The most recommended books about foster children

Who picked these books? Meet our 38 experts.

38 authors created a book list connected to foster children, and here are their favorite foster children books.
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Book cover of Cuckoo in the Nest

Vince Rockston Author Of Aquila: Can Silvanus Escape That God?

From Vince's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Investigator Nature lover Christian Perfectionist

Vince's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Vince Rockston Why did Vince love this book?

The book is excellently written and very readable. Fran Hill seems to speak from experience.

The book is about fourteen-year-old Jacky, who barely survives under the ‘care’ of her dissolute alcoholic father. So, Social Services move her to a first-time foster family. Their daughter, Amanda, of similar age, resents Jacky’s presence and does her level best to get rid of her.

Ostensibly innocuous actions and remarks vividly reveal the character and feelings of the clashing teenagers and their far-from-innocent parents. Not all the loose ends are tied, but I felt drawn into the complicated family atmosphere and enjoyed discovering their secrets. 

By Fran Hill,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Cuckoo in the Nest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Fresh, authentic and darkly funny. It's a beautifully told story full of warmth and emotion without ever being sentimental - I absolutely loved it' Ruth Hogan, bestselling author of The Keeper of Lost Things

It’s the heatwave summer of 1976 and 14-year-old would be poet Jackie Chadwick is newly fostered by the Walls. She desperately needs stability, but their insecure, jealous teenage daughter isn't happy about the cuckoo in the nest and sets about ousting her.

When her attempts to do so lead to near-tragedy – and the Walls’ veneer of middle-class respectability begins to crumble – everyone in the…


Book cover of All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Nora Raleigh Baskin Author Of Ruby on the Outside

From my list on stories for and about children of incarcerated parents.

Who am I?

There are 2.2 million people behind bars in the United States—more than any other country in the world —in greatly disproportionate demographic numbers. There are mandatory drug sentencing laws that put fathers and mothers, sometimes both, away for many years regardless of their actual direct involvement in a crime. I wrote this book because no matter how one feels about these laws, or these crimes, if 2.2 million adults are incarcerated, there are at least as many children without mothers or fathers. Having lost my mother to suicide there are many connections, stigma, shame, and the hardship of reconciling a mother’s love in spite of the events that took her away from me.

Nora's book list on stories for and about children of incarcerated parents

Nora Raleigh Baskin Why did Nora love this book?

On the other end of the spectrum is a light and funny, extremely well-written, and poignant middle grade novel about a boy growing up with his mother inside prison walls. (Full disclosure, I cried at the end of the book.)

While it’s not realism, it brings attention to its readers, that the law is not perfect, and often the wrong people are in prison. The happy ending helps make this realization palpable for young readers, who nonetheless will get the message about criminal justice and being quick to judge. 

By Leslie Connor,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Junior Library Guild Selection * Kids' Indie Next List Pick From Leslie Connor, award-winning author of Waiting for Normal and Crunch, comes a soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful story, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me. Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them…


Book cover of Just a Regular Boy

Laura Drake Author Of Amazing Gracie

From Laura's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Optimistic Encourager Persistent (my husband calls it stubborn, but who listens to him?) Writer who deepens with emotion Thrill seeking Motorcycle chick Avid reader

Laura's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Laura Drake Why did Laura love this book?

One of her best. And since I've read most of them, that's saying a lot. Wonderfully rich story, but what I especially loved, was the wisdom woven in about what it's like to be human, and how there is still good in the world.

Her books restore my faith in humanity. So, so very good.

By Catherine Ryan Hyde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Just a Regular Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An orphaned boy raised by a survivalist wends his way into the real world in an emotional novel about hope, fears, and found family by New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde.

Out there is chaos, the collapse of society, and so much to be afraid of. All that matters is freedom.

That's what Remy Blake has been taught by his survivalist father. Raised off the grid in the middle of nowhere, his own survival skills not yet honed, Remy is days shy of his eighth birthday when his father unexpectedly dies. As seasons pass, supplies run out, and…


Book cover of The Panopticon

Olivia Levez Author Of The Island

From my list on to survive desert islands, life, and everything.

Who am I?

Both my books have a survival theme. Whether it’s foraging for mushrooms, wild camping, or trying to survive lockdown, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between endurance and creativity; what happens when humans are pushed to their limits. After teaching English in a secondary school for 25 years, I decided that I wanted to write a book of my own. I hid away in my caravan in West Wales, living off tomato soup and marshmallows, to write The IslandThe books on this list represent the full gamut of survival: stripping yourself raw, learning nature’s lore, healing, falling, getting back up again. Ultimately, to read is to escape into story. To read is to survive.

Olivia's book list on to survive desert islands, life, and everything

Olivia Levez Why did Olivia love this book?

This is the book which most inspired Frances’ voice in The Island. 15-year old Anais is troubled, loving, brilliant, and creative. She is also at a young offenders’ institution named the Panopticon after being found covered in blood at a crime scene. A birthday present from my brother, this book is so powerful, moving, and evocative. It’s written in spiky Midlothian. It’s raw. It’s warm. It’s brutal.

