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!
PICTURE BOOKS AND CHAPTER BOOKS FOR CHILDREN AND TWEENS:
Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing! by Carrie Goldman and Juliet Bond, LCSW. Ten-year-old Jazzy Armstrong, the only adoptee in her family, feels different from her parents and her two older sisters. Jazzy, who loves Star Wars, needs to find out what makes her amazing in time for the community talent show. Is there a hidden talent she got from her birth family? Can her sisters help as she struggles with her identity? This heartwarming chapter book is the first book in the Jazzy’s Quest series, which will feature all different types of adoptees.
Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most by Juliet Bond, LCSW and Carrie Goldman. Ten year-old Jazzy has an open adoption, but her new friend Michael — who was adopted from foster care — does not have any contact with his biological family. This story of tween friendship explores issues of trust, fitting in, and how kids can respond to making mistakes in their relationships. The touching chapter book is the sequel to Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing.
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.
Families Change: A Book For Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights by Julie Nelson. Honest words and full illustrations help provide support and hope to children in stressful situations. Kids need to understand that it is not their fault when they get a new foster parent or a new adoptive parent.
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.
The Mulberry Bird by Anne Braff Brodzinsky. This sweet but sad story is about a mother bird who must place her baby for adoption because she cannot take care of him properly. She makes the hard decision to place him with a bird family that can love him and protect him. A good picture book that helps explain why birthmothers choose adoption.
The Best Single Mom In The World: How I Was Adopted by Mary Zisk. A parent and child share in the telling of how a single mother adopted a child. Picture book for ages three and up.
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.
A Blessing From Above by Patti Henderson. A Christian-based adoption book that tells the sweet story of a kangaroo with an empty pouch who longs for a baby. One day a baby bird falls from his overcrowded nest and lands in her pouch.
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.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco. A loving story of the home that Marmee and Meema have built with their three adopted children. This book teaches kids that it is okay to have a different family structure.
Maybe Days: A Book For Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright. Many children in foster care hear the answer “maybe” to all of their questions about with whom and when and where and how they will be living. This straightforward primer for kids explains the roles of everyone in the foster care system and reminds kids that their job is to always be kids!
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.
Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman. Although this is not specifically an adoption book, it is a lovely rhyming picture book about how much we love our children and how they carry our love within them, even when we are apart. It is very appropriate for adopted children who are thinking about their birth families.
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.
Little Miss Spider by David Kirk. Little Miss Spider pops out of her egg but cannot find her mother. Betty the Beetle is there to help her, especially when she encounters danger and needs to be protected. A good book for preschoolers.
P.B. and Jay of the Sandwich Islands by Edward Andrew Pierce. P.B. (Polar Bear) was adopted into Jay’s penguin family. P.B. begins to doubt his identity and sense of belonging, and his family helps.
Forever Fingerprints by Sherrie Eldridge. Lucie feels a baby moving in her Aunt Grace’s tummy, which leads to questions about her own adoption story. A loving way to help adoptees connect with their birth parents and cope with upsetting feelings.
ADOPTION FICTION RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TEENS AND YOUNG ADULTS
The Pinballs by Betsy Byars. The Pinballs is about Carlie, Harvey and Thomas J, three children who are made to live together in a foster home. At first, they don’t get along, as each is carrying personal burdens from difficult home lives. But over time, they find ways to help each other, and in doing so, forge a bond. The characters grow and change during the story.
See No Color by Shannon Gibney. Sixteen-year-old Alex Kirtridge is a biracial girl with a white family, which never seemed to matter until recently. She discovers letters from her biological father that her parents kept for her; she meets Reggie, the first black guy who wants to get to know her, and she begins to question her identity.
Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want To Be? Edited by Robert Ballard. An authentic collection of stories, poems, art, music and quotes by adoptees that can help teen adoptees begin to understand who they are.
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.
Broken Strings by Nancy Means Wright. A YA mystery about the sudden death of puppeteer Marion, and her friend, Fay, who plans to carry on Marion’s work. But Fay is busy with her three foster children — Apple and Beets, who have a father in jail, and 16-year-old chance, who has a crush on an older guy in a band called Ghouls.
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Looking for an awesome children’s adoption book? Check out new release Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing!