Adopted children and teens pick their top 10 books that feature adopted children and families. These books have been suggested and reviewed by adopted children and teens of a range of ages. They have chosen the books they have felt they are most able to identify with and which reflect their experiences of adoption and some of the issues that have arisen for them.
1. Morris and the Bundle of Worries by Jill Seeney
All young children have worries, but looked after children may have more worries than most as they lack the reassurance and security of permanent, stable family life. In this colourful picture book for young children, Morris the Mole finds out that talking about his problems, and facing his worries with the help of others, is more helpful than hiding his fears.
“I like this book because Morris’s friend helped him to get rid of the nasty spider and the big toad! My favourite character is Morris because I like moles (but my Nanna doesn’t as they dig up her garden!). I felt sad for Morris because he couldn’t sleep in his bed because of the “big pile” of worries but after he let out the fireworks it was much smaller.” – Cameron, 4
“I liked this book because Morris hurled his big worries at the tree and they became fireworks. My favourite character was Nightingale because she solved the problem by listening. I recommend this book to others because it is fun. I read it by myself.” – Albert, 6
2. Elfa and the Box of Memories by Michelle Bell
Looked after children may have more difficult memories that most, because of separation and loss and traumatic events that may have taken place. In this charming picture book, Elfa the elephant discovers that sharing her memories and remembering the good things that happened is more helpful than keeping them locked away.
“I love this book because Elfa has a memory box just like me. My favourite character is Elfa, especially when she is small and has the Ellie spots because she looks cute! I love reading this book with my mum. When Elfa’s friend Marvin helps her fill up her memory box it makes me feel happy. Memory boxes are very special because they are all about you and at home we often talk about how important they are.” – Cameron, 4
“I liked this book because Elfa shared her memories with Marvin. My favourite character was Marvin because he shared the memories. Marvin also found the lost memories. I recommend this book to other people because it had a happy ending.” – Albert, 6
3. The Story of Tracy Beaker by Jacqueline Wilson
Told in Tracy’s own words, Jacqueline Wilson’s hugely popular series of books features a 10-year-old with a wild imagination and a short fuse who lives in a children’s home and would like a real home of her own. Touching and funny.
“I like Tracy Beaker because she’s a naughty girl in care and she makes me laugh. She’s cheeky like me but when I’m angry I don’t go as far as she does! It’s nice to read about someone who is going through the same thing as me. I wish I could meet Jacqueline Wilson.” – Phoebe, 10
4. Picnic in the Park by Joe Griffiths and Tony Pilgrim
It’s Jason’s birthday and he has lots of guests at his picnic in the park, from all different sorts of families.
“I sometimes feel different to my friends, as they have a mum and dad, and brothers and sisters. This book shows how many different families there are, and all are happy, safe, and love each other, which is the most important thing. So now if anyone says something horrible to me, I tell him, I am happy with my family, then I run off and play.” – Oliver, aged 10
“I like the bit about the birthday party he had because at the end he opened his presents and I wondered what presents he had. I like Jason because he’s got a picture of 5 on and I like people who are 5, and can play with them. And I only play with them at school.” – Ayeesha, 5
5. The Teazles’ Baby Bunny by Susan Bagnall
A picture book that tells the story of how the Teazle rabbits adopt a baby bunny and offers a gentle way to broach the topic of adoption with younger children.
“I liked it when the Teazles danced around because they were happy that they were going to get their own boy or girl and I liked the picture of the birds playing music.” – Danny, 5
6. Nutmeg Gets Adopted by Judith Foxon
The story of a small red squirrel, Nutmeg, and his younger sister and brother who go through the process of separation, foster care and then going to live with a new, adopted family when their mother is unable to look after them and keep them safe.
“I read this when I was over 5. I liked this book because I could relate to it in a number of ways and that I felt somebody else understood me even if it was just a squirrel in a book. I liked the owl in the forest best when I was younger as he symbolised being a judge which allowed Nutmeg to be adopted by his new parents. And for me that was important. I identified with Nutmeg the most as I felt he knew just what I had been through when I was younger and that he ended up being in a happy family like I did.
All the issues they talked about in the book I pretty much experienced too such as not having a safe home to live in and not enough food etc.” – Kelsey, 17
7. Charlie and Lola: I Will Not Ever Never Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
Classic picture book about siblings Charlie and Lola which has also been made into a popular animated TV series.
“I read this from when I was about three and a half to five. I could see myself and my brother being the characters. It was funny with interesting concepts, Charlie convinces his sister in an interesting and imaginative way. ALL kids should read this.” – Gemma, 19
8. The Rescue Party (Tales From Percy’s Park) by Nick Butterworth
A heartwarming tale in which Percy the Park Keeper’s day off is interrupted when a little rabbit has an accident. Percy to the rescue!
“I read this when I was between three and eight and I still like it. Percy is like an adoptive parent really because he cares for the squirrel and helps him get better. It’s like being part of a new family. I liked the little squirrel who had a broken arm and Percy fixed it up for him and then all the other animals come to help him so he wasn’t alone.” – Kayleigh, 15
9. The Most Precious Present in the World by Becky Edwards
Mia has different hair and eye colour to her mum and dad. Why? In a dialogue between a little girl and her adoptive mother, this simple, reassuring book explores some of the questions that adopted children ask.
“When my mum chose me to be her little boy, I was happy, but I was scared too. My mum read this book to me when I was six, we read it together, over and over night, it helped me sleep. I liked it because it made me feel special and happy. – Oliver, 10
“Adopted children would like this book because it makes adoption special. It also says it is okay to be sad and frustrated sometimes.” – Teddie, 6
10. A Safe Place for Rufus by Jill Seeney
Rufus the cat lives with a family who looks after him, feeds him his favourite foods and gives him lots of cuddles. He feels happy and safe, especially when he is lying on his favourite blue cushion. But he didn’t always feel this way. The family that Rufus used to live with were not kind to him at all. Thinking about his past makes him angry and sad and Rufus struggles to escape from his memories and find a safe place where he can just relax and be himself.
“It has good illustrations which help the story come to life and it is relatable for most adopted children as when they first move to a new home they don’t feel very safe but it normally slowly gets better. And also that when you first move you may have bad memories and that it is normal.” – Kelsey, 17