Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to adoption. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about adoption.
Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.
When it comes to children’s stories about adoption, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Waiting for May to popular sellers like Anne of Green Gables (Puffin in Bloom) to some of our favorite hidden gems like Wolfie the Bunny.
We hope this list of kids books about adoption can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.
The War I Finally Won - A New York Times bestseller Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables, Ada is a fighter for the ages. Her triumphant World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning The War that Saved My Life When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now? World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy? As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?
Anne of Green Gables - The Cuthberts are in for a shock. They are expecting an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables � but a skinny red-haired girl turns up instead. Highly spirited Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter, and soon it’s impossible to imagine life without her. A favourite classic with cover and introduction by the inimitable Lauren Child, award-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the hugely popular Charlie and Lola series.
The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - A precocious young girl is determined to prove herself as an explorer in the first novel in the whimsical Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series. Stella Starflake Pearl knows, without a doubt, that she was born to be an adventurer. It’s too bad girls are forbidden from becoming explorers. But Stella’s father has never been one to play by the rules. Leaving behind her pet polar bear, Gruff, and beloved unicorn, Magic, Stella and Felix set off on an expedition to the snowy Icelands. There, Stella plans to prove herself as a junior explorer, worthy of membership in the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. So when Stella and three other junior explorers are separated from the rest of their expedition, she has the perfect opportunity. Can they explore the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale? The first in Alex Bell’s imaginative new series, The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club is a fun and daring adventure filled with magic, outlaws, and fantastic faraway lands.
Annie - It’s a hard-knock life for America’s favorite orphan! Everyone knows the story of the irrepressible Annie, who lives at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage until she beats the odds and finds a new life with the benevolent and wealthy Daddy Warbucks. Annie has enchanted millions of readers from her original comic strip appearance to the hit Broadway musical. Now, with a Tony-nominated revival playing on Broadway, Puffin is reissuing this novelization of the classic story, with a new introduction by Tony and Emmy Award-winning author Thomas Meehan. This is an adaptation that delves even deeper into Annie’s story, as she lives on the streets during the Great Depression, finds Sandy the dog, and encounters characters both familiar and new.
Want to see books about orphans?
Pup and Bear - This deeply emotional read-aloud about a lost wolf pup who is raised by a loving polar bear is sure to resonate with families - particularly non-traditional ones. You are not my mother, said the wolf pup. I am not your mother, said the polar bear, but I can cuddle you and keep you safe. Here is a picture book that celebrates differences and promotes kindness, sure to resonate with the many fans of the beloved classic, Mama Do You Love Me? During the ice melt that follows an Arctic winter, a wolf cub finds himself spinning out to sea on a sheet of ice. He awakes lost and alone to an unfamiliar smell: a polar bear. And while the polar bear is not the wolf’s mother, she takes him on her back to her den, where she feeds him, keeps him warm, and does everything a mother would do. Time passes, the cub grows into a wolf, and soon it’s time for him to venture out into the wide world alone. Years later, the now grown wolf comes upon a tiny lost polar bear cub—and the cycle begins again. With poetic prose this beautiful picture book about the love and kindness of a stranger is sure to touch a deep chord, particularly with parents and children who have found each other in unexpected ways.
My Pillow Keeps Moving! - A lonely man tries to buy a pillow . . . and ends up with a new best friend in this silly and sweet doggy tale, perfect for fans of Officer Buckle and Gloria. Dogs make good pillows, don’t they? A clever pup ends up in a cozy home, and she’ll do anything to stay there. She impersonates everything the lonely homeowner needs—a pillow, a footstool, a jacket. But in the end, being herself works best. Laura Gehl’s spare, humorous text and New Yorker cartoonist Christopher Weyant’s expressive characters will leave young readers giggling and begging for more.
A Piglet Named Mercy - Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the Mercy Watson series, a tiny piglet brings love (and chaos) to Deckawoo Drive—and the Watsons’ lives will never be the same.
When I Grow Up - What is your family like? All of the children in Miss Ester’s class know what they want to be like when they grow up: their families! And each family is special and unique. Readers will be surprised and delighted to find that Johnny the duckling’s mom and dad have curly tails, stubby noses, and hooves. Johnny and his classmates make it easy for parents to show their little ones that there are many types of families, and they’re all made of love. Paula Vásquez’s fun illustrations and sweet writing style make this unique family story a must-have.
Want to see books about animals?
