Educating Kids About Skin Colour and Adoption

“Why is her skin a different colour to you?” my daughter’s five-year-old classmate asked me.

My daughter looked up at me with heavy expectation.

“Because Sophea was adopted from Cambodia,” I said. “Do you know where Cambodia is?”

The little boy shook his head.


“It’s a country in Asia, next to Vietnam and Thailand.”

“I’ve been to Thailand.” The boy jumped up and down.

“Well, next to Thailand is Cambodia. That’s where Sophea was born.”

“Ah.” He walked away.

Sophea smiled at me in approval.

It’s important that children feel comfortable asking about skin colour and adoption. It’s even more important that their questions are answered openly, with appropriate words and a positive tone of voice.

Later that day I said to Sophea, “It was nice that your friend was interested in where you were born. Why don’t you take a world map for Show-and-Tell next week so you can show all your friends where Cambodia is?”

“Yeah, and I can take the Cambodian flag,” she said proudly.

Here are some children’s books on adoption that will answer questions all children, adopted or not, want to know. Above that, they will teach young kids to celebrate race and all the different kinds of families that exist.

Families are Different by Nina Pelligrini



Borya and the Burps by John McNamara



The Family Book by Todd Parr



It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr



Is That Your Sister?: A True Story of Adoption by Catherine Bunin



My Family is Forever by Nancy Carlson



We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates



Beginnings: How Families Came to Be by Virginia Kroll



What is Adoption? Helping Non-adopted Children Understand Adoption by Sofie Stergianis and Rita McDowall

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