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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Adoption Books for the School

Several of y'all asked which books Tonggu Daddy and I selected to donate to our Tongginator's elementary school library. I am a huge bibliophile and a former educator, so of course I found it difficult to narrow down my list. But never fear... I minimized the list to just fifty titles or so.

Kidding. I'm kidding, y'all.

We only purchase eight books for our Tongginator's school library, but I narrowed it down to my four favorites, the absolute must-haves topping my list.

#1 Adoption and the Schools: Resources for Parents and Teachers by Lansing Wood and Nancy Ng ($25). This complete resource book walks teachers (and parents) through the maze of dilemmas faced by adopted children in a school setting. A spiral bound book, it opens flat for convenient copying, so that teachers throughout the school and adoptive parents can access alternate, more inclusive lessons and expand assignments to include adoption-friendly language.

Topics covered include developmental perspectives, parent-teacher communication, problem assignments, adoption presentations for schools and classrooms, transcultural considerations, special educational challenges, the older child at school and recommended resources. Although not suitable for the students' school library, this book would make an excellent addition to a faculty resource or adoptive parent library.

#2 The W.I.S.E. Up Powerbook by Marilyn Schoettle ($15). This workbook empowers elementary school-aged children to decide how they wish to handle adoption questions. Published in a cartoon format starring an adopted owl, the book's goal is to teach that children have the right to choose how they will answer private or intrusive questions. The W.I.S.E. Up formula teaches four basic responses: walk away, say "it's private," share some information about adoption or one's personal story and educate others about adoption with correct facts. This book definitely contributed to the Tongginator's List of Ten Nine y'all read last week.

#3 Star of the Week: A Story of Love, Adoption and Brownies with Sprinkles by Darlene Friedman ($18). Newly published this summer, Star of the Week is a perfect addition to any school library. The story centers around Cassidy-Li, a kindergartner and Chinese adoptee who must create a poster during her turn as the class "star of the week." The story shows how she navigates her lack of infant pictures and birth information as well as the absence of any photos of her birth/ first family.

#4 Lucy's Family Tree by Karen Halvorsen Schreck ($17). Although a rather rambling narrative, this story about Mexican-born Lucy, who was adopted as an infant by an American couple, makes a solid addition to any school library because it is the only one of its kind. No other picture book discusses the difficulties an adoptee might face when assigned the task of completing a family tree assignment. Lucy, of course, completes the project successfully, shaping a traditional clay Mexican Tree of Life that includes images of both her birth/ first parents and her adoptive parents.

An end note entitled Rethinking a Family Tree provides alternatives to the traditional family tree that are suitable for children with non-traditional families. Some of these examples include the family houses, a loving tree or tree with roots, the family hedgerow or orchard, a genogram or a wheel pedigree.

As for other adoption books that I feel would make wonderful additions to the school library, I tried to keep in mind the diversity of experiences within the adoption community. I also strove to select books which explained adoption in the most basic of terms rather than those that delved into heavier topics more suitable for parent-child interaction rather than a classroom reading. I selected four that were on sale from a much longer list of books suggested by Adoptive Families magazine and/or adoptive parents I respect.

Some of the titles from that much longer list include: Borya and the Burps (Eastern Europe) by Joan McNamara, Lily (China) by Keri Campbell, Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born (domestic) by Jamie Lee Curtis, Mishka: An Adoption Tale (Russia) by Adrienne Ehlert Bashista, How I Was Adopted (domestic) by Joanna Cole, I Love You Like Crazy Cakes (China) by Rose Lewis, Families are Different (Korea) by Nina Pellegrini, We Wanted You (Central and South America) by Liz Rosenberg, My Family is Forever (China) by Nancy Carlson, Brown Like Me (domestic, transracial) by Noelle Lamperti and The Family Book (celebrating non-traditional families, including adoptive families) by Todd Parr.

I hope this helps a few of you! And please add any suggestions you may have to the comments section.


Aunt LoLo said...

As always, your perspective opens my eyes. Thank you. :-)

bbmomof2boys said...

Off topic - Little T is sitting naked eating her oatmeal watching Sponge Bob. I think she's gonna be a nudist!! :)

Ok - back on topic. I love the books you choose and have added them to my list. I'm dreading the family tree, baby picture, etc stuff at school. Maybe if I'm armed with some good books like these I can help the teachers to help me to help Little T.


Krista ~ Bits and pieces said...

A couple of these books need to make there way into our family libraby~

Thank you so much for putting this list together and sharing them with us.

Debbie B said...

