to their estranged grandmother’s house, hoping to avoid foster care.

Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt.  The sequel to Homecoming.  After spending so much time and energy taking care of her younger siblings, Dicey struggles with her own identity and with her past.

Find a Stranger Say Goodbye by Lois Lowry.  Beautiful, intelligent teenager Natalie Armstrong embarks on a search for her birthmother in this novel about adoption before the digital age.

Don’t Think Twice by Ruth Pennebaker.  A teenage girl in the 1960’s is sent to live in a group home for unwed pregnant teens.  This novel focuses on the relationships the girls develop with each other.

My Road Trip To The Pretty Girl Capital of the World by Brian Yansky.  Set in 1979, this young adult novel features disgruntled teenager Simon, who is in trouble with everyone.  His parents treat his adoption as something shameful, and Simon heads to Texas in search of his roots.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu.  A beautiful story for teens.  The main character was adopted from India by parents who are divorced when the book begins.  She feels angst about fitting in.  The book lets complex definitions of family and friendship and hard questions exist without neat answers or even without any answer at all.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Portrait of an Adoption is written by Carrie Goldman, the award-winning author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.

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