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reading books with a foster mother

Most children love reading. Besides encouraging their interest in books, and creating a cozy activity for a child and caregiver to share, it can be therapeutic. Being in foster care is confusing and upsetting for children, especially when they are first separated from their parents. A well-written children’s book can help a child to understand what is happening and identify their feelings. Here is a list of books that everyone who works with foster children should have on their bookshelf.

Best for Ages 3 to 8

Maybe Days: A Book For Children In Foster Care, by Jennifer Wilgocki. This nonfiction book explains foster care to children in a way they can understand. However, it is not simplified, nor does it talk down to them. They will learn about the different roles of the people involved in foster care. Further, it gives the opportunity to work through the many questions they have about their experiences.

Kids Need to Be Safe: A Book for Children in Foster Care, by Julie Nelson. A great companion to Maybe Days, this book answers children’s questions about why they have to be in foster care. Without speaking negatively about parents, or going into details about specific circumstances, it explains that foster care is meant to help families and that the child is not at fault. The repeated phrase, “Kids are important. Kids need to be safe,” will give foster parents an answer to use when children ask the question, “Why can’t I live with Mom?”

Murphy’s Three Homes: A Story For Children In Foster Care, by Jan Levinson Gilman and Kathy O’Malley. This gentle story is about a puppy who moves to different foster homes and begins to feel that it’s his fault. Unlike some animal children’s books, Murphy is an actual Tibetan Terrier who is fostered by human families. However, children will relate to the feelings Murphy experiences as a foster dog.

Best for Ages 9 to 12

Forever, Or A Long, Long Time, by Caela Carter. For children who are ready for a deeper story about foster care, this is a book that younger children can read with an adult and older kids can read independently. It is written in Fiona’s voice. After spending years in foster care, she and her younger brother have been adopted. They are still working through a lot of pain and confusion, and Flora worries about whether their adoption really will be forever. This may be better for children who are going to be adopted, rather than children whose plan is family reunification.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, by Frank Cottrell Boyce. This is a more light-hearted book involving foster care. Prez is put in foster care because his elderly grandfather can no longer care for him. While this could be the beginning of a somber story, Prez soon encounters an alien who needs his help to save the world. Prez’s adventure with his alien friend helps him cope with his separation from his grandfather.

Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson. Children who prefer shorter books with an age-appropriate content level will like Locomotion, which is told in free verse poetry in the voice of the 11-year-old main character. Leo is in foster care and separated from his younger sister. With the help of an experienced foster mother and a wise teacher, he learns to put his feelings into words and find hope in the future.

Best for Ages 13 And Up

Three Little Words, by Ashley Rhodes-Courter. This memoir is geared towards adults, but teens will be able to handle the reading level. It is the true story of a girl growing up in foster care, bouncing from the homes of relatives, to foster homes, to children’s homes. Rhodes-Courter is especially inspirational. She grew up to be an advocate for children in foster care, as well as a foster parent herself.

Far From the Tree, by Robin Benway. This is a story that is told in the voices of three characters, all siblings who were separated at a young age and placed in foster care. Now, as teenagers, they find each other and must find a way to connect while also dealing with the foster and adoptive families they’ve grown up with.

Find More Books For Children In Foster Care

Reading can be a great way to help children in foster care process their experiences and feelings. Foster care agencies can provide additional ideas and support for foster parents. Foster parents in Nebraska and Oklahoma can contact TFI for more information.