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Children's Books with Foster Care Themes


My best friend like myself struggles with infertility. However, she and her husband have taken the necessary steps and are now certified foster parents! I am so happy for them and hope they find the perfect placement opportunity because they are hoping to foster to adopt. She has done a lot of research about fostering and has read many non-fiction books about what its like fostering, fostering stories and such. Today I will be sharing some fictional stories about fostering for children. As adults we know ways we can educate ourselves on the process and our feelings, but children sometimes have a much more difficult time understanding their thoughts and understanding what's happening. Books with themes and messages they can relate to told from kids their own age can go a long way in making their circumstances easier, and help them to feel less alone in the process.


Picture Books

A Family Is a Family Is a Family by

Sara O'Leary, illustrated by Qin Leng


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways — but the same in the one way that matters most of all.


One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of stepsiblings, and another has a new baby.


As one by one, her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them — family of every shape, size and every kind of relation — the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special.


A warm and whimsical look at many types of families written by award-winning author Sara O’Leary, A Family is a Family is a Family springs to life with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng.


Zachary's New Home: A Story for Foster and Adopted Children by Geraldine M. Blomquist &

Paul Blomquist, illustrated by Margo Lemieux


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: This story for adopted and foster children describes the adventures of Zachary the kitten, who is taken from his mother's house when she is unable to take care of him. It follows Zachary as he goes into foster care, his adoption by a family of geese and his feelings of shame, anger and hurt.






Stellaluna by Janell Cannon


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: While out searching for food, fruit bat Stellaluna and her mother are attacked by an owl. Stellaluna is separated from her mother and taken in by a family of birds. It's a delightful story about temporary family.








Murphy's Three Homes by Jan Levinson Gilman, illustrated by Kathy O'Malley


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Murphy, a Tibetan Terrier puppy, is told he is a "good luck dog"--he is cheerful, happy, and loves to play and wag his tail. However, after going through two different homes and an animal shelter, Murphy starts to feel like a "bad luck dog" who nobody wants. Murphy's Three Homes follows this adorable pup through his placement in three new homes, as well as through his anxiety, self-doubt, and hope for a new, loving family. Finally, Murphy is placed in a caring foster home where he feels comfortable and valued. He learns that he is not a bad dog after all and can go back to being a playful puppy and a "good luck dog!"


An extensive Note to Parents, written by author Jan Levinson Gilman, PhD, discusses the emotional experience of children who are in foster care, and provides caregivers with information on how to help kids cope with the difficulties of being placed in multiple homes.


Elliot by Julie Pearson, illustrated by Manon Gauthier


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Elliot's parents love him very much, but all is not well. When he cries, they do not understand why. When he yells, they do not know what to do. When he misbehaves, they do not know how to react. One day a social worker named Thomas comes to visit, and Elliot's world turns upside-down. Manon Gauthier's soft collage illustrations feature approachable rabbit characters, while Julie Pearson's soothing, repetitive text guides Elliot gently through the foster child system. The new families that care for the little boy are kind, but everything is strange and new, and the sudden changes make him want to cry and yell AND misbehave. Then, when it becomes clear that Elliot's parents will never be able to take him back, Thomas sets out to find Elliot one last home - a forever, forever home with a family that will love and care for him no matter what.


Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki & Marcia Kahn Wright, illustrated by Allssa Imre Geis


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: For many children in foster care, the answer to many questions is often maybe. Maybe Days is a straightforward look at the issues of foster care, the questions that children ask, and the feelings that they confront. A primer for children going into foster care, the book also explains in children's terms the responsibilities of everyone involved - parents, social workers, lawyers and judges. As for the children themselves, their job is to be a kid - and there's no maybe about that.






The Red Thread by Grace Lin


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together. A king and queen rule a beautiful and peaceful land. They should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler's magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The king and queen know they must follow the thread--wherever it may lead. Grace Lin's lovely adoption fairy tale is for all children--and the parents who would search the world to find them.



Middle Grade Books

Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: An achingly beautiful story in the vein of Rebecca Stead and R. J. Palacio about two foster children who want desperately to believe that they’ve found their forever home.


Flora and her brother, Julian, don’t believe they were born. They’ve lived in so many foster homes, they can’t remember where they came from. And even now that they’ve been adopted, Flora still struggles to believe in forever. So along with their new mother, Flora and Julian begin a journey to go back and discover their past—for only then can they really begin to build their future.







Finding the Right Spot by Janice Levy, illustrated by Whitney Martin


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: This story is narrated by a spirited young girl who is living with her Aunt Dane (not her real aunt) for a while, until her mother is able to care for her again. She experiences the emotional ups and downs of living in an unfamiliar home and being separated from her mother.













