You don’t have to be part of an adoptive family to enjoy these children’s books that celebrate adoption. This list of picture books about adoption don’t just illustrate how much love goes into the process of adopting a child, but also address the complex and intense emotions surrounding the day a family welcomes a new member. This list is a companion to the list of books about families of all types. While making this list I noticed that in most titles the parents are illustrated as white, even if the adoptees weren’t. I would very much like to see more books in which the parents are people of color. (Are you listening, publishers?)
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A Most Unusual Day by Sydra Mallery. Not only is this a wonderfully thoughtful story of a girl anticipating the arrival of a new sibling, but the depiction of a family of color is particularly welcome. Caroline spends the day at school, but nothing really seems to be going quite right. When she meets her parents after school, she sees that they have her new baby sister with them. It is unclear if Caroline is also adopted, making the book more flexible for different family situations. Highly recommended!
The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin. The Chinese have a belief that, “an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all who are destined to be together.” That belief forms the basis of Lin’s book. A young Chinese girl asks her white parents to tell her a favorite story. The story is that of a king and queen who wish for a child. They seek for answers to their childless condition and a peddler reveals that they are connected to a red thread. The royal couple goes on a long journey, following the thread and discovers at the end, a child who is meant to be theirs.
The Day of Your Arrival by Dolores Brown. This picture book is narrated by the adoptive parents of a young girl. They describe the uncertainty of waiting, the preparations and anticipation of her eventual arrival. They wondered what their new child would be like and the joy of finally getting to know her as an individual. The text is simple and very calming to read, the illustrations are lovely and I love the large size of the book.
How Nivi Got Her Names by Laura Deal. Throughout this story, readers are invited to learn about Inuit naming traditions, adoption and are introduced to some Inuktitut vocabulary. Nivi, an Inuit girl, asks her mother about the story behind her five names. Her mother describes the meaning, history and important people behind Nivi’s names. I love the way the story emphasizes the importance of maintaining a connection with the biological ancestry of an adoptee. An author’s note provides further information about Inuit adoption practices.
Over the Moon by Karen Katz. Katz wrote this book in her role as an adoptive mother of a child from Central America. Katz describes the anticipation of meeting their child, including the role of the biological mother who grew the baby “like a flower.” This book is especially useful for parents who have adopted from overseas as the story follows their journey to a far away place in order to meet their new loved one. Overall, this book has a truly joyful feel, as all of these adoption picture books do!
Wolfie by Ame Dyckman. What I love about this book is that it injects some humor into the adoption process. A bunny family finds a wolf cub on their doorstep and despite the dire warnings of the daughter bunny that the the wolf will “Eat them all up!” mom and dad coo over their new adoptee. I won’t give away the twist, of course, but my son found it to be hilarious.
A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza is a great book for discussion adoption with your kids. Choco is looking for a mom. Mrs. Bear looks very different from what Choco would expect his mom to look like, but then after meeting Mrs. Bear’s other children it becomes clear that differences are a wonderful thing.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco. I’ve mentioned before that you can always count on finding a book to suit your needs if you turn to Polacco’s enormous oeuvre. In this story, young black girl narrates her happy familial existence. She has two moms and a multicultural, adopted family. They have loving traditions and a warm, affectionate home life. Unfortunately a neighbor directly confronts the family to tell them she doesn’t approve of their family! Use this book to talk to your kids about how others are afraid of what they do not understand (a wise lesson that one of the mothers in the book teaches her child) and challenge your kids to think about how we can overcome prejudice and open people’s hearts.
More books about families: