In 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation declaring the Saturday before Thanksgiving as National Adoption Day. President Reagan, who had an adopted child of his own, felt that the Thanksgiving season was the perfect time to reaffirm our commitment to give every child waiting to be adopted the chance to become part of a family.
“More children with permanent homes mean fewer children with permanent problems. That is why we must encourage a national effort to promote the adoption of children, and particularly children with special needs.” — President Ronald Reagan, Proclamation 5280 — National Adoption Week, 1984
National Adoption Day, this year being celebrated on November 21st, is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting to find permanent families.
To mark the holiday, I’ve pulled together eight of my favorite books about adoption. As someone who is adopted, and has been involved in the community, these are some of the titles that are most often celebrated, circulated and recommended books for middle grade students on the topic of adoption.
1. Kimchi & Calamari
by Rose Kent
Kimchi & Calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean & Italian cuisine, & it’s exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn’t an adopted Korean drummer — comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given: his face in the mirror & his proud Italian family.
Now Joseph has to write an essay about his ancestors for social studies. What he writes leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of shattered dishes — & self-discovery that Joseph never could have imagined!
2. American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang
Graphic novelist Gene Yang follows three different plot lines about Chinese youth trying to fit into American culture. This much-anticipated, affecting graphic novel about growing up different is more than just the story of a Chinese-American childhood; it’s a fable for every kid born into a body that doesn’t always fit in and the struggle to come to acceptance and peace within one’s own identity.
by Angela Johnson
At fourteen, Marley is shocked to find out she was adopted. The truth seems to change everything. How could her parents have lied? Is her brother really her brother? Does she belong?
“Last night Momma and Pops kept saying they should have told me what they had to tell me sooner. It’s what people who haven’t told the truth always say…” — Heaven
As she processes the disclosure, Marley finds peace, realizing that her relationships with her family remain the same. She comes to understand both that they belong to each other as they always have and that it is important to know about her birth family and her birth heritage.
4. Tracy Beaker Series
by Jacqueline Wilson
One of the most popular children’s UK book series, it spawned a television series, a film and a video game. Ten-year-old Tracy is one of the most popular and well-loved children’s book characters ever created. She lives in a Children’s Home but would like a real home one day, with a real family.
Juan Felipe Herrera
From U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera comes the powerful journey of Chicano teen Lucky Z. A former skateboarder who’s anything but lucky, he finds triumph and power through his voice. Raw, cool, real — this novel in verse is a shout-out to teens to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to raise their voice and find strength in the sheer and simple power of expression.
But things have taken a turn — he’s living with new foster parents and a tragic past. An accident changed everything. And only his voice will set him free.
Get the book on Amazon | Grade Level: 6–12 | Lexile Measure: N/A
6. Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew
Filled with powerful insights from children, parents, and experts in the field, plus practical strategies and case histories that will ring true for every adoptive family,Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew is an invaluable guide to the complex emotions that take up residence within the heart of the adopted child — and within the adoptive home.
Get the Book on Amazon | Grade Level: 7–12 | Lexile Measure: N/A
7. The Ocean Within
Elizabeth knows she is adopted & feels she can’t trust the welcome offered by her new family, the Sheridans. As she & her new siblings and cousins head to the beach for a vacation at Grandma’s house, Elizabeth is secretly thrilled at the chance to finally see the ocean.
A storm is brewing within the usually sunny Sheridan summer home, as Elizabeth & the matriarch she calls the “Iron Woman” test wills — one resisting with all her strength the love & structure offered by the other.
8. Let’s Talk About It: Adoption
by Fred Rogers
Mr. Rogers opens the door for adopted children and their parents to safely talk about their good and sometimes not-so-good feelings in a book about the joy of belonging and the love that unites families.
Get the book on Amazon | Grade Level: 4–8 |Lexile Measure: N/A
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