Family can mean different things to different people. Some families come together by birth, some by marriage, some by adoption. Really, all that’s actually needed to define a “family” is unconditional love and support (and hopefully some joy and laughter along the way). But for children who enter a family via adoption, or who have siblings who joined the family via adoption, often there are lots of questions about their family came to be. That’s where children’s books about adoption can help—whether they help kids feel less alone, explain parts of their adoption journey, or just introduce them to a character or two who helps them process their feelings. Books and the adventures within them can often help all the parts of a child’s world fall into place, and this topic is no different.

Related: 18 Books every five-year-old will love

How to choose the best children’s books about adoption

As is the case with most children’s stories, you should usually look for a few common elements when choosing books kids can connect with. Relatable characters are a must. Rhyming words help (or a simple plot with only a few words per page) are great too. And finally, eye-catching illustrations are key.

Regardless of the overall book concept, if a child is enthralled by the character’s journey or experience and can see themselves in the story too, you’ve got yourself a winner that will probably be read again and again.

And particularly for a child who is adopted, children’s books can help them understand their life experience better or figure out why they have the feelings they do that other kids may not have. Maybe it’s a rabbit who found their forever family after a long journey, or a story of a foster child whose parents lived right down the street their whole lives, but the point is, there are countless ways to tell an adoption story. What matters is that the child reading it feels empathy, feels a connection, and feels seen. As long as the overall message is a celebration of family—and how families are formed in all sorts of beautiful, loving ways—the story is a success and a beneficial addition to your child’s library.

Related: 6 Diverse children’s books you should have on your bookshelf

Also, it’s important for all kids to read stories about the many ways families can come together, even if they haven’t experienced adoption themselves. Chances are, they’ll have a friend or a classmate who is adopted, or maybe they’ll someday become a parent themselves to a child through adoption. The point is to teach all children that “family” can mean so many different things—some families have only one parent, while some have two moms or two dads. Some children joined their blended family through marriage, and others through adoption or foster care. What matters is that everyone is safe, loved, and accepted exactly as they are.

15 Children's books on adoption to add to your bookshelf

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born

Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell

Every child should know their birth story, whether they are raised by their birth parents or not, and this book by actress Jamie Lee Curtis shows how valuable that tale really is. This story not only talks about the night the child was born, however. It also asks, “Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents” and “Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms” because those stories matter too. “Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born” is a special celebration of the love and joy an adopted child creates for a family.

The Mulberry Bird

The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story by Anne Braff Brodzinsk PhD, illustrated by Angela Marchetti

Suitable for kids ages 5-10, “The Mulberry Bird: An Adoption Story” tells of a mother bird who loves her baby very much, but when her nest is damaged by a storm, she finds she can no longer care for her baby and keep him safe. The loving mother must then let another family care for him in a nest that is strong and secure. A tale of love and sacrifice, this is a timeless adoption story that shows how one child can be loved by multiple parents—all of whom love that baby with their whole heart and soul.

My Family is Forever

My Family is Forever by Nancy Carlson

Reflective of long-distance or international adoptions, this is a story of devoted parents who traveled very far from home to adopt their daughter and create their forever family. “My Family is Forever” shows that being a family isn’t about who you look like or where you were born—it’s about the love that binds you together.

I Don't Have Your Eyes

I Don't Have Your Eyes by Carrie A. Kitze, illustrated by Rob Williams

Families who have bonded together through transracial or transcultural adoption know that celebrating each family member’s differences is the key to love, acceptance, and belonging. “I Don’t Have Your Eyes” teaches this very valuable lesson—that even though a child and their parents might look physically different on the outside, on the inside, they are the same and they are all a part of one family.

The Family Book

The Family Book by Todd Parr

Some families have two moms, some have two dads. Some have only one parent, and some kids are raised by their grandparents or another family member or guardian. “The Family Book” helps reminds all children to be inclusive and accepting of different types of families and to remember that each family’s uniqueness is actually the best thing about it!


Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Stellaluna is a baby fruit bat knocked from its nest by an attacking owl. Thankfully, she lands in the nest of a bird family who adopts her and welcomes her with love. And, as a bonus, this beautiful story includes two pages of interesting facts about bats for kids to read as well! An adoption story that’s also a mini-science lesson, “Stellaluna” is a must-have for your child’s bookshelf.

Adoption Is Both

Adoption Is Both by Elena S. Hall, illustrated by Lara Norris

Written by an adoptee, “Adoption is Both” employs easy-to-read, catchy rhymes as it delves into many of the feelings and experiences adopted children may have. For example, adoption can be both happy and sad. An adoptee can feel both love and loss. Elena S. Hall helps children recognize that all of these feelings are OK, are valid, and that lots of children (and adults) who are adopted experience similar emotions.

When You Joined Our Family

When You Joined Our Family by Harriet Evans, illustrated by Nia Tudor

If you’re looking for a joyous celebration of the day an adopted child joined their forever family, here it is. Harriet Evans explores all of the steps of the adoption process, including those first meetings, to getting to know one another, to making new family traditions, and shows how all of those exciting experiences form the fabric of a family.

A Mother for Choco

A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza

Keiko Kasza’s twist on the “Are you my mother?” theme has become one of the most highly recommended stories about adoption for children. A little bird named Choco sets out on a quest to find a mother who looks like him, but when he does find a mother, she’s a bear! And her kids at home are a piglet, a hippo and an alligator! And that’s when Choco (and the reader) learn that families comes in all shapes and sizes and still fit together.

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, One Promise

The Baby with Three Families, Two Countries, and One Promise: An International Adoption Story by Julie Gianelloni Connor, illustrated by Saman Chinthaka Weerasinghe

An excellent choice to spark conversations with your children about adoption—international adoption especially—this story has won first place in the children’s book category at the North Texas Book Festival and the Grand Prize for children’s books from Authors Marketing International.

Also, Midwest Book Review calls it, “An exceptional stand-out in the literature of children’s picture books covering adoption in general and international processes in particular; highly recommended.”

I've Loved You Since Forever

I've Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, illustrated by Suzie Mason

Today Show anchor Hoda Kotb tells of the magical moment she adopted her daughter Haley Joy in this heartwarming tale. With beautiful lyrics and captivating illustrations on every page, this is a story about how both Hoda and Haley were out there, in the universe, awaiting the day their “stars would meet” and their lives would be forever changed for the better.

And That's Why She's My Mama

And That's Why She's My Mama by Tiarra Nazario, illustrated by Gabby Correia

And That’s Why She’s My Mama” teaches the valuable lesson of what it really means to be a mother. She kisses your boo-boos, holds you when you’re scared, takes you to the park, and makes you feel loved and safe. Not all mothers hold their babies in their tummies, but all mothers do have one thing in common—they love their kids!

The Little Green Goose

The Little Green Goose by Adele Sansone, illustrated by Anke Faust

The Little Green Goose” is a story of a male goose who desperately wants to be a dad, but none of the hens will give him one of their eggs. However, when a dog digs up an egg in the woods, Mr. Goose builds a nest for it and anxiously waits for it to hatch—only he ends up with a baby dinosaur, not a gosling! Even though the dad and baby don’t look alike, Mr. Goose raises his baby with complete devotion, showing baby dinosaur what unconditional love and family look like.

Little Miss Spider

Little Miss Spider by David Kirk

When Little Miss Spider is born, her mother is nowhere to be found, so she sets out to find her, encountering many dangerous circumstances on her journey. Thankfully, Betty the Beetle offers kind assistance and protection along the way, encouraging the baby spider to “look for the creature who loves you the best.” In the end, that creature is Betty the Beetle herself and she was right there all along.

Fred the Fox Finds His Family

Fred the Fox Finds His Family by Jerry Winningham, illustrated by Caroline Nielsen

Fred the Fox spends much of his life living with various families, always searching for his forever home. In the end, Fred finds himself with a big, blended family, where everyone looks a little bit different and comes from diverse backgrounds, and it turns out, that’s exactly where Fred was meant to be. This is a beautiful tale of what it means to truly be a family.