The best children’s books for foster and adoptive families

Who am I?

As a birth, foster, adoptive, and pseudo mom to many children, I know firsthand how hard it is to find quality literature that reflects their experience and gives them skills for their own life journey. As a therapist, certified in trauma and resilience, having spent many years in social services, I also see the lack of resources available to caregivers, teachers, and counselors. It's my passion to help remove shame, build resilience, and reclaim hope in the lives of each member of these families. I’ve done this through a TEDx talk on the power of story on the brain, authored multiple books, speak regularly, offer trainings, and private parent coaching.

I wrote...

Speranza's Sweater: A Child's Journey Through Foster Care and Adoption

By Marcy Pusey,

Book cover of Speranza's Sweater: A Child's Journey Through Foster Care and Adoption

What is my book about?

Kids deserve a safe place to live and grow and learn. For some kids, this means living with foster or adoptive parents. 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.

This heart-warming story provides hope and support for the many mixed emotions a child will experience during their foster and adoption journey, through the unraveling and re-weaving of a favorite sweater. Speranza’s Sweater includes a dictionary of words to empower children and their carers by understanding the language used around them.

The books I picked & why

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We Can Talk About It: A Conversation Starter for Foster and Adoptive Families

By Whitney Bunker, Jena Holliday (illustrator),

Book cover of We Can Talk About It: A Conversation Starter for Foster and Adoptive Families

Why this book?

As a therapist, longtime foster/adoption advocate, and fost/adopt mama, I’m always looking for books that help adults have healthy, child-driven conversations with kids. More than most, kids in foster care and adoptive placements need safe spaces to feel their feelings, navigate life changes, and experience caring adults. Debut author Whitney Bunker brings her personal experiences as a foster/adoptive mama and Executive Director / Co-Founder of City Without Orphans to do just that. We Can Talk About It shows kids that the healthy, supportive adults in their lives are safe places for the questions that will come, while simultaneously modeling for adults how to be that safe place. This book is just one of many beautiful ways Bunker and her organization seek to serve hurting but hopeful families.

No Matter What: A Foster Care Tale

By Josh Shipp, Yuliya Pankratova (illustrator), David Tieche (contributor)

Book cover of No Matter What: A Foster Care Tale

Why this book?

Josh Shipp, a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate and TEDx speaker brings us this beautiful mostly autobiographical story of a squirrel who needs a family, but also kinda doesn’t want one. But also does. The quality of fost/adopt books for children has been lacking in the past, but Shipp takes fost/adopt literature to a whole new level with engaging, gorgeous illustrations and the perfect balance of humor and depth. I love that he’s a former foster youth with a mission to help kids find their one caring adult (and for adults to be one!) This is a must-have for any foster or adoptive family’s shelf (and anyone who knows, works with, teaches, counsels, or interacts with children in this situation). 

Love You From Right Here

By Jamie Sandefer, Pamela Goodman (illustrator),

Book cover of Love You From Right Here

Why this book?

Sandefer, a foster mama herself, wanted to give other foster parents words of comfort to give to their own hurting foster children. Love You From Right Here does just that. Kids in foster care have had so many choices taken from them. I love how this book gives some back. Sandefer has created a place where children can see another child’s agency protected and cared for, where the adult invites (instead of forces) and the child responds when he or she is ready. Sandefer’s story does a beautiful job of illustrating that trust and safety aren’t to be rushed, but developed through patience, kindness, and empathy. Kids and adults need this book.

The Invisible String

By Patrice Karst, Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (illustrator),

Book cover of The Invisible String

Why this book?

While this book isn’t directly about fostering or adopting, it deals with a theme that every foster child, adopted child, birth parent, foster parent, and adoptive parent will experience: attachment. The Invisible String gives kids and their adults language and visuals for framing separation as being held together by an invisible string, always connecting us to the ones we love, regardless of the cause of separation. This book is a wonderful tool for imagining what keeps us connected and helping children to experience their traveling “bond.” This “string” not only plays into their relationships with birth family but new family as well! These kids often develop separation anxiety with new caregivers, and this book gives them a sense of connection while they’re at school, on visits, Sunday school, wherever. 

A Mother for Choco

By Keiko Kasza,

Book cover of A Mother for Choco

Why this book?

A Mother for Choco is a classic in the world of adoption books. Told through the lens of a bird looking for his mama, children learn that not all family members look alike! So many foster and adoptive children (and even the children of multi-ethnic birth families!) struggle to identify their place in a family that looks different from them. This story helps to shape the idea that family members can have different hair color, skin color, height, and other varying features from the parents or siblings of the home—and still be family. This is so powerful and important for kids developing their sense of identity and belonging, regardless of their origin.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in foster care, adoption, and hippos?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about foster care, adoption, and hippos.

Foster Care Explore 25 books about foster care
Adoption Explore 15 books about adoption
Hippos Explore 7 books about hippos

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Great Gilly Hopkins, One for the Murphys, and The Unforgettable Logan Foster #1 if you like this list.