Our ultimate Foster Care Children’s Book list. We sourced all the books we could get our hands on that tell the story of foster care, separation and uncertainty. Here are our current favorites:
- The classic Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki. A book that holds the uncertainty and tension of day-to-day life in foster care. This book is a classic, and was one of the first of this genre published. We value books where kids in foster care have their story narrated and normalized. An additional bonus, the book takes care to offer pictures of kids of all colors and a range of ages.
- A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes. Part of the genius of this book is the way the story line is created to hold that a terrible thing happened and the specifics are not named, leaving kiddos able to imagine their own history or challenges in its place. The drawing of the dark and snarled cloud has always felt such an apt metaphor fo the dark days and painful memories. We like this one for processing big feelings or putting words to dysregulated body energy. Not so much a nighttime book around our home, but beloved nonetheless.
- Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson. The illustrations in this book are simply beautiful. The story line follows a little girl and her Nana going to visit her Dad in prison. There are rituals about what they do when they are visiting her Dad, language around missing him and how life continues on without him in sad and joyful ways. A really wonderful piece of kids literature, and we have read this with kiddos whose parents are in jail, and kiddos whose parents aren’t but family members or loved ones are. This coupled with Sesame Streets Little Children Big Challenges wonderful videos makes for a really great starting point for helping kiddos integrate and have words for what is happening.
- We Belong Together and The Family Book both are by Todd Parr. Really any Todd Parr book would work here, but the story line in The Family Book, of how families help each other stay strong, and how some families match and others don’t is literary magic. The use of animals families and people families is a wonderful touch that allows you to talk about sameness and otherness in a really open and direct way. WE Belong Together is a great description of the messages parents who wanted to adopt can concretely offer to kiddos, especially in older child adoption. The “why did you want to adopt?” can be a complicated conversation and this book helps make it so pure and understandable. The message in all of Todd Parr’s books offers that love is what holds us tight to one another, and any book naming that message is okay in our home.
- These is not specifically foster care related, although given the number of same sex couples fostering and adopting (yay!!) I wanted to throw in some favorites. For the gays, or for the loving families of gays, who want resources to normalize same sex parenting for their kiddos or for relatives:
- Momma, Mommy and Me by Carol Thompson a baby book naming the different ways Momma, Mommy and baby go about their day. Very sweet and bright colorful pictures
- A Tale of Two Mommies by Vanita Oelschlager. A little boy and friends talk about families and they move through wuestions like which Mommy takes you fishing? Which Mommy helps you look for kittens? A nice overview of non-gendered parenting roles.
- Daddy, Poppa and Me by Carol Thompson. Another adorable, brightly colored baby book with sweet rhyming text talking about the things Daddy does and what Poppa does.
- Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson. A children book about the two penguins in the Central Park Zoo who fell in love and raised an orphaned egg the zookeeper placed in their nest. I had to do a few trial runs with this book before I could read it to Mr. T as I would tear up every time I got I read this sweet book. THEY JUST WANTED WITH THEIR WHOLE PENGUIN HEARTS TO BE PENGUIN DADDIES.
- Kids Need To Be Safe by Julie Nelson a book that talks honestly and with an age appropriate narrative flow about removal, unsafe homes and has pictorial descriptions of kiddos living with birth parents. I think the euphemism of “safe homes” or “feeling safe” can be overused with kiddos and is often unclear and vague. I appreciate that his book has pictures and the frame that safety is concrete. It’s a great conversation starter for how our home is the same or different from what kiddos are used to. It helps us frame why we have the rules we do, and what safe means in our home
My current favorite books for the Mamas and Papas in my life:
- I Love you Rituals by: Becky Bailey. A book with an incredible number of fun, playful and attachment supporting games parents and kiddos can play together. There are games for little kiddos and bigger kiddos. When we are having a tough week around here I pick this book up and dig through for a couple ideas to get us all feeling connected and open with each other again.
- Attachment Play: How to solve children's behavior problems with play, laughter, and connection by: Althea Soltzer. Another amazing read that has changed the way I approach discipline and helped lower my general frustration level with my kiddos. It offers playful games as a means for reaching toward connection in the relationship and helping your kiddo get what they need to move on and feel connected, confident and flexible. And not for nothing - her strategies have really worked with so many of the complexly traumatized kiddos we have parented, which is something I rarely say about books I have read.
- Playful Parenting by: Lawrence Cohen. Another book that discuss the importance of play and ways of helping kiddos move through big feelings, roadblocks in the day, jealousy, feelings on insecurity or lack of confidence by engaging playfully and in a connected way with their adults. I go back and re-read this book often when I’m feeling tapped out to help refresh my ideas for how to be the kind of Mama I hope to be.
Traumatic reenactment, sleep difficulties, disorganized behavior and all the other challenges that come from parenting kiddos with broken hearts can weigh so heavily on your soul. I often find myself picking these books up when I need to rekindle my creativity and open heartedness in this parenting gig. Healing is often the slow and brave work of moving forward even when it feels you can’t. These books are my current warm breeze after a long winter, my way of holding ontorenewal and growth and hope.
Foster Mom (The Therapist)