Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents

A list of some of the children’s books that have been a great resource for us as foster parents.

Children’s books hold a special place in our life.  Aaron’s Mom is a children’s librarian, and a variety of children’s books were always available to read in his house when he was growing up.  One book, “Where the Wild Things Are”, which according to his parents, he memorized all of the words in the book before he could read, played such a significant part of Aaron’s childhood that he now has a page of the book tattooed to him.  At Jewell’s house, “The Chronicles of Narnia”  was an ever present theme around the house and her Mom has a replica Sword of Rhindon hanging on her wall.

Children’s books can be a powerful parenting tool.  Often, you can use a kids book to help them learn to read, develop their critical thinking skills, teach life lessons, learn about feelings, or just relax and enjoy a story before bed. Over the years, children’s books have become more progressive. There is seemingly a book about everything, and featuring a vast variety of characters.  However, as we have been raising kiddos in our home, at times we have found it difficult to find books directly related to children in foster care, including books with foster children as the central character, or books about many of the difficult issues foster children experience.

The following is a list of books that we have found and read to some of our kiddos. We have have found them to be very helpful. These are not typical children’s books. These books will help you talk to your kiddos about all of their big feelings and help them open up to you about trauma they have experienced.  Many of these books are directly related to foster care, but some are aimed toward helping kids understand trauma, abuse, and what is and is not appropriate.  Even if you don’t have foster kids, or kids who have experienced trauma, some of the books may help your kids understand and empathize with kiddos in different circumstances.

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care

Maybe Days: A Book for Children In Foster Care
Maybe Days

This is the most powerful book in our arsenal. We would recommend putting this book in a welcome box for new placements in your home, and just have one on hand in your house as well. We like this book because it talks about all of the important people in a foster child’s life. It respects the bio-parents and leaves it open for interpretation on what the reason is that parents need time to work on their problems.  It helps explain, in terms kids can understand, what roles the various grown ups in their life have (parents, foster parents, CW, lawyer, judge, etc.), as well as the role of the kiddo…just being a kid and being safe and loved.

Healing Days: A Guide for Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma

Kids Need to be Safe
Healing Days

This is the follow-up to Maybe Days and is geared towards kids who have experienced trauma. The book is well written, in easy to understand language for kids, and has engaging illustrations. The book follows four kids who have each experienced their own trauma in life and discusses different coping mechanisms that they use to overcome their trauma and just try to be a kid again.

Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care (Kids Are Important)

Cover of Kids Need to Be Safe
Kids Need to Be Safe

A great book for explaining to your kiddos why some kids need to have foster parents.  It uses amazing illustrations and easy to understand language to explain to kids that sometimes their parents are not able to care for them and keep them safe, and so they may need to live with relatives or foster parents.  It goes into great length to reassure children that they are not in foster care because they are “bad” and it is not “their fault”.  Most of all, it explains that kids need to be safe, and that the adults will keep the kids safe so the kids need to focus on being kids.

A Terrible Thing Happened

Cover of A Terrible Thing Happened
A Terrible Thing Happened

This one is great for introducing therapy and how to talk about the trauma children may have experienced. The main character is a cute raccoon who is very engaging for children.  The trauma that he has witnessed/experienced is always illustrated as an indiscernible thought bubble, allowing kids to get the meaning without having to dive into details.  The clouded memory also helps kids project their own trauma and memories into the book, which can lead to some very emotional conversations.  The unclear portrayal of a memory in the book can also be very relatable to kiddos, because often they know something terrible happened, but they are not exactly sure what it was or how to explain it.  The book discussed how talking about “the terrible thing” with a therapist or a safe adult can help you with your emotions.

Do You Have a Secret? (Let’s Talk About It!)

Do You Have A Secret
Do You Have A Secret

When you need to give your kids a push in order for them to disclose things to you, this book can really help. This book helps kids decipher a good secret from a bad one, even if the person who told you to keep the secret was an adult.  Surprise birthday parties? Good Secret! An adult hurts you and tells you not to tell anyone? Bad Secret!  The book is evenly balanced between good and bad secrets, so you and the kids don’t get bogged down in the heaviness of a bad secret.  The book can also be very interactive, allowing your kids to decide if it is a good secret and bad secret. Sometimes, after reading the book, your kiddo might want to talk to you about a bad secret they have been keeping.

