10 Heart-Touching Books About Orphans

Orphanage Story

There are many modern and classic literature books about orphans. The question is, why are there so many orphans in children’s literature? Children often think about where they want to go when they grow up and what it must be like to be an adult. The orphans are overcoming their struggles by reading about orphans and most orphan tales in children’s literature. They’re finding homes and succeeding.

Most readers want to read romantic or heart-touching stories because of various feelings. The orphan-related books cover many aspects and are based on a true story. So readers wish to share sympathy and other emotions through the book characters.

Books about orphans allow readers to develop empathy and understanding for individuals who have experienced the loss of their parents or lack of familial support. Exploring their stories can help you better appreciate the emotional, psychological, and social challenges they face.

10 Books About Orphans (Children’s Classics)

If you search on Amazon or Goodreads for orphan-related books, you will find lengthy lists that can fill up your whole bookshelf. As readers and children like the orphan story, the authors focus on it and write many books about this category. I will discuss the top 10 books about orphans you will enjoy reading. Let’s start!

1. Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables series is about a young orphan. The first book starts when she is about 11 years old. Maryla and Matthew Cuthbert, older brothers and sisters, adopted her. They’re in their fifties somewhere and want to adopt the child to help her on the farm. The stories follow them from childhood up until adulthood into her children.

Anne looks at everything in a fresh new light, even like the littlest flower can be this magnificent creation. That’s a beautiful way to view life, take that lesson, and apply it to your life. Sometimes, many ugly things are going on in the world. There are a lot of hurtful things that happen. The book makes you think about the little things that make you step back and live more in the moment. That’s something that I enjoy about the series as a whole.

So the Green Gables series is made up of eight books. The first one is Anne of Green Gables. You can find holy books, like short story collections, that feature various characters from avidly. It’s a good mixture of sad and happy in all books.

Anne of Green Gables

Author: L. M. Montgomery
Average Rating: 4.8/5
Category: Children’s Classics
Available: Paperback | Mass Market Paperback | Kindle

2. The Secret Garden

Secret Garden was an all-time favorite book in Britain in 1911. So it’s over 100 years old, but still, it is the book that keeps its popularity. It is a cozy and heartwarming tale, even if it is a children’s book.

The main character is an orphan girl Mary Lennox, who lives in India with her parents. But when her parents die of cholera, she has to move to her aunt to her uncle, Mr. Craven, who lives in England. When she comes to England, things are very different for her. She is treated like someone and not the only one.

When Mary comes to Missile Fleet Manor, she fends completely in the gardens. Together with the maid, she eventually feels happiness, joy, and friendship. They become her first friends, which is very new and unusual. She stumbled across a garden that didn’t seem to have an entrance in the gardens. It’s only like a massive brick wall, and there’s no way. But eventually, she does find the door. While roaming around the grand manor, she stumbled across the key.

So this garden becomes Mary’s secret garden, which she tends to and brings to life. But the manor holds more secrets than gardens. It turns out that Mary has a cousin, Colin, who is the same age as her. Together Mary and Colin learn to walk. Also, Colins learns to believe he will grow up a strong and healthy man. You will love the friendship that is described in the book.

The Secret Garden

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Classic Literature & Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

3. A Little Princess

A Little Princess is a children’s novel published in 1995, and it combines some of the beautiful story tropes. It deals with issues of wealth and poverty and switching from one to another. The main character is an orphan girl named Sarah Kru, who is sent to live in a boarding school in London.

She comes from a very wealthy family and attends a boarding school for privileged girls. There, she is treated like a little princess. All of the girls and teachers love her. Also, she is treated to the most luxurious room and clothes.

Suddenly, she has to give up her huge room and start working for money. All the teachers and schoolgirls suddenly fall away and don’t want anything to do with her anymore. She goes through her life with incredible maturity and respect for others. It makes an excellent read, especially at Christmas time. If you’ve read the book, you probably understand the theme and meaning of life.

A Little Princess

Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Children’s Classics
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

4. Heidi

Heidi was originally written in German and later written in 1880. This is a great classic, sort of young adult version. This book is about a little orphan girl, Heidi, who lives in Switzerland. You see nothing but a beautiful description of the Swiss mountains and goats with bells. The author even describes the smell of the grass and the smell of the manure from the goats. The setting and the imagery descriptions are brilliantly done and gorgeous.

