We love reading in our house—from growing imagination and concentration to building vocabulary and emotional empathy; books introduce our littles and bigs to so much! Particularly as a fostering family, books have helped us walk a sometimes complicated journey. Stories have a way of leading to conversation, and conversation helps bring healing.
Are you looking for some good reads to help the littles in your family? I have some recommendations! Side note—even though these are mostly geared at younger kids, have your bigs read them to their siblings but be nearby. See how they interact together and jump in with subtle questions afterward to see what both the littles and bigs thought of the stories.
By Julie Nelson
All families change over time. A baby is born. A grown-up gets married. For children in foster care, change might mean new foster parents or a newly adopted Mom or Dad. Sometimes, when these changes occur, children can wonder—are these changes my fault; am I doing something wrong? I love that this book lets children voice these thoughts. There is space to remember and value their birth family and love a new family, too.
Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. As a bonus, it also includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers. It’s a great book if your family is in transition—which for foster families, that’s almost all the time!
By Keiko Kasza
Family is about love, no matter how different parents and children may be, adopted or not.
In this story, 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. Mrs. Bear certainly doesn’t look like him, but she starts to do just the things a mommy would do. When she brings him home, he meets her other children—a piglet, a hippo, and an alligator! Choco finds his place in this new kind of family—one that doesn’t look like him but feels just right.
Do you have a blended, multiracial, or unique family dynamic? I love that Choco finds comfort in being loved by someone who doesn’t look like him. Top that off with a well-blended group of siblings, and you have a snapshot of a lot of foster and adoptive families. And this book is just fun!
By Jan Levinson Gilman
If you have an animal lover or a special needs kiddo, consider this one. 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. He feels like it’s all his fault. Did he do something wrong? He doesn’t feel “good” anymore.
Sometimes, children with special needs don’t see themselves in other children or characters in stories, but often, animals can be a welcomed relief, an open door to communicating. They empathize with animals and see hurts and pain that otherwise they don’t know how to express. Seeing a dog change homes might be a catalyst to help your child heal and process. If you have a puppy lover in your life that has changed homes a time or two, this is the book for you.
By Marcy Pusey
Children deserve a safe place to live and grow and learn. For some of our kiddos, this means living with foster or adoptive parents. This book chronicles one child’s experience through the foster and adoptive system. Speranza wears her sweater everywhere, hanging onto the last memories of her birth home until it’s threadbare. Like her unraveled sweater, Speranza must weave together a new story, bringing threads from her past and strands from her present into a future of love, family, and the true meaning of home.
As an adoptive mom, I want to hang onto as much information and pieces of my son’s past as I can. If he wants to read notes from his birth mother, see pictures of his birth father, or has questions in the future, I want to be ready. This story gives light to the fact that a child’s past is part of their story. Even if the material items disappear, the good memories and experiences can still stay.
By Matthew Paul Turner
We all crave to know and discover who we are and why we’re here. That can be confusing for someone whose life has been flipped upside down as they enter foster care and are removed from all they’ve ever known. How do I fit in? Why am I here? This book beautifully gives children assurance that they were created with purpose, as they learn about their gifts and how they fit into God’s divine plan.
I love the way it is written and illustrated! It is playful, has charming rhymes, and the pages are filled with so many colors and images that will encourage and engage your child. In our house, we’ve had so many great conversations about the unique talents, interests, and ways my son is different from his siblings and classmates. He also loves that the main character is African American like him; “Look Mom, Brown skin like me!”
By Jami Kaeb
Ok, I’m a little biased on this one, but I love the Who Loves series! This series is for babies to pre-teens! Children in foster care typically have many individuals moving in and out of their lives. This constant change can lead to the false belief that no one loves them—it doesn’t even seem like anyone will stay with them for the long term. This series is designed specifically to give children a different perspective on the people they interact with while they are in foster care.
The overarching message to the child is: You are worthy, you are loved, and we are all here for you! I love that these books let you identify and specifically name individuals in your child’s life. Read more about the impact of the Who Loves series for one family.
Shannon is a wife and busy mother of four with a passion for serving and helping others. After experiencing the foster care system as a foster mom, her eyes were opened to the needs of the foster care community.
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