No matter what life throws at her (and there is a lot) Anais finds a way to survive with humour and defiance. I just loved it.

By Jenni Fagan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Panopticon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists

Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais is covered in blood. Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counterculture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade…


Book cover of Small Mercies

Janelle Diller Author Of Mystery of the Thief in the Night: Mexico 1

From my list on with diverse and spunky characters.

Who am I?

My dad was an adventure traveler, so I floated down the Amazon, rode chicken busses in rural Guatemala, and stepped on the Russian Steppes before I ever saw Big Ben. All that adventure as a kid engendered an insatiable curiosity about the amazing diversity of people and cultures in this world. Sadly, when I was growing up, most children’s books didn’t reflect this diversity. Not only should all children be able to see themselves on the pages of the books they read, it’s equally important that kids see children who aren’t just like they are. Consequently, adding cultural and ethnic diversity into kids' lit has become a passion for me. 

Janelle's book list on with diverse and spunky characters

Janelle Diller Why did Janelle love this book?

Mercy stole my heart from the very first page. Although more accurately, it’s Mercy’s eccentric foster aunts who did the initial stealing. Their quirky excuse notes—one says Mercy has “the collywobbles,” another that she can’t participate in inter-house cross-country because she “has a bone in her leg”—is just a taste of the humor to come. The story in this gem from South Africa is complex and surprisingly powerful with its focus on Gandhi’s response to discrimination as he traveled through South Africa and how he lived the Sanskrit word satyagraha, which means truth and polite insistence. I was fascinated by South Africa’s complicated ethnic diversity, not unlike America’s complicated diversity, which made the message of satyagraha even more potent for me. 

By Bridget Krone, Karen Vermeulen (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Small Mercies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Named a Best Middle-Grade Book of 2020 by Kirkus Reviews
2021 Outstanding International Books List, United States Board on Books for Young People
Mercy lives in modern-day Pietermaritzburg, South Africa with her eccentric foster aunts-two elderly sisters so poor, they can only afford one lightbulb. A nasty housing developer is eying their house. And that same house suddenly starts falling apart-just as Aunt Flora starts falling apart. She's forgetting words, names, and even how to behave in public. Mercy tries to keep her head down at school so nobody notices her. But when a classmate frames her for stealing the…


Book cover of Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me

Barbara Haworth-Attard Author Of Theories of Relativity

From my list on homeless youth and the challenges they face.

Who am I?

I am a Canadian middle-grade, YA author, who's always on the lookout for a new story. I have walked into trees while watching an event unfold on a street, sat in coffee shops shamelessly listening to other people's conversations, and talked to strangers to hear their stories. In 2000 I was walking in downtown London and saw a teenage boy sitting on a bench with a hat in front of him collecting money. He became my Dylan. In front of a church in London was a pregnant girl, also collecting money. She became my Amber. I contacted youth services and researched everything I could to find out information on homeless youth. It was quite a journey.

Barbara's book list on homeless youth and the challenges they face

Barbara Haworth-Attard Why did Barbara love this book?

A fictional story of Sara who is placed in foster home after foster home until she ends up with a farm family, The Huddlestons. I could feel Sara’s pain as she is rejected time after time, and feels she belongs nowhere and has no one to care for her. But I believe in hope and will not ever leave a book I have written without hope and this book did that for me. It is a touching novel of love and the meaning of family. 

By Julie Johnston,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

15 year-old Sara Moone has lived in many fos ter homes, having been abandoned by her parents at birth. Sh e protects herself from emotional attachments and her only c onfidant is her computer, through which we learn of her wish to turn 16. '


Book cover of The Season of Styx Malone

Amy Makechnie Author Of Ten Thousand Tries

From my list on with three best friends.

Who am I?

I’m a grown mother now. Also an author. But once upon a time, I was in middle school. I remember the braces, bad hair, being scared to return my lunch tray because boys might look at me while I passed their lunch table. Such angst, and yet I adore middle schoolers - they’re my jam. Fun, funny, exasperating, creative, boisterous, and annoying are all words I’d use to describe the middle school kids I teach and coach. I write down their quotes, shake my head at their antics, and adore their intense friendships. I hope you’ll enjoy these true-to-life middle-grade reads as much as I have!

Amy's book list on with three best friends

Amy Makechnie Why did Amy love this book?

Have you ever dreamed of being someone and somewhere else? I remember being a kid in the summertime when the hot summer in Omaha, Nebraska felt sooooo long and there was nothing to do. Styx Malone (foster child & the cool kid) and brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene are feeling that angst too. To make life more exciting, they concoct a plan to exchange one small thing for something better until they achieve their “wildest dreams” (motorbike). Sometimes it’s the baby sister that’s exchanged for fireworks (I mean, that’s pretty funny, but don’t worry, the baby sister is given back and they get to keep the fireworks). Of course, everything goes awry and gets dangerous and…well, read this book and you’ll be turning the pages at a mad pace, too!

By Kekla Magoon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Season of Styx Malone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

A CORETTA SCOTT KING HONOR BOOK AND THE WINNER OF THE BOSTON GLOBE HORN BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION!