Please Tell! A child’s story about sexual abuse

Please Tell! A Child's story about sexual abuse
Please Tell!

If this is what you and your kiddos are having to process, this book is powerful. There is no easy way to talk to your kiddo about abuse, let alone sexual abuse, but this book definitely helps to start the conversation. It is told in the first person by a 9-year old child, about a horrible time when she was four.  It is real, it is honest, and it is personable for children. The illustrations look like crayon drawings by a 9-year old. It builds on the Do you have a secret?  premise of good secrets and bad secrets, and how you need to tell safe adults your bad secrets.  It also talks about the struggles of surviving sexual abuse, the difficulties it creates, basic coping mechanisms, and that it can and should be better for them. This book is heavy, and is difficult to read because of the issues it discusses, but if you need it, it is a great tool.

The Skin You Live In

The cover of The Skin You Live In
The Skin You Live In

We purchased this book because we have had many children who came from homes or rural areas where they did not experience a lot of diversity. We live in an urban community with a lot of diversity (for Portland) and want them to know that diversity is a great thing!  What prompted us to purchase this book was the day our caseworker enrolled our kiddos in our local school.  It is an amazing school that provides incredible support to the community and the children enrolled.  When the CW brought our kiddos back to our house after enrollment, they asked “why are there so many brown kids at the school” and stated “we should call that the brown kid school”.  These kids were curious, not racist, but at the same time, they needed some context and information. This book was a basic introduction into diversity and acceptance. After a couple weeks at school, race is no longer a factor… cooties are. Better? Maybe. Perfect? No. We are working on it.

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care

Cover of To the End of June
To the End of June

This book is a must read for adults interested in being a foster parent, supporting foster children, supporting foster parents, or are just interested in having a better understanding of the foster care system. We both read this book, as well as Aaron’s mom. It gave us a inside look at all aspects of foster care, foster families, foster children, and the bio-parents. We liked this book because it was the most in-depth as well as a non-religious resource that we could find. It discusses the foster care system in various different cities and states in the U.S, giving you very stark and powerful statistics about the success and failings of the system.  Along with statistics and legal nuances, To the End of June also gives you a very personal and intimate look into the lives of those participating in the foster care system, as it tells the story of bio-parents, foster parents, foster children, and survivors of the foster care system. If you are new to foster care or know someone who is thinking about it this book makes a great gift.

These books have been a great resource for us and we wanted to write this post to share them with others who may be looking for tools or support for talking about difficult topics with their children.

Thanks for reading, if you have questions or comments, feel free to post them in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.  To receive updates when a new post is published, click the “Follow” button, we appreciate your interest in our journey.

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2 thoughts on “Books For Foster Kids And Foster Parents”

  1. This is a great list. Aaron and Jewell have inspired me to look for other books that could be added to the list. I recently read, ” Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live With Their Parents” by Janice Levy. It lends itself to having conversations with kids about the longing they have to see their bio parents and the disappointment they feel when a visitation falls through. It is available through Multnomah County Library as are many of the books on the list. Great article!

  2. Hi! I also have a list for foster families, though a bit older.

    1. I just read the Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson and found out it’s about a foster kid. I’ve always heard of this book title but didn’t know the setting. Protagonist is a super clever girl.

    2. MUST READ: Three Little Words, a memoir by foster alumna and advocate Ashley Rhodes-Courter. Ashley was in care for a decade, then adopted in 1998 at 12. Required #OwnVoices reading for foster parents who are adopting non-infants. She writes a lot from her ‘child’ perspective and is incredibly insightful and helps you understand why she behaved how she did.

    3. Similar vein, former foster kid blogger Looney Tunes has a lot of insight on trauma of growing up in care and the multitudes of crappy FPs out there and helps me understand why a child wouldn’t trust me even though _I’m_ “not like that”.

    4. Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis. Not so sure about the depictions of care from a foster kid perspective, but the author grew up as a foster sibling and it’s a great book (the only book?) from that perspective.

    5. Also, RISE magazine for stories by parents who have / had children in foster care.

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