Families Change by Julie Nelson, illustrated by Mary Gallagher


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. They need to understand that they can remember and value their birth family and love their new family, too. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.


Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: When Lonnie Collins Motion "Locomotion" was seven years old, his life changed forever. Now he's eleven, and his life is about to change again. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. And suddenly, Lonnie has a whole new way to tell the world about his life, his friends, his little sister Lili, and even his foster mom, Miss Edna, who started out crabby but isn’t so bad after all. Jacqueline Woodson’s novel-in-poems is humorous, heartbreaking . . . a triumph.









The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's disliked them all. She has a reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable, and that’s the way she likes it. So when she's sent to live with Mrs. Trotter and William Ernest—by far the strangest family yet—she knows it’s only a temporary problem.


Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work and get out of there fast. She’s determined to no longer be a foster kid. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. But unfortunately, the plan doesn’t work out quite as she hoped it would….






Free Verse by Sarah Dooley


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: When her brother dies in a fire, Sasha Harless has no one left, and nowhere to turn. After her father died in the mines and her mother ran off, he was her last caretaker. They’d always dreamed of leaving Caboose, West Virginia together someday, but instead she’s in foster care, feeling more stuck and broken than ever.


But then Sasha discovers family she didn’t know she had, and she finally has something to hold onto, especially sweet little Mikey, who’s just as broken as she is. Sasha even makes her first friend at school, and is slowly learning to cope with her brother’s death through writing poetry, finding a new way to express herself when spoken words just won’t do. But when tragedy strikes the mine her cousin works in, Sasha fears the worst and takes Mikey and runs, with no plans to return. In this sensitive and poignant portrayal, Sarah Dooley shows us that life, like poetry, doesn’t always take the form you intend.


The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Ten-year-old Ada has never left her one-room apartment. Her mother is too humiliated by Ada’s twisted foot to let her outside. So when her little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the war, Ada doesn’t waste a minute—she sneaks out to join him.


So begins a new adventure of Ada, and for Susan Smith, the woman who is forced to take the two kids in. As Ada teaches herself to ride a pony, learns to read, and watches for German spies, she begins to trust Susan—and Susan begins to love Ada and Jamie. But in the end, will their bond be enough to hold them together through wartime? Or will Ada and her brother fall back into the cruel hands of their mother?


This masterful work of historical fiction is equal parts adventure and a moving tale of family and identity—a classic in the making.


Waiting to Forget by Sheila Kelly Welch


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: T.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window. But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents--Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son. Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.


Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, 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.


But when they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they’ve travelled for has already been adopted, and literally within minutes are faced with having to choose from six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury, and there’s no way to control it, or its power.


From camels rooting through garbage like raccoons, to eagles being trained like hunting dogs, to streets that are more pothole than pavement, Half a World Away is Cynthia Kadohata’s latest spark of a novel.


One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: Twelve-year-old Carley Connors can take a lot. Growing up in Las Vegas with her fun-loving mother, she's learned to be tough. But she never expected a betrayal that would land her in a foster care. When she's placed with the Murphys, a lively family with three boys, she's blindsided. Do happy families really exist? Carley knows she could never belong in their world, so she keeps her distance.


It's easy to stay suspicious of Daniel, the brother who is almost her age and is resentful she's there. But Mrs. Murphy makes her feel heard and seen for the first time, and the two younger boys seem determined to work their way into her heart. Before she knows it, Carley is protected the boys from a neighborhood bully and even teaching Daniel how to play basketball. Then just when she's feeling like she could truly be one of the Murphys, news from her mother shakes her world.


Dear Wonderful You, Letters to Adopted & Fostered Youth by Diane René Christian


purchase: Amazon


Synopsis: A powerful book filled with thoughtful and inspiring letters. This anthology was written by a global community of adult adoptees and adults who were fostered. Each letter was penned to the upcoming generation of adopted and fostered youth.


The literary mission of "Dear Wonderful You" is for all adopted or fostered youth to feel embraced and guided by the incredible letters contained inside. The contributors want every young reader to know they have a network of support who "get it," "get them," and have been in their shoes.


CONTRIBUTORS:


JoAnne Bennett,Thomas Park Clement, Brenda M. Cotter, Charlotte Cotter, Laura Dennis, Peter Dodds, Mei-Mei Akwai Ellerman PhD, Ming Foxweldon, Suzanne Gilbert, Rosita Gonzalez, Lynn Grubb, Lee Herrick, Soojung Jo, Jeff Leinaweaver PhD, J.S. London, Dan Matthews, Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao, Kaye S. Pearse, Karen Pickell, Jasmine Renee, Matthew Salesses, Liz Semons, Lucy Chau Lai-Tuen, May Silverstein, Joe Soll LCSW, Julie Stromberg, Amanda H.L. Transue-Woolston, Angela Tucker