Heidi is a little orphan girl who is being yanked up the mountain to a little hilltop village in Switzerland at the beginning of the book. Her aunt is somewhat verbally abusive. So Heidi is an unloved and unwanted child. She’s had some abusive background. But Heidi is a charming, sophisticated, sweet, well-behaved little girl.

The book has a remarkable ending. The narrator is very good at pulling on the heartstrings and sympathy of the reader to root for Heidi as she goes along. So this is a very mature novel. It’s a slower-moving, old European setting, culture, and many undertone themes that a child would miss. So it won’t be fast-paced enough for them. But this book is excellent for a perfect, strong girl character with clean morals.


Author: Johanna Spyri
Average Rating: 4.6/5
Category: Literature & Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

5. The Witch Of Blackbird Pond

The Witch Of Blackbird Pond won the Newberry Prize and children’s literature, which is very well-written. It reminded you of parts of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. There are so many elements combined in this book because of the setting. The story follows a brave orphan girl whose name is Kit. She arrives on a boat to New England from Barbados.

She has a lot of dresses and fancy things. You can tell she comes from a wealthy family, and her family is no longer with her. She had recently lost her grandfather, so she’s highly desirable to many older people in Barbados. So she sneaks away, gets on a boat by herself, and crashes at her uncle and aunt’s house in New England.

There’s a lot of romance between the young cousins and other young men around the neighborhood. Sometimes you will think that Kit is going to become a witch. But instead, the witch is a nearby neighbor, and her name is Hannah. She’s seen as a witch because she’s all alone. They become friends at a time.

There’s a lot about her that you love, and Kit does many things you think are brave. This book saw the relationships between her and the witch, but the relationships formed between her and her cousins who live at this house.

The Witch Of Blackbird Pond

Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Children’s Colonial American Historical Fiction (Teachers’ pick)
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

6. Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted retells Cinderella’s fairy tale, specifically Charles Perot’s version of Cinderella. Three things make this book a favorite. First is the character of orphan Ella, who is not in the least bit meek or submissive. If she is even a little bit meek or submissive, it’s because she has to be. It means that Ella has to do anything anyone orders her to do, no matter what.

Yet, quite apart from this gift making Ella obedient, it makes her almost the opposite. Her personality becomes very obstinate because she doesn’t like to be forced to do things. You watch it grow throughout the story to the strength she needs.

The second reason is the relationship between Ella and Prince Charming. This story gasp develops the relationship and the focus of the relationship. The novel’s first half is not about romance but more about friendship. These two people form a very close friendship, and that friendship develops throughout the novel and eventually becomes feelings of love and romance.

The last thing that makes this a favorite is the same thing that makes pretty much all fairy tale adaptation novels a favorite. It’s the way that they explain everything. That’s the nature of fairy tales. But adaptations of fairy tales with logical explanations for all these things somehow ground them in reality. Most of these explanations are pretty creative. Some of them are not, but they’re at least adequate.

So I still like this novel. It’s a very easy read. Also, It has some great characters, a great story, and some great messages. There’s the message about being independent and yourself and not letting other people get you down. Also, It is the best book about orphans I have ever read.

Ella Enchanted

Author: Gail Carson Levine
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Paranormal, Occult & Supernatural Books
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

7. Great Expectations

Great Expectations is the tale of the young orphan, Pip, brought up by his violent sister and her wonderful husband, Joe. He meets three people who have a profound effect on his life. One is an escaped convict who provides food before he is recaptured, and the other two are the reclusive Miss Havisham and her beautiful adopted daughter Estella. After the humble beginnings, Pip comes into some money and goes to live as a gentleman in London. But these three people continue to haunt and influence his life.

I found the characters in this to be powerful. Miss Havisham is one of the most exciting characters in the book. Then other characters like Herbert Pocket and Joe Lambic are well painted and jump off the page.

Pip is one of the least interesting characters in the book. He can be a little dull and makes many questionable decisions, which can be frustrating for a reader. But it also makes the book quite unusual and involves the lead. There have been a lot of adaptations to it.

Great Expectations

Author: Charles Dickens
Average Rating: 4.5/5
Category: Coming-of-Age Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Mass Market Paperback

8. The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking was written in 1945. Any age of the child can read this book. Pippi Longstocking is an orphan. Orphans are very common in children’s literature, particularly in older children’s literature. Pippi is an independent and strong girl. This theme of strength here, especially girls having the strength and overcoming strife, is rampant in this book.

