If there is one thing all of my girls can agree on, it is that they love to be read to. I am extraordinarily grateful for that since I am a bookworm myself. They aren’t quite often, but one time that you will find them absolutely still and quiet is when we are cuddled up reading together. I love finding new books to read to them that connect to them on a personal level. Nothing makes me quite so happy as being cozied up with my littles on the couch reading a book out loud to them. I love it even more if I can read something to them that will enlighten, educate, or entertain them. These books do all three in varying degrees. The topic of adoption is a difficult one for kids to grasp sometimes. It is bound to come with feelings of rejection or at least confusion over what happened. Each of these books does a wonderful job of explaining adoption. While each story is slightly different, the overall theme of “you are wanted and loved” is overarching. I have personally read each of these books and can vouch for their kid-friendliness and lack of offensive themes. Some parents may take issue with the way an author portrayed something but that can be true for just about any book. Here are my top eight children’s books in no particular order.
- First up is The Day We Met You by Phoebe Koehler. It describes just what the title says, the day they met their baby. It is a little dated picture-wise; it was published in the 90s which you can tell by the car seat illustration. Some of the reviews on Amazon criticize the fact the parents didn’t seem prepared for their child. However, it matched our adoption story so closely that my 6-year-old asked if I told the librarians the story and they made the book. She doesn’t quite understand yet how books are made so that seemed totally logical to her. I explained that no, it was about a different little girl, but wasn’t it neat that it seemed like our story? She agreed. The pictures are not my favorite, but it is such a sweet book. It focuses on domestic infant adoption. It also reads a bit like it could have been a foster situation simply because the family rushed to get things together before the baby came, which, if you don’t know what age your child will be when you bring them home, you would do. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars simply because the illustrations and color scheme aren’t the greatest. Absolutely pick this up as a gift for an adoptive family with young kids.
- Next one on the list is We Belong Together by Todd Parr.
This one is cute. The illustrations are simple and colorful. If I have a complaint, it is that my girls think it is “babyish” which makes them reluctant to sit down and read it. It does look similar to some board books we have had in the past, so in that regard, I agree with them. This book did a great job of showcasing all sorts of families, including single parents. Not every adoption book takes the time to do that so I appreciated the effort immensely here. My people don’t want to read this one again, and since they are the target audience I can only give this one 4 out of 5 stars.
- Number three on the list is Mommy’s Heart by Janelle Olivelra. In the author’s own words, “It is the start of dialogue in explaining adoption to your baby.” The illustrations are vibrant, and the book is adorable. My very literal children were confused by the baby in the woman’s heart. I love the idea behind it, but unfortunately, my kids were so distracted by the baby in the heart (Wait, wouldn’t she die if a baby was in her heart? Wouldn’t it explode? How did the baby get there?!), they missed the point. I suspect if you don’t have high IQ, low common sense kiddos around, this book would be a great one to have around. As for me, If I have to explain one more time what a metaphor is, I will lose my mind and my heart may actually explode. That said, I give this one an A for effort, 4 out of 5 stars for readability, and a great message.
- Fourth is this instant classic Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born By Jamie Lee Curtis. The little girl on the cover, with the sweet fur shawl, the puppy, and the crown reminds me so much of my girls it makes my heartache. This book is another one that takes the journey of what it was like for the parents when they got the news their baby had arrived. I will never get tired of these stories. The pictures are the right amount of whimsical without being too childish. Though the adoption story may not exactly match every single person’s, it is so good. It was one of the first books recommended to me when we were adopting, and I understand why. “Tell me again about the night I was born. Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents. Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms.” Gah, it makes me cry if I think about it too hard. I rate this one 5 out of 5 but readers be warned: If you are a sappy, emotional mess, this book will make you cry like a baby. Bring tissues just in case.
- Porcupette Finds a Family by Vanita Oelschlager was on my “to read” list for a while, but it was usually checked out at the library, so I didn’t get a chance to read it until now. I’m glad I took the time. This is the only one so far that uses animals instead of people. I personally thought that was a great call since a porcupine sticking other animals is a spot-on visual representation of what adopted kids with attachment issues might do with their words and actions. The whole way through this book, my oldest daughter was cheering on the little porcupette. “You can trust her! She’ll still love you!” she insisted. I think my girl understood what was being communicated. To say I love this book is a gross understatement. Even better, the proceeds from the sale of the book help children in foster care. It is fantastic.
