Books that feature adopted characters

Posted on: 06/02/2024

Written byJen Sutherland


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At Literacy Tree, we believe that it’s important for ALL children to see themselves and their families represented in the books that they read and to understand that families come in all shapes and sizes. For this month’s booklist, we’ve chosen to spotlight some of our favourite books that feature characters who are adopted and that explore – and celebrate - their relationships with their families.





We Love You Hundreds and Thousands

by Dara Read

Jasmine just loves celebrating her birthday and in this gorgeous picture book, we are invited along to some of her best birthday parties to find out why! Written by an adoptee who is now a mother, this book offers a vibrant insight into the special bond between a child and their adoptive parent(s).

Themes and links: love, celebrations, birthdays 


And Tango Makes Three

by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

The true story of Central Park Zoo penguins Roy and Silo is brought to life in this touching book. Roy and Silo would like their own penguin chick to raise, but there’s one problem – they’re both boys. But can caring zookeeper Mr Gramzay, help the couple’s dream of being parents to become a reality?

Themes and links: love, empathy, kindness, hope, animals, LQBT+



When You Joined Our Family

by Harriet Evans

This heartwarming book takes us on a journey through the adoption experience, from first meetings to creating new traditions. Featuring a wide range of family types, it is a joyful celebration of learning, growing and unconditional love.

Themes and links: love, single-parent families, LGBT+


Wolfie the Bunny

by Ame Dyckman

When Mama and Papa Bunny decide to adopt a baby wolf found on their doorstep, their daughter Dot is horrified. Don’t they realise that Wolfie the Bunny is going to eat them all up? This hilarious yet heartening book explores all the feelings that can accompany the arrival of a new sibling.

Themes and links: arrival of a new sibling, fear, anxiety, acceptance



The Accidental Diary of B.U.G: Sister Act

by Jen Carney

Billie Upton Green continues to be splendidly frank and hilarious in the third book from the Accidental Diary series. It’s an exciting time for Billie: a little sister is on the way! Her birth mother has had a baby which her mums will soon be adopting. This book is particularly powerful in portraying the adoption process from a sibling’s point of view in a way that is highly relatable and accessible for children.

Themes and links: LGBT+, arrival of a new sibling, grandparent-grandchild relationships


Just Call Me Spaghetti-Hoop Boy

by Lara Williamson

Adam has always known that he is adopted but a ‘family tree’ school project prompts new questions in his mind about his birth mother. Luckily, Adam knows the answer to all of life’s questions and problems: become a superhero! This humorous yet tender book explores the complexities of family life as well as what it REALLY means to be a superhero.

Themes and links: friendship, kindness, identity, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, illness of a parent



Dara Palmer’s Major Drama

by Emma Shiva


Dara Palmer knows that she is a born star with heaps of talent. It’s therefore quite the shock when she doesn’t get a part in the school play. Dara begins to wonder if the fact that she looks different – she was adopted as a baby from Cambodia – might have something to do with it. Dara’s distinctive voice takes us on a rollercoaster journey in this funny yet poignant tale of personal growth and self-acceptance.

Themes and links: sibling relationships, identity, coping with disappointment, empathy


The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club

by Alex Bell

When the opportunity arises for Stella to join her father and the Polar Bear Explorers on an expedition to the Icelands, she jumps at the chance. An incredible adventure follows, featuring giant yetis, magical geese and carnivorous cabbages! This stunning book combines elements of action, fantasy and adventure all set against an Arctic backdrop.

Themes and links: expeditions, adventure, explorers, conservation



The War I Finally Won

by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley


The sequel to The War That Saved My Life finds siblings Ada and Jamie settled permanently with Susan, who came to care for them when they were evacuated during the war. World War 2 continues to provide a backdrop for this story, as a series of events in the village tests bonds of family and friendship for Ada. A beautiful book that covers complex themes accessibly and authentically.

Themes and links: World War Two, disability, growing up, empathy, hope,  trust, animals.


When Secrets Set Sail

by Sita Brahmachari


When quiet Usha gains a sister in the form of fiery new arrival Imtiaz, it seems at first like the pair will never get along. However, the girls’ home – also a refugee centre – holds hidden secrets which they girls must work together to uncover if they are to save it. Parallel tales from the past and present are woven together, creating mystery and intrigue in this richly-textured tale.

Themes and links: migration, racism, sibling relationships, trust, ghosts, heritage & history.




The above is just a small selection of the growing body of children’s books featuring adopted characters. We hope to continue to add to this list over time.  

Next month: Our next book list will focus on representation of characters in foster placements of all different kinds. Please feel free to get in touch with any of your own suggestions for inclusion on this list by Friday 8th March at or on X using @LiteracyJenS.

This book list was written in collaboration with Abida at Moon Lane Ink.








Posted in: Book Lists

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