Children’s books about families, adoption and fostering. This list of books for children aged 2-11 in primary school EYFS and years 1-6 in KS1 and KS2 contains recommended topic books to appeal to all reading abilities. We have picked a range of picture books and children’s novels to read aloud, in groups or individually and discuss in PSHE, citizenship, class time or book clubs. This list of reading suggestions is revised regularly and includes stories by Samuel Langley-Swain, Jamie Lee-Curtis, Todd Parr, Phoebe Koehler, Frank Cottrell Boyce, and Justin Richardson.
Families and adoption – our recommended children’s books
Storm Dragon by Dianne Hofmeyr and Carol Thompson
When there’s a storm, grandchild and Grandpa set off for a beach adventure to find the mysterious storm dragon in this heartwarming story of family, excitement and imagination. With powerful panoramic illustrations that evoke the power and allure of weather as a force of nature, Storm Dragon is a wonderful picture book to read aloud and share with EYFS classes.
Pops by Gavin Bishop
This comforting slice of life follows a boy as he visits his grandfather. Holding hands, picking food from the garden and eating together reveal a tender bond. This chunky board book with diverse characters features clever bold illustrations that zoom in on specific details of warmth, love and the joy of family. The sparse text is evocative and will make children and children at heart ponder on what is important in life.
The Gifts That Grow by Monika Singh Gangotra and Michaela Dias-Hayes
The jamun tree planted when Amrita was born links tradition, family, growth and generations in this wonderful picture book about the rewards of caring for ourselves, those we love and the world around us. Told through conversations, observations and anecdotes, this story features diverse characters, distinctive full-colour spreads and a glowing gold detailed cover. It’s a standout picture book for KS1 classrooms. The clever use of typography also makes ‘The Gifts That Grow’ a useful text for shared reading in the classroom and in particular to help children read dialogue aloud.
On My Papa’s Shoulders by Niki Daly
A young boy in urban South Africa longs for the days when his Papa takes him to school, aloft on his shoulders where he can see far and wide. Exploring the same journey with a different person, offers a new and enlightening point of view each time, whether hurrying, splashing through puddles or feeding the ducks. The illustrations are eye-catching, with a warmth of character detail and a thought-provoking sense of space and perspective. It places younger readers aged 4-7 in the middle of this boy’s life, family and world. A celebration of the bond between fathers and sons this is a great book to read and share.
Mister Toots by Emma Chichester-Clark
When a strange blue creature seeks refuge from the wild weather, Bella and her family welcome him in and name him Mister Toots. But just as they get to know and love him, he floats away into the sky. Pivoting from sadness and loss to an unexpected and highly satisfying twist, readers in KS1 will be desperate to find out what happens in the second half. For older pupils, creative upper KS2 teachers might like to compare this story with Armin Greder’s ‘The Island’ and discuss the themes of friendship, acceptance and goodwill with pupils in PSHE or circle time. Highly recommended, this beautiful and highly original picture book has all the makings of a modern classic.
What We’ll Build by Oliver Jeffers
Destined to be a modern classic, this is a simple, yet powerful and inspiring story of a father and daughter and their plans and dreams to build a life and a better world to live in. Moving and imaginative, this is a book to read again and again – to help children communicate what they want to build, and what they think life should be like. With stunning and vibrant artwork, this is an ideal impetus for whole class literacy across the primary age range.
Who’s Your Real Mum by Bernadette Green and Anna Zobel
A sensitive story that encourages children to talk and think about a diverse range of family setups. When Nicholas asks his friend Evi which of her two mums is her real mum – she answers with a series of clues to the reader an imaginative journey. An ideal book to read and discuss with KS1 children, and a useful text for literacy lessons.
The Blanket Bears by Samuel Langley-Swain
A touching story for younger readers about two bears who are fostered. Ideal to share with a class, and useful for creating accessible talking points regarding families, fostering and adoption in KS2 PSHE lessons.
Who’s In My Family? by Robie Harris
When Nellie and Gus visit the zoo they see all sorts of different families. As they stop and ask questions to each other, they realise that there are all sorts of families and all of them are loving and normal. A really useful topic book to discuss with children.
Tell Me Again about the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis
A warm-hearted story about an adopted child that helps explain to children where they came from. A great picture book to read to your child and a useful book for a topic table on adoption and families.
I Don’t Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze
A book that shows children that physical differences don’t define families or relationships. A helpful book to read to an adopted child, or share with a class in KS2 to promote discussion.
I Love My Hair! by Natasha Anastasia Tarpley
A book that celebrates diversity and distinctiveness. Fun and joyful it helps children embrace and enjoy what makes then unique. A good book to stimulate discussion and early writing.
