There’s a good chance that reading was a big part of your childhood. Whether it was a bedtime story told by your mother before she tucked you in or a young adult novel you couldn’t put down on the bus ride to school, reading helped shape your life when you were young and impressionable. That’s why it’s important that you, as a foster parent, make reading a shared activity between you and your foster child. Especially if you consider it’s something that he may not have experienced at home.
The benefits of reading to your foster child are well-documented. Reading exposes kids to rich language and abstract concepts which helps better prepare them for school. Reading also helps foster children develop better communication skills and enhances their abilities of concentration and focus.
But reading to your foster child does more than build solid groundwork for academic excellence–it builds a strong foundation for your relationship with one another.
Now that you know you should read to your foster child, the question remains: What books should I read my foster kid?
What Books To Read With Your Foster Kid: PreK through 4th Grade:
Chances are, you’ve read this one yourself as a child. The story of a young boy “whose imagination transports him far away from problems at home to a land where almost anything can happen” is timeless. This classic children’s book deals with everything from growing up to the power of imagination – all with some monsters and mischief thrown in.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if you gave a mouse a cookie? Probably not. But you can bet your foster child is quite interested in this proposition. Because, see, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to need a glass of milk. And if you give him that milk, he’s going to need a straw to drink it, a napkin to clean himself and a mirror to check himself. This story has been teaching children about cause and effect for decades.
Are you looking for something a little more modern for your foster child? Look no further than this 2016 Caldecott Honor Book that tells the story of real life international superstar Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. This fairy tale set in New Orleans will show your foster child that he should follow his passions, despite the challenges that lay ahead.
Maybe you’re looking for a book to help explain, in children’s terms, how foster care works? If so, this book is a “straightforward look at the issues of foster care, the questions that children ask, and the feelings that they confront,” according to a synopsis. The book covers the responsibilities of social workers, parents, lawyers and judges in a way everyone can understand.
What Books To Read With Your Foster Kid: 5th Grade through 8th Grade
Really, you can’t go wrong with any Roald Dahl book. The BFG (short for the Big Friendly Giant) is a story of a young orphan girl who befriends a giant who blows bottled dreams into the bedrooms of children every night. Their story of adventure and courage shows the importance of kindness – especially in the face of the unknown.
It’s unlikely you’ve been able to avoid hearing about Harry Potter. The seven-book fantasy series was an international success that spawned 8 blockbuster films and countless merchandise. But before it was a pop-culture phenomenon, Harry Potter was an orphan who didn’t realize he was capable of great – and magical – things. The story of friendship, family and faith in yourself resonated with both kids and adults.
The novel focuses on the life of Liesel Meminger, a ten-year-old girl living in Germany during World War II. Liesel is exposed to the horrors of the Nazi regime while living at the home of her foster parents. Liesel learns from “her foster mother, who always seems to make the right decision, even in the face of so much wrong,” and “her foster father, who introduces her to the power of words and books.” With their help, she fights to preserve the innocence of her childhood in the midst of her destructive surroundings.
If your foster teen is a high school student, it’s likely he already has an extensive reading list. That said, it’s important you encourage him to read for pleasure as well. The books he seeks out on his own will often end up being the most important to him as he grows older. Whether it’s a sci-fi thriller or a historical romance, literature helps people travel to different places, see new perspectives and think differently about the world.
Lloyd Nelson is the Digital Media Manager of Foster and Adoptive Family Services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.