My New Mom & Me - A heartwarming “tail” about adoption, diversity, and acceptance that’s perfect for young readers! Told from the point of view of a puppy who is adopted by a cat, this gentle and reassuring tale is perfect for very young readers and listeners. When the puppy comes to live with his new mom, he is nervous. After all, his mom has stripes and he doesn’t. But his mom says she likes that they look different, and soon the puppy likes it, too. (And who cares what anyone else thinks!) The puppy’s new mom does all the things other parents do. She plays with him, takes care of him, and sometimes even makes him mad! But that’s okay, because when he’s feeling sad, she knows just what to say.
I Am a Wolf - A dog who insists she’s a wolf finds the perfect home with a young girl who sees past her prickly personality in this pet adoption story that’s as laugh-out-loud funny as it is heart-tugging. When a particularly growly pup finds herself in an animal shelter, she insists that she is a wolf—a lone wolf. After all, she’s not sweet, she’s not cute, and she is just fine on her own! Luckily, there’s one little girl at the shelter who knows that sometimes, good dogs act bad when they feel afraid and that extending a little kindness can help even the most wolfish pup at the pound let down her guard.
Good Dog, Mctavish - A dog with a plan adopts a chaotic family in a wry comedy extolling the virtues of common sense. When Ma Peachey takes up yoga, the rest of the family finds themselves abandoned to chaos: no one cooks dinner, no one picks up the dirty laundry, the children are always late for school, and there is a good deal of squabbling and squalor. Ma may be off finding inner peace, but irritable Pa Peachey, glum Ava, and wannabe girl-charmer Ollie are falling apart. Only Betty, the sensible youngest child, is wise enough to see that this family is in need of rescue. Enter McTavish, a rescue dog who, true to his mission, is ready to teach this family some new tricks. Getting the Peacheys to behave will take work, but if anyone can do it, McTavish can. After all, he’s a very good dog — maybe even a psychological mastermind!
The Duchess and Guy: A Rescue-to-Royalty Puppy Love Story - A heartwarming tale about a beagle and the Duchess who adopted him, this picture book is inspired by the true story of Meghan Markle and her rescue dog, Guy. When he was a pup, Guy was just like any dog in the shelter; he liked to bark and follow his nose, and dreamed of a forever home above all things. But when Guy met Meghan, he had no idea he was about to star in his own Cinderella story. Guy can now be spotted escorting Queen Elizabeth and frolicking in Buckingham Palace. This rags-to-riches story of how one regal beagle got a second chance at life will charm and delight.
Want to see books about dogs?
Greenglass House - At Greenglass House, a smuggler’s inn, 12-year-old Milo, the innkeepers’ adopted son, plans to spend his winter holidays relaxing, but soon guests begin arriving with strange stories about the house, sending Milo and Meddy, the cook’s daughter, on an adventure. Simultaneous eBook.
The Adventures of Lettie Peppercorn - An alchemist peddles a new magical invention—and the key that could unlock Lettie Peppercorn’s family secrets—in this quirky “tale of self-discovery, family, and friendship” (The Independent). Lettie Peppercorn cannot go outside. Ma told her so right before Ma disappeared forever. So Lettie’s house is on stilts, and she is stuck with only the wind and a pigeon for a friend. Nothing exciting has ever happened to her—until the night a strange merchant appears. He claims to be an alchemist—the greatest that ever lived—and he is here to sell Lettie his newest invention. It’s an invention that could change Lettie’s life—and the world forever. An invention called “snow.” But snow is not the only secret he holds. The alchemist knows where Lettie’s Ma is. And Lettie will do anything to get Ma back—even if it means risking her own life. Join the brilliant and resourceful Lettie Peppercorn as she sails across the world to reunite her family and discover the truth about herself.
Secret on the Thirteenth Floor - Black cats? Broken mirrors? The number thirteen? The owner of the art deco apartment building in nearby Silver City believes in all kinds of superstitions. The Aldens aren’t so sure about most of them, but there’s one thing they do know: something strange is going on on the thirteenth floor. Are they just coincidences, or is the building manager onto something?
The Misadventures of the Family Flether - The start of the school year is not going as the Fletcher brothers hoped. Each boy finds his plans for success veering off in unexpected and sometimes diastrous directions. And at home, their miserable new neighbor complains about everything. As the year continues, the boys learn the hard and often hilarious lesson that sometimes what you least expect is what you come to care about the most.
Waiting for May - A young boy looks forward to the day when a new sister, who will be adopted from China, joins his family.
Want to see books about siblings?