Love the Wise Up book.
Great list. There's a few here I haven't heard of before. And I'm going to look for Lucy's Family Tree as I'm always interested in new ways to make a family tree.

One that you might like is Beginnings: How Families Come to Be by Virginia Kroll. It covers many different ways to form families, adoption, birth, foster care, kinship, etc.

Suzie said...

Thanks TM!! I look forward to adding these to my personal library.

Sharie said...

I have to say The Family Book is one of Amelia's FAVORITES has been since she was a tiny tot. In fact it is literally pieced together with packing tape.
I loaned it to my sister (a teacher) last year when they were doing a unit on families at school and was mortified when I found out they were passing our ratty book from classroom to classroom to share with the kids. I almost bought a new one - but the condition of the book tells it's own story.
My parents bought me Crazy Cakes the week after I told them I was adopting. They went to the bookstore and brought it to me at work. Mom had heard about it from a friend. That book is special in so many ways - it is how Amelia and I first started talking about her story.
Amelia LOVES How I was Adopted, and it was perfect when she was at the point when I needed a visual to get it across that she grew in her China Mom's tummy.
The others - well now I have some more books to add to our already HUGE wish list on Amazon! THANKS!

Gail said...

Great recommendations and you had a few I'm not familiar with...will be adding them. I love how you had Keri Campbell's Lily book, she and I have been friends for quite a while! :)

Desiree' said...

Thanks for the tips, have added these books to my list. I actually thought of home schooling....But really want the socialization for the girls....Still undecided. We get so many weird comments when I go to check out even preschools.
Very dissapointed with the FCC here. Tried and tried to get a play group going...any suggestions??

Janet said...

I have a few of these books too. Some are names I've never heard....I'll have to take a peek. :-)

Mamatini said...

Thanks, as always, TongguMomma for your insights and resources. I hadn't heard of #1 or #3 and will be rushing off to get them. "Star of the Week" in particular has been a challenge to navigate at times, though I have to say, all our teachers so far have been very receptive to suggestions.

rosemary said...

Thanks so much for providing a reminder (and an example) that we can all be doing this for our children's schools. I love it!!

The Byrd's Nest said...

I have never heard of that book "Star of the Week" .....I may have to order that one. You are good soul my friend.

Annie said...

Whoo Hoo!! More to add to the Tonninator's Tidbits of Wisdom folder for Lizzie!!! I actually have W.I.S.E. Up and think it will be great for Lizzie when she gets a little older!!

Colleen said...

Great idea about buying adoption books for the school library...I think I'm going to do that!!! You are brilliant(did I just make your night).
Sorry I have been such a blog slacker...been a bit busy this summer with Miss L
I'm trying to get back to blogging and catching up with my peeps!!!
Hope your having a great week!!! Thanks for all your support : )

Lisa said...

Oh but this is a wonderful and very comprehensive list...thank you! We have many of these titles at home but even so I found a few new ones! Like you, I'm always on the lookout for books that capture the essense of not just our experiences, but more importantly, theirs'.

We also love, "A Mother for Choco" as it gently explores transracial adoptions with child friendly tones and illustrations.

"Little Miss Spider" is another favorite and one of the first books Lauren ever read out loud independently.....its truly a magical book.

"A Mama for Owen" would be a wonderful resource for a child who has lost one or both parents(and due to a natural disaster) & is subsquently adopted as it tells of the search a baby hippo makes for his Mama following a disaster.

If I think of more, I'll drop ya a quick note!

I love your idea of donating these titles to a school library! You are amazing!

CC said...

I am more than just slightly embarrassed that I've never read any of these 4. Want to donate some to my son's school too? ;) Actually, his school is brand new so they are literally begging for books to go in it since there is no money budgeted for a (gasp) library. And no full time librarian either, so the kids can only occasionally check out books. :(

anymommy said...

This is so helpful, thank you!

Alyson & Ford said...

Thank you for sharing! I shall be buying them too.

Alyzabeth's Mommy for Eleven Months!

Kiy said...

I saved this post. GREAT book suggestions! I can see us not only sharing these with Eni's (future) school, but adding many to our own library.



Ruth said...

Love the list - many I have not heard of & will check out!
My girls really love "Over the Moon" by Karen Katz.

Saint Louis Family Robinson said...

Ooooh, book reviews! Love books reviews!!! THANKS!

We picked up The Very Ugly Bug by Liz Pichon on our last visit to the Botanical Gardens. It has been read three thousand time already. It's not an adoption book, but the message is feeling good about the skin you're in instead of trying to look like everyone else. A good book to add to any collection.