"Extraordinary friendships . . . extraordinary storytelling." --Rita Williams-Garcia, Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award-Winning author of One Crazy Summer

Meet Caleb and Bobby Gene, two brothers embarking on a madcap, heartwarming, one-thing-leads-to-another adventure in which friendships are forged, loyalties are tested . . . and miracles just might happen.

Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town.

Then Caleb…


Book cover of A Place Called Home

James Sie Author Of All Kinds of Other

From James' 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Queer Asian-American Jigsaw puzzle obsessive Food enthusiast Cabbage merchant

James' 3 favorite reads in 2023

James Sie Why did James love this book?

This memoir of the author’s life on the streets, living with a mentally ill mother and his two siblings, is unflinching and harrowing but filled with moments of grace, alternating between hope and despair (though for most of it, despair has the upper hand).

Ambroz is unsparing in recounting events, but he’s never self-pitying or sensationalistic. He shines a light on the plight of the unhoused, especially children—but always with the purpose of creating empathy and action—a real eye-opener.

By David Ambroz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Place Called Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

PORCHLIGHT BESTSELLER
Zibby Owens 2022 Book of the Year

A galvanizing, stirring memoir about growing up homeless and in foster care and rising to become a leading advocate for child welfare, recognized by President Obama as an American Champion of Change.  “You will fall in love with David Ambroz, his beautifully-told, gut-wrenching story, and his great big heart.” (Jeanette Walls, author of The Glass Castle)

“It's impossible to read A Place Called Home and not want to redouble your efforts to fight the systems of poverty that have plagued America for far too long. In this book, David shares his…


Book cover of Lullabies for Little Criminals

Who am I?

My life and work have been profoundly affected by the central circumstance of my existence: I was born into a very large military Catholic family in the United States of America. As a child surrounded by many others in the 60s, I wrote, performed, and directed family plays with my numerous brothers and sisters. Although I fell in love with a Canadian and moved to Canada, my family of origin still exerts considerable personal influence. My central struggle, coming from that place of chaos, order, and conformity, is to have the courage to live an authentic life based on my own experience of connectedness and individuality, to speak and be heard. 

Caitlin's book list on coming-of-age books that explore belonging, identity, family, and beat with an emotional and/or humorous pulse

Caitlin Hicks Why did Caitlin love this book?

A novel with a disarming protagonist who notices small flowers in dirty rugs, peeling wallpaper, and snow-covered sidewalks. Baby (her ‘ironic’ name) observes her marginal existence with her single twenty-something-drug-addicted Dad in Montreal’s red light district with wisdom and optimism.

I loved her voice, her resilience, and the innocence of her character. Accessible and fun to read, I became aware that Baby’s simple observations were exquisitely detailed and had the effect of lifting the prose to a level of insightfulness without being showy.

As a reader, I immediately relaxed in the presence of this charming teen/narrator and her sometimes scary adventures. As a writer, I became addicted. She deals with themes of being human, vulnerable, and yet empathetic. The narrative is fun and suspenseful to read (my level of suspense, ha ha) Also funny! Again, a low-status character who, through her struggles with the day-to-day challenges of being alive, is…

By Heather O'Neill,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Lullabies for Little Criminals as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Baby is twelve years old. Her mother died not long after she was born and she lives in a string of seedy flats in Montreal's red light district with her father Jules, who takes better care of his heroin addiction than he does of his daughter. Jules is an intermittent presence and a constant source of chaos in Baby's life - the turmoil he brings with him and the wreckage he leaves in his wake. Baby finds herself constantly re-adjusting to new situations, new foster homes, new places, new people, all the while longing for stability and a 'normal' life.…


Book cover of Good Me Bad Me

Steena Holmes Author Of The Patient

From my list on that keep you up past your bedtime.

Who am I?

As a teenager, I loved reading past my bedtime, getting lost within a story, then having it fill my dreams and leaving me on the hunt for another book just as good. The best books to read are those that draw me in with their voice and storytelling and leave me needing to turn page after page. Getting in trouble as a kid for reading too late was the best type of trouble to get into and even now, when I need to make a second pot of coffee after a night of reading, I walk away with no regrets. 

Steena's book list on that keep you up past your bedtime

Steena Holmes Why did Steena love this book?

I first listened to this book in audio and immediately bought the print copy. Good Me Bad Me has such a compelling voice that this is a book you will end up reading way past your bedtime. 

The story is told by a fifteen-year-old girl who has gone through so much trauma, your heart breaks…but then it twists, leaving you gasping for air because you can’t believe what just happened. I have read this story over and over again and it still haunts me to this day!

By Ali Land,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Good Me Bad Me as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How far does the apple really fall from the tree when the daughter of a serial killer is placed with a new, normal foster family? Room meets Dexter in Ali Land's Good Me Bad Me, a dark, voice-driven psychological suspense.

Fifteen year old Milly was raised by a serial killer: her mother. When she finally breaks away and tells the police everything about her mother’s crimes and years of abuse, she is given a new identity and placed in an affluent foster family and an exclusive private school. She wrestles with being the daughter of a murderer and the love…