Each chapter is about Pippi overcoming something. She goes on an adventure quest to discover items like treasure hunting. You will see her braveness when she stands up to the policeman and defies him. Even though she’s terrified, Pippi goes to school for the first time. She goes to the circus, jumps into the ring, and wrestles with the ringmaster.

Is this tremendously strong, courageous girl portrayed as happy and carefree and loving her life? There is an underlying theme of education. In many children’s literature, you see the education theme and its importance. Consider the parallels, themes, and comparisons between Anne of Green Gables and Pippi. You will find very similar red hair, red freckles, and orphans. So there’s a lot to analyze there and a lot of enjoyable.

The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking

Author: Astrid Lindgren
Average Rating: 4.8/5
Category: Action & Adventure
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle

9. The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book starts with a man, Jack, walking through a house and murdering a family. The son of this family is a toddler, and he manages to escape. His family comes as ghosts and asks the graveyard ghosts to take responsibility for their toddler son and raise him. So the little orphan boy is being raised by the ghosts of this graveyard and learning about the world through the lens of people who have been dead for a long time.

Before going into this novel, one thing to know is that The Jungle Book heavily influences this. So it has a similar vibe to that book. It follows his life in snippets, not one continuous story. You will love how all the ghosts are from different periods and are products of their time.

They had the same viewpoints and morals when they were alive. In each chapter, the boy is a certain age, tackles, and learns a different lesson. Then, in the next chapter, he’s a little older and knows something new. So each chapter has its miniature plot.

The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Children’s Scary Stories
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Hardcover | Kindle | Audio CD

10. Emily of New Moon

In the first book, Emily of New Moon, we follow Emily, orphaned and sent to live with her snobbish relatives. She’s part of this old family, but her parents never participated in any of that. So up until this point, she grew up living a very normal, not wealthy, life. She was sent to live with her relatives. It’s about her finding her place and growing up by the end of the book. She’s 13 years old and beginning to leave her childhood behind.

One of the things that I loved about this book is that Emily is in a very transitional age. She is still so much a child in how she plays and views the world, things that she knows about.

At the same time, she’s dealt with some heavy things, like losing her parents and dealing with grief, living in a place where she doesn’t have many friends. So it’s about her beginning to grow up. Emily’s character is what made me love this book. She is a writer, poet and loves nature. If something happens, if she has a conflict with someone, she has to write it out, or she won’t feel like herself again. The writing is generally beautiful, but not the descriptions and the language.

Emily of New Moon

Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Average Rating: 4.7/5
Category: Teen & Young Adult Fiction
Available: Audiobook | Paperback | Kindle

More books list orphan related

  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
  2. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  3. A Forest of Doors: An Orphan’s Quest – L.A. Muse
  4. Lost Love’s Return – Alfred Nicols
  5. A Brief History of Montmaray – Michelle Cooper
  6. The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events) – Lemony Snicket
  7. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  8. Ballet Shoes – Noel Streatfeild
  9. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry – Gabrielle Zevin
  10. Pictures of Hollis Woods – Patricia Reilly Giff
  11. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
  12. The Mysterious Benedict Society – Trenton Lee Stewart
  13. The Boxcar Children – Gertrude Chandler Warner
  14. Maniac Magee – Jerry Spinelli
  15. The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison
  16. Natasha’s Story – Michael Nicholson
  17. Peter and the Starcatchers – Dave Barry
  18. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  19. Gathering Blue – Lois Lowry
  20. Black Mamba Boy – Nadifa Mohamed
  21. The Wonderling – Mira Bartok
  22. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
  23. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken
  24. I, Coriander – Sally Gardner
  25. The Girl with All the Gifts – M.R. Carey
  26. Child of the Ghosts – Jonathan Moeller
  27. Eight Cousins – Louisa May Alcott
  28. Daddy-Long-Legs – Jean Webster
  29. Bambi – Felix Salten
  30. The Witches – Roald Dahl
  31. Hannah – Kathryn Lasky
  32. The Wanderess – Roman Payne
  33. The Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  34. Acorna: The Unicorn Girl – Anne McCaffrey
  35. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
  36. Silas Marner – George Eliot
  37. Redwall – Brian Jacques
  38. The Red Queen’s Daughter – Jacqueline Kolosov
  39. Splendors and Glooms – Laura Amy Schlitz
  40. The Orphan Keeper – Camron Wright

Books about orphans with powers

One popular book series about orphans with powers is “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs. The series follows Jacob Portman, who discovers a hidden home for children with unique abilities. He learns more about the children and their powers and struggles with a dangerous world of supernatural creatures and time loops.

