Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Are Foster Kids

Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

My extended family includes several households who were or still are foster parents. As a result of this, I have multiple relatives who were foster kids when they first joined our family.

Today I wanted to highlight some of my favorite fictional books that take a look at how this kind of experience affects someone’s childhood. (The non-fiction books about foster care I like could easily fill up their own Top Ten Tuesday post! Maybe someday I will get the opportunity to do that.)

There definitely aren’t nearly enough stories out there on this subject, but I enjoy the ones that have been written. Here’s hoping there will be many more of them in the future.

1. Kinda Like Brothers by Coe Booth.

The entire family has to adjust every time a new foster kid is added, especially when he’s much older than the kids who have joined that family in the past. I’ve been a huge fan of Coe Booth’s books for several years now, and I can’t say enough good things about them. Honestly, all of them are worth reading.

2. Blood Family by Anne Fine.

Trauma doesn’t disappear just because a certain amount of time has passed or a kid has been adopted. What I found most interesting about Edward’s tale was how much loyalty he felt towards his biological family and how much he worried that sharing DNA with his birth father meant he was destined to act like him, too.

3. Maybe Days by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright.

Picture books aren’t always only for small children. I’d recommend this to older readers, too, if they’re interested. Many foster children are eventually reunited with their parents or other relatives, but this process can take years in some cases. It’s nice to see the period of time when no one knows what will ultimately happen to foster kids being acknowledged so honestly.

4. Where I’d Like to Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell.

Twelve is a tough age for many people, but for Maddie it was even more difficult because of how many different foster homes she had lived in since she was very young. I loved the optimism and playfulness in this tale. It wasn’t something I was expecting to find, but it was the perfect addition to the plot.

5. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.

Sadly, not every foster child is adopted or otherwise finds a permanent family before they turn eighteen. This story explored what happened to a girl named Victoria after she aged out of foster care and had to navigate the world on her own. Her obsession with flowers and what messages they were used to send in the past only made me like her more than I already did.

6. The Sorta Sisters by Adrian Fogelin.

One of the characters in this book, Anna, was being fostered by her biology teacher. Many foster kids are cared for by relatives or people who have known them for years, and I thought it was interesting to see how this kind of placement was discussed in the plot. It can be extremely helpful to maintain those kinds of connections for kids who need to be removed from their birth homes.

7. Peas and Carrots by Tania S. David.

Foster families come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. In this case, Dess was a white teen whose foster family was black. What I enjoyed the most about this tale was how little Dess had in common with her new foster sister, Hope, when they first met because of how loved and sheltered Hope had always been. It was thought-provoking to see how Dess reacted to finally living in a safe home and how Hope reacted to some of Dess’ stories about her past.


8. Murphy’s Three Homes: a Story for Children in Foster Care  by 

This story was so cute! I also appreciated how nurturing Murphy’s final home was when he worried that he was a bad dog or that they weren’t going to keep him. Those scenes were beautifully written.

9. Fostered by Vanessa Marie.

While some foster kids find love and acceptance in their first placement, Dante wasn’t that lucky. I totally understood why he didn’t think the McKinleys would keep him longterm, but I also  hoped he’d eventually realize how much they cared about him.

10. Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath.

The type of foster care in this tale is an old-fashioned one. I enjoyed getting a peek at how communities used to look after children who needed safe homes before Child Protective Services agencies were streamlined and well-known. Primrose herself was an imaginative girl, and I really hoped she’d finally get her happy ending by the final scene.

Have you ever read a book about a character who spent part or all of their childhood in foster care? If so, I’d love to hear about it!


  1. Oh this is such an amazing list and I love it! I read The Great Gilly Hopkins and Pictures of Hollis Woods that have really good foster stories in them. I think these are definitely stories that should be told more. <3

    • Thank you, Cait! I’d completely forgotten about The Great Gilly Hopkins, but I have read it and did enjoy it a lot. It really should have been #11 on my list. 🙂

      I hadn’t heard of Pictures of Hollis Woods. Now I want to read it, though.

