Kids love to read about the struggles of others to help them understand and get the happy ending that life doesn’t always provide. Stories about foster care elicit a natural curiosity in young readers. These books show different angles on the foster care system. From Paterson’s ill-behaved Gilly to Sloan’s quirky Willow to O’Connor’s wishful Charlie, there is something for everyone in each of these stories.
Forever or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter
Flora and her brother were adopted a year ago, but their past is still dragging them down. Now their adoptive mother is having a baby and they feel they must hide their feelings and act perfect. But not having a past is taking its toll, so their mother agrees to take them back to all the places they have lived to help them heal.
Gossamer by Lois Lowry
Thin Elderly and Littlest One are entities tasked with giving people dreams. They enter homes and go around touching objects so they can breathe stories into people’s ears while they sleep. John is a boy who has been abused and neglected, and is now in foster care. The entities that give nightmares are after him, and Thin Elderly and Little One must do what they can to over-ride the nightmares with happy dreams.
Fast Break by Mike Lupica
After Jayson’s mom dies from drug related causes, he tries to live on his own, but athletes need shoes. When he’s caught shoplifting, CPS places him in a foster home. Jayson is no easy kid. He resists the kindness of his foster parents. Though they live in a rich neighborhood and he’s sent to a posh private school, he misses the team from his old school
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
11-year-old Perry has lived in prison his entire life while his mother serves time. When the district attorney, who happens to be his best friend’s stepdad, finds out, he removes Perry from the prison. He thinks he’s helping Perry catch up on a life he missed out on, but Perry loves his mom and the other inmates and just wants to go back to the life he loved.
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
When Willow gets the devastating news that her parents have died, her two Vietnamese friends claim their families were close. The truth is they never met, but their mom agrees to foster Willow anyway. Since they live in the garage behind her business, they all move into her guidance counselor’s apartment to fool the system.
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
After Carley’s stepdad beats her mother into a coma, Carley goes into foster care. The Murphys are the perfect family. Mrs. Murphy treats Carley like her own daughter, but she can’t shake the feeling that it’s all a sham. After two months with the Murphys, Carley gets the strength she needs to return to her mother.
Wish by Barbara O’Connor
11-year-old Charlie’s father is in jail and her mother has issues. When she is sent to live with her aunt and uncle she is determined to make things difficult. If only her wish would come true everything would be perfect. Then she meets a friend and a stray dog and realizes maybe she was wishing for the wrong thing all along.
Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein
Yonder has a rough life. Her mother died. Her father is barely coping. The social worker is hounding her. In her messy world, it’s no surprise that she wants to save the miniature pony down the road from the meat factory. But who will save her? Certainly not her obnoxious foster mother.
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Gilly has been in foster care for as long as she can remember. It’s taken its toll and now she’s an ornery, spiteful 11-year-old. No one will put up with her shenanigans. But Mrs. Trotter is different. She’s messy and unorganized, but has all the patience in the world. Gilly is about to discover that maybe she has more to give than she realized.