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Heartwarming Kids’ Books That Celebrate Adoption

by Dena McMurdie

Photo credit: Shaw Photography Co., Moment Collection/Getty Images

Few topics will give you as many feel-good vibes as adoption. Chances are, you know someone whose life has been blessed by it. Adoption changes the lives of children and parents alike, and it’s exciting to see families form through this amazing process. One thing’s for sure — adoption is worth celebrating.

Here are some heartwarming books for kids and teens that honor adoption in all its forms. On this list, you’ll find stories about domestic, international, and pet adoption. Keep some tissues on hand because you’re going to feel all the feels as you read these books!

  • Love Makes a Family

    by Sophie Beer

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    This beautifully illustrated board book teaches babies and toddlers that families come in a variety of shapes and sizes. No matter what your family looks like, the most important ingredient is love.
    (Ages 0 – 3)

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  • I Want a Dog

    by Jon Agee

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    When a little girl goes to the animal shelter to adopt a dog, she is offered many other pets — including a lizard, a frog, and a baboon — but no dog. After explaining to the man at the shelter exactly what she wants, he recommends the perfect pet for her. Children will love this unusual and humorous spin on pet adoption.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

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  • Found Dogs

    by Erica Sirotich

    Young children will delight in counting each adorable dog in the animal shelter. They’ll also love counting in reverse as the dogs get adopted by loving pet owners. With sweet illustrations and rhyming text, this picture book is a salute to animal adoption.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

  • Wonderful You

    by Lauren McLaughlin, illustrated by Meilo So

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    This brightly illustrated picture book applauds a birth mother’s decision to find a family for her unborn child. Focusing on the joy and happiness that adoption brings, this heartwarming story is a must-read for any child curious about adoption.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

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  • The Peculiar Pig

    by Joy Steuerwald

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    Penny doesn’t look like her brothers and sisters. She doesn’t sound like them, run like them, or dig like them. Even though Mama loves all her piglets the same, Penny’s siblings like to point out her differences. When danger comes to the farm, Penny proves that being different is a good thing. This charming story portrays both the challenges and joys of being adopted into a big family.
    (Ages 4 – 8)

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  • Three Times Lucky

    by Sheila Turnage

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    After having washed ashore during a hurricane as a baby, Mose LoBeau was taken in by a cafe owner. She loves her adopted family, but she’s curious about her birth mother, too. Set in a small Southern town with a full cast of eccentric characters, this quirky murder mystery is also a beautiful story about an adopted girl learning to accept the unknown parts of her past.
    (Ages 9 – 12)

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  • The War that Saved My Life

    by Kimberly Drubaker Bradley

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    It’s easy to see why this moving New York Times bestselling middle grade novel has collected multiple awards, including a Newbery Honor Award and a Schneider Family Book Award. Set in England during World War II, Ada and her little brother Jaimie are evacuated to the countryside and entrusted to a woman named Susan. Even though she is dealing with grief and loneliness, Susan cares for and bonds with the children. This unexpected family sets the foundation for the healing and love they all need.
    (Ages 9 – 12)

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  • Red Thread Sisters

    by Jon Agee

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    Wen is happy to leave the orphanage in China and join a new family in the United States. As she adjusts to her new life, she can’t help but miss her friend Shu Ling from the orphanage. When she finds out that Shu Ling will soon be too old to adopt, Wen does everything she can to find her a family. This feel-good novel tackles the ups and downs of international adoption.
    (Ages 9 – 12)

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  • When I Was Summer

    by J.B. Howard

    In an attempt to figure out why she always feels like an outsider, Nora hatches a plan to track down her birth mother. Under the guise of a music tour with her somewhat successful rock band, Nora sets out across California to find three potential parents. Along the way, Nora finds out more about herself, discovers she’s stronger than she thought, and learns the value of good friends.
    (Ages 13+)

  • Finding Miracles

    by Julia Alvarez

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    Adopted from a Latin American country as a baby, Milly grew up in the United States. When she meets Pablo, a refugee from her birth country, she becomes curious about her roots. On a visit to the town where she was born, Milly learns how her past intertwines with the tumultuous history of the country. This profound young adult novel is a love letter to international adoption and how it blesses everyone involved.
    (Ages 13+)

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  • What I Carry

    by Jennifer Longo

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    Muir has one year left before she ages out of the foster care system. After spending her entire life in foster care, she has learned not to get attached to anyone or anything. But when she meets her final foster parent, Muir finds herself forming the bonds she’s tried so hard to avoid. Heartwarming and beautiful, this young adult novel explores the true meaning of family.
    (Ages 13+)

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