Books that share fiction about foster kids can be tough to find. You always want to make sure you find something that is both somewhat realistic in terms of relating to the kids that are reading the book, but also something that isn't overdone with the negativity that can be present in the foster care system.
Fiction About Foster Kids
If you are looking for realistic fiction about foster kids - you have chosen a tough sub-genre to find. With that said, there are a few outstanding examples of foster kids in children's literature.
The Great Gilly Hopkins
The Great Gilly Hopkins is one of those memorable books whose characters' stories leave an impression on the reader for years. It has won numerous awards including a Newbery Honor award. Because of the language of the main character, as well as the subject matter, the book has been banned in numerous libraries and ranked 21st on the ALA's Most Frequently Challenged Books for the 1999-2000 school year.
Despite the somewhat crass language of Gilly, the main character, there is a real evolution in her character and behavior that digs deep into the emotions of what it's like to be a foster child, and finally find a place of belonging.
The Pinballs by Betsy Byars is so named because one of the lead characters in the book compares their lives to pinballs. They are moved around by outside forces without any control over their own lives. As the story progresses, the main characters learn to get through it all and love themselves and each other with more depth and meaning.
The Book Thief
The Book Thief is a book for an older young adult audience set against the backdrop of Nazi Germany during World War II. Unlike most fiction about foster kids, "The Book Thief", doesn't necessarily leave the reader with a warm and fuzzy feeling of the conquering power of love. Nonetheless, it does show the ingenuity that foster kids put in impossible situations use to survive.
Bud, Not Buddy
Bud, Not Buddy is another one of those novels that was extremely moving. So much so, that it won numerous accolades including the Coretta Scott King Award. One of the especially interesting things about this book is that it deals with so many issues at once. Bud, the main character, is put into an abusive foster care situation. In addition, he is African American and experiences racism during the story.
DealingWith Foster Care in Fiction
Foster care is a tricky subject to deal with in fiction. Many authors struggle to find the balance between being honest about the horrors of being a foster child, telling a compelling story, and telling about how redeeming it can be to find love and acceptance in familial relationships - even if they aren't biological.
For this reason, before you expose your children or class to some of the more mature themes found in fiction dealing with foster care, make sure that you yourself have read the book first. You may find that you can still use the book, but need to either edit language or skip parts.
As a teacher, you also need to be sensitive to the possibility that some of your children might be in foster care. While you might not be privy to that information, it might be a good idea to check with your school guidance counselor to see if they have any objections to your reading a certain book.