Thematic Reading List: A Different Kind of Home: Life in the Foster System


This book list is designed for children ages 8-12 who find themselves in the foster system. The books range in difficulty and include a variety of voices and experiences. Whether these are read independently or together, families involved in the foster system are sure to bond over these stories and begin conversations with one another about their own experiences after absorbing these stories.

Contributed by: Mary Lanni

9780385900706 Pictures of Hollis Woods
By: Patricia Reilly Giff

A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.
014242286X Counting By 7s
By: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.
9780061964206 Summer of the Gypsy Moths
By: Sara Pennypacker

A foster child named Angel and twelve-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella’s great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system.
0545662885 Kinda Like Brothers
By: Coe Booth

When his mother takes in a twelve-year-old foster boy, Jarrett is forced to share his room and his friends with the new boy.
073933879X The Higher Power of Lucky
By: Susan Patro

Fearing that her legal guardian plans to abandon her to return to France, ten-year-old aspiring scientist Lucky Trimble determines to run away while also continuing to seek the Higher Power that will bring stability to her life.
9780062333469 All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
By: Leslie Connor

From Leslie Connor, award-winning author of Waiting for Normaland Crunch, comes a soaring and heartfelt story about love, forgiveness, and how innocence makes us all rise up. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook is a powerful story, perfect for fans of Wonder and When You Reach Me.
Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.
When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?
9781524715953 The Season of Styx Malone
By: Kekla Magoon

Caleb Franklin and his younger brother, Bobby Gene, spend an extraordinary summer their new, older neighbor, Styx Malone, a foster boy from the city.
0399231153 Locomotion
By: Jacqueline Woodson

In a series of poems, eleven-year-old Lonnie writes about his life, after the death of his parents, separated from his younger sister, living in a foster home, and finding his poetic voice at school.
9780152015404 Stellaluna
By: Janell Cannon
Illustrated by: David Holt

When the adorable fruit bat Stellaluna is separated from her mother, she is adopted by a family of birds, but soon finds that she just can’t fit in. Her playmates like to sleep at night; she wants to fly. They whistle and sing; she doesn’t even have a beak! But just when it seems like she’ll always be an outsider, Stellaluna makes an amazing discovery. Now she’ll learn to cherish the things that make her different from everyone else. And she’ll see that an open mind and an open heart can lead to the greatest gift of all.
9780064402019 The Great Gilly Hopkins
By: Katherine Paterson

When she arrives at her newest foster home, it is clear to Galadriel “Gilly” Hopkins that she is smarter than everyone in Thompson Park. It isn’t long before she decides to run away to find her “real” home in California with her mother, the beautiful woman she barely remembers–but for all of Gilly’s street smarts, things turn out quite differently than she plans.
9781608981144 Waiting to Forget
By: Sheila Kelly Welch

T.J. and his sister, Angela, learn how to move forward and be happy while in foster care.
9781573927659 All Families are Different
By: Sol Gordon
Illustrated by: Vivien Cohen

Discusses differences in families in today’s society, as well as what makes each family special.
9780545035316 Touch Blue
By: Cynthia Lord

When the state of Maine threatens to shut down their island’s one-room schoolhouse because of dwindling enrollment, eleven-year-old Tess, a strong believer in luck, and her family take in a trumpet-playing foster child, to increase the school’s population.
0449014002 Breadcrumbs
By: Anne Ursu

A stunning modern-day fairy tale from acclaimed author Anne Ursu. Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it’s up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.
9781927583012 The Way Home
By: Becky Citra

Foster child Tory befriends a pony, Lucky, but after the latter has to be left behind when Tory’s foster family flees a forest fire, the two continue to seek their place in the world, no matter where it is.
1433803844 Murphy’s Three Homes
By: Jan Levinson Gilman
Illustrated by: Kathy O’Malley

A dog describes the emotional ups and downs of being in multiple foster homes and living in unfamiliar surroundings. Includes note to parents.
9780945354284 Zachary’s New Home
By: Geraldine M. Blomquist and Paul B. Blomquist
Illustrated by: Margo Lemieux

Zachary still remembers his “real” parents and finds that adjusting to life as Marie and Tom’s adopted son is sometimes a painful reality.
9781557988027 Maybe Days
By: Jennifer Wilgocki
Illustrated by: Marcia Kahn Wright

Introduces the people and procedures involved in foster care, and the feelings, reactions, and concerns of new foster children. Includes an afterword for caregivers.
1591470730 Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can’t Live with their Parents
By: Janice Levy
Illustrated by: Whitney Martin

A young girl living with her foster parent describes the emotional ups and downs of being separated from her mother and living in unfamiliar surroundings.
9781575422091 Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights
By: Julie Nelson
Illustrated by: Mary Gallagher

All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. They need to understand that they can remember and value their birth family and love their new family, too. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope, support, and coping skills for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.


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