Another series is “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart. The story follows a group of gifted orphans who a mysterious benefactor recruits to save the world from a dangerous threat. Each member of the society has a unique talent that helps them solve puzzles and outsmart their enemies.

“The Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá is a graphic novel series featuring seven children a billionaire adopts after being born under mysterious circumstances. Each child has a unique power, and the series follows their struggles.

Middle-grade books about orphans

Here are some popular ones:

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: The series follows Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: The series follows the Baudelaire siblings orphaned after their parents die in a fire. They are sent to live with their distant relative, Count Olaf, who has evil intentions.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett follows Mary Lennox, an orphan sent to live with her uncle in England. She discovers a secret garden and forms a friendship with a boy named Dickon and her cousin Colin.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: The book follows Anne Shirley, an orphan who an elderly brother and sister in the fictional town of Avonlea adopt.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood: The series follows Penelope Lumley, a recent Swinburne Academy for Poor Bright Females graduate. She is hired to be a governess for three children who wolves raised.

Book series about orphan siblings

Here are some book series about orphan siblings that you might enjoy:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner follows the four Alden siblings who become orphans and decide to live in an abandoned boxcar rather than go to a foster home. They have various adventures and solve mysteries together.

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall: The series follows four sisters – Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. They are not technically orphans; their mother died, and their father is absent. They have many adventures together, including vacations and dealing with their father’s new girlfriend.

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry follows the four Willoughby siblings who are unhappy with their neglectful parents and decide to find new parents to adopt them. They meet a nanny, a candy magnate, and an army commander, among others.

The Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright: The series follows the four Melendy siblings who are left in the care of their father after their mother dies. They live in a big house in the country and have adventures together.

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood: The series follows Penelope Lumley, a recent Swinburne Academy for Poor Bright Females graduate who becomes the governess of three siblings. The siblings have many quirks and challenges but learn to adapt to their new life together.

Nonfiction Books About Orphans

Here are some nonfiction books about orphans:

Orphan Train – A Novel by Christina Baker Kline: This book is a fictionalized account of the real-life orphan trains that transported orphaned and homeless children from cities on the East Coast to the Midwest between 1854 and 1929.

The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin: This book tells the true story of a blizzard that hit the Midwest in 1888 and how it affected thousands of people.

Orphan Justice – How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting by Johnny Carr: This book explores ways to care for orphans worldwide, including through advocacy, mentorship, and support for adoption and foster care.

A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah: This memoir tells the story of the author’s experiences as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone, where he was orphaned and forced to fight.

The Lost Children – Reconstructing Europe’s Families After World War II by Tara Zahra explores the efforts to reunite families and care for orphaned children after World War II, particularly in Eastern Europe.

Why are there so many books about orphans?

There are many reasons why orphans are a common theme in literature. Here are a few possible explanations:

Emotional resonance: A child growing up without parents or a family is inherently sad and emotionally resonant. It can create empathy in readers and make them root for the protagonist.

Relatable conflict: Orphans face unique challenges, such as finding a sense of belonging or a stable home. These struggles can be relatable to readers who have experienced similar issues with complex family dynamics.

Symbolism: Orphans can also symbolize more significant societal issues, such as poverty, social inequality, and the breakdown of the family unit. By exploring these themes through the lens of an orphan protagonist, writers can shed light on critical social issues.

Narrative convenience: From a storytelling perspective, orphans can be helpful because they have more freedom to go on adventures and make their own choices without the constraints of parents or guardians. This can make for a more exciting and unpredictable plot.

These books provide an opportunity to gain new perspectives, develop empathy, and explore universal themes such as identity, resilience, and the power of human connection. Such books can raise awareness and encourage discussions about the challenges orphans face within specific societal frameworks.

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Pauline Jackson

I like to talk about popular books. My book review inspires you to read and save time. Also, I summarize the book and give you the best lessons or ideas that can change your life. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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