  2. Nice take on this week’s list! I haven’t read any of these but will look into some of them!

  3. Oh this is one of the best lists I have seen so far! What a great way to bring more attention to this subject.
    My best friend is a social worker and she’s always finding great reads for her kids. I am going to write these down for her.
    Thank you so much for sharing!
    Ashley @ Books To The Tea
    Here’s my TTT:

    • I’m so glad to hear that, Ashley. You’re quite welcome, and I hope your best friend finds a few books on this list that the kids she works with will enjoy.

      I wasn’t able to leave a comment on your site, but I wanted to tell you that Out of My Mind sounds like a wonderful story. It’s been added to my TBR list.

  4. Interesting take on the weeks topic! I haven’t read any of these but will check them out!

    Indigo Donut by Patrice Lawrence is an amazing book about a girl in foster care. You should look it up 🙂

    My TTT –

    • Thank you, Amy. I’m going to be looking up Indigo Donut in a few minutes. It’s always nice to find more books on this topic.

  5. Wonderful topic! I used to love Jean Ure’s Foster Family series when I was younger, I got them out of the library all the time. =) I own a copy of The Language of Flowers and haven’t read it yet, I need to get to it.

    • Thank you! I hope you enjoy The Language of Flowers. I’m going to see if I can find Jean Ure’s series at my local library.

  6. This is seriously a nice take on today’s topic. Why can’t I think topics like that? 😀 Nice list. I hope to check them soon!

    My TTT

  7. What a fantastic list this week! I think I’ve only read one or two books that have foster families in them and so I’m all about wanting to read more. I definitely feel like it’s a subject that isn’t talked about nearly enough in YA. I’ll have to read some of these! Great idea!

    • I couldn’t agree with you more there, Christine. This is definitely something the YA genre should talk about much more often than it does.

      . I hope you like the books on my list that you end up checking out. I think they’re pretty fabulous. 🙂

  8. Awesome list! I haven’t read any of these yet, but I love that you’re shining a light on this topic!

  9. The cover for Where I’d Like to Be is beautiful.

  10. What a great topic! Thank you for sharing. I do think we need more books representing foster children. It’s a population I work with often and there is a great need out there–for the kids’ sake as well as the general public’s. I haven’t read any of these, but I have made a note of them all.

  11. I love orphans which are basically the same thing as a foster kid… I’ve not read any of these but Fostered sounds good… My favorite foster kid book is The Problem with Forever, so good!! I agree we need more books like these… <3 I did diverse characters TBR…

  12. What a thoughtful theme! I really love that you did this. I want to say Katie McGarry has a book or two featuring foster kids? I could be wrong. I know there are a couple of other YA ones, but I’m having a brain freeze!

    • Aww, thanks!

      That’s good to know. I’m going to look up Katie McGarry’s books today and see if I can’t figure out which ones might feature foster kids. It’s always fun to find stories with that theme.

  13. Peas and Carrots looks like a really interesting novel. I don’t think I’ve read enough books featuring foster kids.

  14. A member of my family recently through a foster experience, so I appreciate seeing a list like this. Blood Family and Where I’d Like To Be in particular looks like very good reads.

    • It’s so neat that you have some personal experience with this topic!

      I hope you enjoy Blood Family and Where I’d Like to Be if you get a chance to read them.

  15. This is such a great take on this week’s prompt. I’ve never read any of these before but I will be checking them out!

    Elena@ The Novelistics

  16. These look so cute!

  17. This is such an interesting take on the prompt! I haven’t read any books about foster children, but it is a subject that should be discussed more often.

    • Thank you! I couldn’t agree with you more there, and I hope you’re able to read some books about foster children soon.

  18. Great list. I see a lot of foster kids in fantasy but not that much in contemporary where it is dealt with well. 🙂

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a kid in foster care. So I should definitely get on that. Thanks for the recs!

Speak Your Mind