Books for children in foster care

I feel there is a dearth of books on foster care, particularly those written for children. Here is a list I’ve gathered of a few that our family has enjoyed.

Maybe Days: a book for children in foster care

By Wilgocki, Wright, and Geis
Informational, 2002

Maybe Days addresses the many questions children in foster care may have. It gently coaches children into the acceptance of “maybe” as a holding answer for lots of things in life during a difficult transition period when no one knows the final answers.

Kids Need to Be Safe: a book for children in foster care

By Julie Nelson
Informational, 2005

The most important job a kid has is being a kid! This book places the emphasis of the foster care story right back where it belongs: on the safety and protection of little people.

I’m Happy-Sad Today: making sense of mixed-together feelings

By Britain and Rivera
Fiction, 2019

An aberration on my list: I have not yet held a copy of this book, but I’ve seen it highly recommended.

Although not written specifically for foster care situations, it is designed to help children (and the adults in their lives) to find words for the complexity of emotions life can bring, and to learn to accept feelings for what they are: just feelings, and okay.

Reagandoodle and Little Buddy: The True Story of a Labradoodle and His Toddler Best Friend 

By Sandi Swiridoff with Wendy Dunham
Nonfiction, 2018

Sweet story with many accompanying photographs of a very cute duo: a little boy and his doggie. This book was given to our family by our friend Joanna Schlabach.

The War that Saved My Life

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Historical fiction, 2016

I reviewed this book once before, but it bears mentioning again.

Based on the evacuation of children from London in WWII, Ada’s story explores belonging and home and what it means to let go of a painfully misshapen identity. I love the kindness of the foster mother, Sarah Smith.

Addendum: As with all books, please preview before handing to your children to ensure your comfort level. Sarah Smith’s history of lesbianism is alluded to (not predominant), and there is mild violence and danger.

Counting by 7s

By Holly Goldberg Sloan
Fiction, 2014

I very much enjoyed the story of Willow Chance. You may have to turn a blind eye to a few unlikely characters, unfinished pieces, and improbable twists in the plot, but it’s a good tale and worth reading: the coping story of a girl twice-uprooted.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

By Katherine Paterson
Fiction, 2004

Jaded by the system and tired of bouncing from home to home, eleven-year-old Gilly decides to take matters into her own hands.

The movie is also worth watching! but please preview before sharing with children.

I’m interested to hear what other books you’d add to the list. Has anyone owned the book Love You From Right Here? I stumbled across it online, and think it looks very special: a special keepsake book for children moving in and out of a home.

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Sarah Beiler
4 years ago

Oh, thanks for this list. I too like The Great Gilly Hopkins. The book, that its: I never saw the movie. I recently read The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. It’s a 5th to 7th grade reading level and in my opinion, appropriate for that age group. It does have some less-then-ideal language, but nothing so horrible that I wouldn’t let my child read it. It does well at exploring the emotions that a foster child experiences. It also does well at describing the perplexity of the foster child’s friends who were in a stable family and couldn’t understand the foster child. I loved, loved the ending.

4 years ago

My daughter has enjoyed the Keystone Stables series by Martha Hubler.

Ohio Mom
4 years ago

A well-written fiction book, ‘One for the Murphys” by Linda Hunt. The book says for ages 9 and up.

4 years ago

“A Mother for Choco” a hard toddler book is a favorite here at our house. I can’t find it at the moment or I’d give you the author too.

4 years ago

I’m so happy to see your list! Here’s a link to another list I’ve been wanting to check out. I was so happy to see that two books were on both lists 🙂

Edna Yoder
4 years ago

I know this one isn’t specifically for foster children, but for those littlest ones whom we are so privileged to love for at least a while, I love to read to them that dear old classic, A Home For a Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. Having read it first to our foster children, and now to our foster grandchildren, I think it a most fitting and appropriate story for them. I read it often with my heart in my throat and tears very close. Our one-year-old foster granddaughter wants it read to her every time she comes to our house. The way she turns around and watches my face so intently while I read leads me to believe she understands what my heart is saying to her. “Can I come in? he said to the bunny. Yes, said the bunny. And so he did. And that was his home.” Oh, Jesus, keep Your hand over them.

4 years ago

I am currently reading “Good Night, Mr Tom” So far I’m enjoying it. It’s very similar the “The War that Saved My Life” except it’s an abused boy who’s taken in by a crusty (yet soft underneath) widower.

Dawn Weaver
4 years ago

Hi Shari,
I’m helping to plan an arts and crafts bazaar fundraiser in Lancaster PA on September 28th. Our focus is on adoption and we plan to have a resource table. I’m wondering if I could have your permission to print your list for that. no obligations! Thanks, Dawn
(You may gladly contact me directly at d******[email protected])

Linda Horst
4 years ago

Hi Shari. I enjoyed your list of book recommendations for “emerging readers” as published on The Dock on September 13. I would like to keep/print the list for a reference guide as I choose books for my children. I’m wondering if you happen to have the list available as a printable? No worries if you don’t; I can manually make my own. It will just take a bit more time.

Also, I want to add to that list the books you mention here on this post. My children have friends who are fostered and/or adopted and I appreciate resources that help them understand the world their friends are from, and give them some awareness of the challenges those children face. Thanks in advance.

4 years ago
Reply to  Linda Horst

Hi Linda, thanks for asking. Unfortunately, I do not. That is a good idea to include in another book recommendation post – thanks for the suggestion.

[…] few months ago, I shared with you a list of books for children in foster care. Today I have another short list for you, of supportive resources that branch a bit farther […]

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