Book review: I Don’t Know Why by Annice Thomas

I dont know whyBritMums were asked to review a copy of I don’t know why: Stories to help adopted children understand why they do the things they do by Annice Thomas and who better to ask than our very own in-house Adoption and Fostering Round-up editor Maryam Lane? Being an adoptive mother to three siblings, she has a very good knowledge of what it’s like. Here’s her honest review of the book:

‘I Don’t Know Why’ is an adoption book for adoptive parents to use to understand their children’s behaviour and to read with their child. I have read many adoption books in my time, but ‘I Don’t Know Why’ is a clear tool for opening conversation around life story work and attachment. Its bright colours, clear stories and explanations make easy reading for parent and child. The book is written by Annice Thomas, who is  a social worker with both professional and personal adoption experience.

The title of the book ‘I Don’t Know Why’ is a clear indication of the common response that many adopted children give when confronted about their behaviour. As an adoptive parent myself, I have heard this answer many times when children seem unable to stop themselves behaving in a certain way.  They really often do not know why but are grabbed by an impulse controlled by deeper emotional feelings. Children who have experienced significant change often behave in ways which seem out of place or challenging to those around them. To have a book for both parent and child that provides such a clear explanation is extremely useful for helping to heal the effects of trauma.

The book is divided into the stories of 4 adopted children: Fiona, Yasmin, Jakub and Shaniquia. Each story relates the background of the child and their feelings and emotions. The way the children respond to their situations, based upon their past life experiences, is explained at the end of each piece. This approach enables the adoptive parent-reader to learn the possible causes for challenging behaviour and why the child does the things that they do.

Each of the stories relates a different child with a different background. Not only are a wide variety of subjects covered such as neglect, abuse, alcoholism, bullying, stealing and poor self-esteem, Annice Thomas has also been careful to ensure that the characters are a variety of ages and races. Illustrated with bright pictures which will appeal to the younger child, the stories are common, realistic and believable, not sugar-coated.

For my own adopted children, I will definitely be using the book and particularly with my eldest. When it arrived, its bright cover made him make a beeline for it and he is waiting to hear about it. I expect to put it to good use to help him and me understand better some of the behaviour we experience. I will also be using it to talk about birth history and feelings around this. I would definitely recommend ‘I Don’t Know Why’ for using with your child to help them and you understand why.

I don’t know why: Stories to help adopted children understand why they do the things they do, by Annice Thomas and illustrated by Lisa Rivard, is published by Author House. It’s available from AuthorHouse, UK Book Depository and Amazon.

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About Maryam Lane

My own blog can be found at and I am on Twitter @MaryamLane where I have been delighted to find a small but tight adoption and fostering community who like me, love to chat. If you have something that you would like to say about adoption, fostering, social work or any related area, please let me know and I will do my very best to include you in the round-up. Likewise if you spot a great post by a fellow blogger who really deserves a bit of a shout-out, please get in touch. I’ll be keeping out an eye each month for those in the blogosphere involved in adoption/fostering but if I miss anything you can contact me at , via Twitter or my blog

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