Written by Debbie Schwartz, who is a source of inspiration at our adoption forum and is the Program Coordinator for Adoption Connection at Jewish Family Services of Greenwich in Connecticut. Click any of the titles to purchase them through amazon.com.
When you think of the books you loved as a child, what images come to your mind? Many of us remember bedtime rituals that included Goodnight, Moon and Pat the Bunny or a Halloween tradition that included The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. If you have strong memories of these or other books, chances are that what you remember most are the warm feelings associated with having a loving caregiver (parent, grandparent, favorite babysitter, etc.) reading those books to you.
As parents, we read aloud to our children for several reasons. Reading to our children promotes literacy. It fosters bonding and attachment by creating those shared memories and experiences that are such a formative part of our upbringing. The choice of books that we read helps teach our children things that we want them to know, such as our family values. And reading to our children provides an opportunity to talk with our children about things that we think are important.
For families formed through adoption, this opportunity to open a dialogue is the best argument for making sure that your home library includes a wide range of adoption books. Books such as Jamie Lee Curtis’s Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born or My Family is Forever by Nancy Carlson introduce adoption concepts in a positive way. When we read these books to our children we are modeling for them both the vocabulary of adoption and the idea that talking about adoption is acceptable and valuable. Other books, such as The Family Book by Todd Parr or Nina Pelligrini’s Families are Different introduce many types of family formations, helping children accept that adoption is just one way in which families might differ from one another.
As parents reading aloud to our children, we can use these books and stories of adoption to elicit our children’s feelings. For example, we might stop at an illustration and comment “When I look at the boy in this picture I feel sad because…” or “I think the girl in this story feels…” Sometimes we might ask our children to respond (e.g. “And what do you think?”) and other times we might let the moment pass. In either case, it’s important for us to reinforce the idea that sharing feelings is a positive and important part of being in a family. If we set the stage for our children to share their feelings with us when they are young, they are much more likely to come to us to share their feelings when they are older, and when those feelings become more complicated.
Books that talk about feelings in general, such as When Sophie Gets Angry…Really Really Angry or In My Heart by Molly Bang or Dave Cutler’s When I Wished I Was Alone are also valuable for adoptive families, although neither talks about adoption. Instead, these books help children understand how to identify and describe some of the feelings they may have. Another good example of this type of book is Jamie Lee Curtis’s book Today I Feel Silly: And Other Moods that Make My Day .
Our children will have different feelings about adoption as they grow – sometimes minute by minute! Having a range of books, including children’s adoption books, in your home library and they will help your children process these feelings and understand that these feelings (and the fact that they change) are a normal part of growing up.Adoption, adoption books, adoption connection, adoption forum, adoptive families, Childrens Adoption Books, parents of adopted children, RAD, talking about adoption