We Belong Together by Todd Parr
With bright bold images and a sensitive and easy to follow story, this is a great book to promote art ideas for a family, adoption or all about me topic in KS1.
The Day We Met You by Phoebe Koehler
This classic picture book tells the story of a young couple preparing to welcome an adopted child to complete their family. Designed to be read to a young child to explain where they came from, this is a thought-provoking picture book to read to classes in both KS1 and lower KS2 in circle time or PSHE.
Adoption by Anita Ganeri
This book invites children to question and consider how they feel about the concept of adoption. The book explores many different situations and scenarios with a deft alacrity.
Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce
A fun and fast-moving middle-grade novel about an alien who is fostered by a large family on a farm. An interesting sideways look at family relationships and an ideal topic book for family topics in upper KS2 classes.
Britannica’s 5 Minute Really True Stories for Family Time
With 30 brightly illustrated factual narratives on subjects as varied as tidying up, playground fun, how birthdays are celebrated around the world and how to say goodbye, there’s enough bedtime reading routine material for many weeks. But, we can imagine an alternative use for this fascinating hardback – primary school assembly ideas. Each chapter will appeal to the whole 3-11 age range, there are plenty of questions posed and answers to elicit, and there’s always something to encourage children to ponder and delve further into by themselves.
The Most Precious Present in the World by Becky Edwards
This picture book promotes the message that you don’t have to look like your parents and siblings to be part of a family, and that love, ties, and relationships are far more important than appearances. An ideal topic book.
Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
A positive large-format book with vibrant illustrations. Great for family reading or reading aloud to a class before discussing. It’s also useful as an impetus for art activities.
Little Stork’s New Home by Carolyn Robertson
A sensitive picture book that carefully explains the process of adoption in a way small children will understand and empathise with.
And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson
A warm story about two penguins who decide to adopt a child. With the help of a zookeeper, Roy and Silo start a family. A useful topic book to help discuss and explain how all families are based on parental love.
The Teazles’ Baby Bunny by Susan Bagnall
The Teazle rabbits adopt a newborn bunny in this moving picture book story for children aged 3-6, produced by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering.
Patina (Track) by Jason Reynolds
An inspirational story that shows upper KS2 readers that adopted and fostered children can achieve amazing things and overcome difficulties.
The Child of Dreams by Irena Brignull
When a young girl wants to find out why she never had a father, she sets out on a quest to answer the questions her mother is unable to provide. On the way, she talks to animals and finds out from them what really makes a family special. Tender and evocative, this is a great book to read to classes in upper KS1 or lower KS2.
I Wished for You: An Adoption Story by Marianne Richmond
Barney the bear asks his mother poignant questions about where he came from in this moving and atmospheric picture book about adoption. Ideal to read to children aged 2-5.
The Ape Star by Frida Nilsson
Orphan Jonna is horrified when her dreams of being adopted by a wonderful mother are seemingly shattered when a gorilla takes her to live in a junkyard. However, all is not as it first seems in this highly original and memorable short chapter book for 7-9-year-olds. The Ape Star has also been adapted into an animated film. With powerful themes of friendship, family and social deprivation, this is a memorable story to read aloud to lower KS2 classes.
All About Ella by Sally Nichols
The dyslexia-friendly family story, part of the 4U2Read series – sees Ella struggling through life as her brother Sam receives all the attention due to illness. But when Sam becomes even sicker, she starts to see life differently. A story that poses serious questions about family dynamics, this is a great text to discuss in book clubs and PSHE. This version, adapted from the Little Gems version, and with a reading age of 7 – will provide a great opportunity for less able upper KS2 readers to feel included.
Dustbin Baby by Jacqueline Wilson
April knows she was found in a dustbin and fostered. But it’s not until 14 years later that she begins to ask questions and want to find out more about where she came from and who her real parents were. An engrossing and powerful read for older KS2 and early KS3 pupils that is ideal for book club discussion.
Picture Perfect by Serena Patel
When a school project demands a family picture, Sonal and her nanna hatch a plan to take everyone on a surprise camping trip. However, with no digital phones or devices allowed, they realise with shock that they will have to talk to each other! A funny and lively foray into family life with plenty of dialogue, Picture Perfect will appeal to upper KS2 readers who like stories with short chapters that move quickly.
What Type Of Family Are We? by Lizzy Seaton
A visually engaging picture book that explores families in every imaginable form. The animal illustrations, which include hippos, lions, chimpanzees, elephants, and camels will appeal to children in KS1.
I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb
A stunning and beautifully illustrated picture book set to verse that tells the story of Hoda Kotb’s adopted child, Haley Joy. A wonderful book to read to your child.
Looking for more topic books? Try our books for topics in KS1 and KS2 page.
We also have a list of recommended reading books for children aged 3-11.
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