Books for Children

Listed below are books that parents can use to help their children process their experiences as Third Culture Kids.

This list was originally compiled by Karen Wrobbel, Beth Wyse and Janet Blomberg and is used with permission from Interact—a publication produced by Interaction dealing with issues in TCK education and care. It comes from the October/November 2001 issue.

Books on Transition

One Thing Never Changes by Shawn Alyne Strannigan (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 1995) ISBN: 0-7847-0291-8

This story about a family’s move (written from a Christian perspective) includes activities and parental suggestions for helping young children prepare for a move.

Let’s Move Overseas by Beverly Roman (Wilmington, NC: B. R. Anchor Publishing, 2000) ISBN: 1-88889-116-5

This book provides activities, discussion starters and other resources to help young children process their move and learn about their new culture.

Harold and Stanley Say Goodbye by Jill Dyer (Australia: MK Merimna, 1998) ISBN: 0-9585272-0-2

The Bear family is going to the Philippines to serve Jesus Christ overseas. Elementary students Harold and Stanley react differently to the upcoming transition, one with excitement, the other with dread. The Bears go through all the pre-departure activities (taking prayer card pictures, getting passports, learning about the new country, selling the house and packing up). They model saying goodbye to favorite places, friends (school and church) and grandparents.

Good-bye, House by Robin Ballard (New York: Greenwillow Books, 1994) ISBN: 0-688-12526-3

In this book, a girl says good-bye to each room in her house and remembers special events there. This book could be used to help children implement RAFT.

The Lost and Found House by Michael Cadnum (New York: Penguin, 1997) ISBN: 0-670-84994-0

A young boy moves out of his old house and into a new one far away. He walks through the empty rooms saying good-bye. As he leaves town he looks at the familiar places one last time. After arriving at his new home he begins to make friends and feels more at home as his parents find places for familiar possessions.

When Africa Was Home by Karen L. Williams (New York: Orchard Books, 1991) ISBN: 0-531-05925-1

A preschooler’s perspective on reentry. Returning to New York when his father’s job finishes, he longs for the familiar ways of living in Africa. He articulates many of the things older children feel but are often unwilling to express.

Where in the World Are You Going? by Judith M. Blohm (Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press, 1996) ISBN: 1-877864-44-7

This activity-oriented book helps children work through the process of an international move. It includes not only discussion topics but practical activities that the child can do with a parent or teacher. This can be used either in going overseas, returning to one’s home country or in redeployment to another country.

Amber Brown is Not a Crayon by Paula Danziger (New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1994) ISBN: 0-590-45899-X

This book focuses on the feeling of children who are left behind in a move. It ties into the reconciliation aspect of RAFT. Third-grade Amber’s best friend Justin Daniels is moving. As the reality sets in, both struggle with their feelings. They have a fight and stop talking to each other. How they resolve this conflict allows them to share their feelings and manage the separation.

Ira Says Goodbye by Bernard Weber (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988) ISBN: 0-395-48315-8

Ira’s best friend is moving. Follow Ira’s struggle with his friend who idealizes the new location. The story illustrates by negative example how not to tell a child about a move. On a more positive note, it demonstrates how to help them say goodbye and gives hope for maintaining a long distance relationship.

Alexander Who's Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move by Judith Viorst (New York: Atheneum, 1995) ISBN: 0-689-82089-5

His family is moving, but Alexander has decided he’s not going. He investigates other living arrangements while at the same time saying goodbye to people, places and things. His parents gently help him work through his feeling, until he finds himself packing. This book provides a humorous yet realistic look at a difficult situation.

I'm New Here by Bud Howlett (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993) ISBN: 0-395-64049-0

This is a great book for parents to use in preparing their children for national schools. Spanish speaking Jazmine integrates into an English speaking school. Her mother prepares her, and a bilingual teacher helps, but Jazmine still feels on the outside. Eventually, she finds a way to demonstrate a special talent and is accepted by her classmates.

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993) ISBN: 0-395-57035-2

This Caldecott Award-Winning book is the story of the author’s grandfather who longed to return to his homeland after living for years in San Francisco. It compliments Say’s other book Tea with Milk.

The Year My Parents Ruined My Life by Martha Freeman (New York: Yearling, 1997) ISBN: 0-440-41533-0

Kate thinks her life is ruined when her family moves from California to Pennsylvania. Readers can identify with her feelings as she copes with the transitions and adjusts to her new life. When she returns to California for a visit, she’s disillusioned and discovers it’s not the same.

Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving (New York: Philomel Books, 1999) ISBN: 0-399-23152-8

This classic American short story was written while Irving lived outside the U.S. He sets a German folktale in the Hudson Valley as he describes Rip’s reentry into American life after a twenty-year sleep.

Books on Third Culture Kid (TCK) Issues

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (New York: Atheneum, 1972) ISBN: 0-689-71173-5

Like many TCKs, Alexander has a day in which everything goes wrong. His solution is to move to another country. This book can be used to help TCKs develop coping strategies.

Up, Up, and Away by Brenda Maxfield (Washington DC: Foreign Service Youth Foundation, 2000) ISBN: 0-9658538-2-9.

This book is a guide for children who are moving from one culture to another. Explains the third-culture-kid concept in children’s language. Includes activity sheets and encourages them to see the positive aspect of a mobile life.

Yang the Third and Her Impossible Family by Lensey Namioka (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1995) ISBN: 0-316-59726-0

While Yang is working very hard to fit into her new American culture, she struggles to do so because her traditional Chinese family keeps embarrassing her. This book is part of an excellent series which includes other books dealing with TCK issues:Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear (ISBN 0-440-40917-9), Yang the Second and Her Secret Admirers (published in 1998 and ISBN 0-316-59731-7), and Yang the Eldest and His Odd Jobs (published in 2000 and ISBN 0-316-59011-8).

Someone With You by Larry Libby (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers Inc., 1998) ISBN: 1-57673-317-3

Libby combines beautiful artwork with stories that help children remember Jesus is with them as they face the hard times as a TCK. This is an outstanding resource for family or classroom devotions.

Homesick: My Own Story by Jean Fritz (New York: Yearling, 1982) ISBN: 0-440-43683-4

This Newbery Award winning book is a true story. The author recounts her homesickness for America when she lives in China and her longing for China after she returns to the States. It deals with issues of belonging, fitting in and where does a TCK call home.

Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World by Deb Brammer (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press, 1994) ISBN: 0-89084-751-7

Sixth-grade Amy arrives in Taiwan and begins school at the international Christian school. She wants to serve Jesus and make friends with Chinese children, but discovers it’s not as easy as she had hoped. A realistic look at a middle schooler finding her niche in a new country and school.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1984) ISBN: 0-439-07959-4

This is an excellent book for non-North American TCKs. It is a true story about a Chinese girl adjusting to life in the U.S. It can also help American TCKs understand how the U.S. can seem like a strange place to an outsider.

Of Many Lands: Journal of a Traveling Childhood by Sara Mansfield Taber (Washington, DC: Foreign Service Youth Foundation, 1997) ISBN: 0-9658538-0-2

A workbook for TCKs to help them process their TCK experience and document the people, places and cultures they have experienced growing up.

Footsteps Around the World: Relocation Tips for Teens by Beverly D. Roman (Wilmington, NC: B. R. Anchor Publishing, 1999) ISBN: 1-888891-18-1

This journal for teens covers many relocation topics: feelings, journaling, timetables, money tips, new schools and friends, interviews, travel diary, arrival tips, coping with challenges, reentry, etc. A very practical tool.