I highly recommend this book especially for parents whose kids came to them a little bit older and might struggle with attachment. It was emotionally difficult for my kids because there is no resolution to where the Mama Porcupine ever went. Was she killed by a bigger animal? Did she get hit by a car? Did she just wander away and not come home? We’ll never know. It was that ambiguity that stressed my girls out. However, this perfectly mirrors some children’s adoption experiences. Mom just disappeared and they don’t know why or if she’ll be back ever. I loved reading this book to my little
porcupettes girls and seeing their reactions. I would read it yourself first so you don’t get caught off guard by anything that might upset your child. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars, but it should come with a warning label or something.
- I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond was the first adoption book gifted to us after we had adopted the first time. I cry every single time I read it. I wish I was kidding or exaggerating because the amount this book makes me cry is dumb. Seriously. This is another one that is too cute for words. I will be honest though, I liked the illustrations only slightly more than the ones in The Day We Met You. They are sweet and go fine with the story but there is a line in the book that goes something like, “I have light brown fur and you have dark brown fur. Does that matter?” and looking at the cover there is basically no difference. Usually when kids ask questions like that it is because there is a stark difference, not just that mom has a bit of a tan. Altogether though it is a lovely book. I give this 5 out of 5, but again, if you’re a crier, bring tissues.
- God Found Us You by Lisa Tawn Bergren
is another super sweet animal story about God bringing a baby into a family through adoption. From the back cover: “As Little Fox gets ready for bed, Mama Fox tells him the miraculous story of his arrival. First, there was the waiting: ‘I’d go up to the cliffs and watch for you,’ Mama Fox tells her child. Then the mother who had Little Fox made the big decision to give him away: ‘I think she prayed like crazy that you would be safe, Little Fox. I think she prayed for me as much as I prayed for her.’ Then, finally, both their prayers were answered, the day God delivered Little Fox to Mama Fox: ‘When God found us you, you made me the happiest mama in the world.’” I’m not overly fond of the “when the mother who gave you away” line. As a whole, the adoption world is trying to move away from language that makes it sound transactional. That complaint aside, I did enjoy this book. We picked up God Gave Us You from the same author by accident and ended up reading a book about a polar bear family that gives birth, so I was confused about how it was adoption-related. It wasn’t. This is the book that was actually recommended. I would have to guess I’m not the only adoptive mama left scratching her head in confusion over the two very similar titles. So, some negative adoption language, and a similar title that it could be confused for that has nothing to do with adoption leaves me giving my lowest score so far of 3 out of 5. Cute book, cute illustrations, nice message but it missed the mark a bit for me.
- The Story of My Open Adoption: A Storybook for Children Adopted at Birth by Leah Campbell is perfectly direct about what it is and who it is for, and I respect that. It is one of the only books that include birth mother and adoptive family working together in an open adoption. I love that. Because it is specifically for children adopted at birth, it does limit the audience pretty severely which isn’t super smart, but if it works it works.
While I love the illustrations, the cute woodland animals, and the idea behind the book I do not love that the birth family is an entirely different species than the adoptive family. I get it, I just don’t like it very much. All in all, it is a really cute book and if you fall in the narrow demographic for it, you should pick it up. I also give this one 3 out of 5 stars for lack of inclusiveness.
There are dozens of other books to pick from but these were my favorites so far. There are also fantastic books on foster care that have been written in the last few years that I wish I had for my kids when we were still fostering. Amazon is a great resource, but if you’re on a budget your local library can probably get you whatever you want through interlibrary loan. Another great resource is YouTube if you’d like to try before you buy. There are hundreds of videos of people reading these books and others out loud. I was able to view several of them online this way which convinced me that either I needed to own them or that I didn’t need to bother searching for them after all.Considering adoption? Let us help you on your journey to creating your forever family. Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98.