TCK Resources

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Resources for Third Culture Kids and those who are raising them. This page will be updated regularly to reflect new resources.

Definition:  

Third culture kid is a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their developmental years. The term was coined by Dr. Ruth Useem in the 1950’s but came into widespread use in more recent years. A TCK is an individual who, having spent a significant part of the developmental years in a culture other than that of their parents, develops a sense of relationship to both. These children of business executives, soldiers and sailors, diplomats, and missionaries who live abroad, become “culture-blended” persons who often contribute in unique and creative ways to society as a whole.” – from TCKWorld


Third Culture Kids – A Global Story from Marilyn Gardner on Vimeo.

Books:

  • Third Culture Kids: The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds Third edition by David C Pollock, Ruth Van Reken, and Michael Pollock. This new edition gives even more resources, new material on grief and transition, and a look at the broader category of cross cultural kids. This book is a must-have on your book shelf if you are raising TCK’s or cross cultural kids.  
  • Misunderstood:The impact of growing up overseas in the 21st Century- by Tanya Crossman. This is an excellent addition to TCK literature. Tanya gives us detailed narratives and interviews from hundreds of third culture kids. This should be on every parent and every school’s bookshelf.
  • Belonging Everywhere and Nowhere: Insights into Counseling the Globally Mobile  by Lois Bushong. Lois explores how to effectively counsel those raised outside their passport countries. She is an adult TCK and brings compassion and understanding into the journey.
  • Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child: Practical Storytelling Techniques That Will Strengthen the Global Family  by Julia Simens. Julia is a counselor who has navigated many relocations. This book is a workbook to work through as a family and helps children and adults develop their personal narrative.
  • Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing up Global edited by Faith Eidse and Nina Sichel (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2003). – A series of essays from both well known and not so well known third culture kids including Pico Iyer and Isabel Allende.  I love this book for it’s complexity, variety, and truth.
  • Safe Passage, how mobility affects people & what international schools should do about it by Douglas W. Ota. The author knows what it is to live between worlds and experience grief. “”Moving is one of life’s greatest challenges. The largest study in educational research history demonstrates that moving harms learning. But moving not only challenges students. The experience of lost identity extends across the lifespan, also affecting parents and school staff. Firmly grounded in psychological theory and cutting-edge neuroscience, Safe Passage maps the challenges and charts a course for individuals, schools, and accrediting bodies to navigate them. Although primarily focusing on international schools, the hopeful message within this book reaches into any school, university, or organization where human beings come and go.” from Amazon. 
  • Writing Out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads and Third Culture Kids by Gene H. Bell-Villada, Nina Sichel, Faith Eidse, and Elaine Neil Orr (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011) – this is more like a text book but a great resource to have in an organization’s library to offer to parents and kids.
  • Letters Never Sent, a global nomad’s journey from hurt to healing – By Ruth Van Reken. This book is Ruth’s personal story from six to thirty nine. “Fully updated and revised, with additional 30 pages of photographs and epilogue. Ruth van Reken describes herself as ‘a person in process’ – someone whose life is made up of the continuous interplay between her inner and outer journey. For more than twenty-five years, Ruth has traveled to over 45 countries sharing what she has learned while ‘listening to life’ about the often paradoxical nature of growing up globally. What she has learned resonates with expatriate children and adults from all sectors – corporate, diplomatic, military, missionary, immigrant and refugees.” From Amazon.
  • B at Home: Emma Moves Again by Valerie BesanceneyThis is a delightful children’s book. “Emma is only ten years old, but has already moved twice. Now, her parents are telling her the family is moving again. She’s furious, sad, nervous, and a little excited, all at the same time. Unsure of how to tackle these conflicting emotions, she turns to B, her faithful teddy bear. While trying to come to terms with the challenges of another move, what Emma really wants is just to ‘be at home’. As the journeys of Emma and B unfold, home changes once again, but home also begins to take on a new meaning that Emma can take with her wherever she goes.”
  • Arrivals, Departures and the Adventures In-Between by Christopher O’Shaugnessy. Christopher is an amazing story-teller and uses that gift well in this book. “Once, down a dark alleyway, a struggling TCK bumped into a mysterious Zen master, a grinning comedian, and an author of thrillers. That alleyway and those personas reside at O’Shaughnessy’s center. Get ready to grab your seat to steady your heart and to avoid falling over with laughter.” – Douglas W. Ota, Author, Safe Passage: What Mobility Does to People & What International Schools Should Do About It
  • Slurping Soup and Other Confusions – by Tonges et al. This book is a collection of 23 real-life stories from TCKs followed by activities to go along with the stories. An excellent resource for parents and kids in transition.
  • The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition by Tina L. Quick (Summertime, 2010). For years I’ve heard about Tina, but this September I had the privilege of meeting her. She is absolutely lovely. Her book is a treasure for university students and their parents. So many of us didn’t realize we were different from our peers in our passport countries until we entered university. This resource is “a guide book to help these students understand what takes place in re-entry and/or transition and gives them the tools and strategies they need to not only survive but to thrive in the adjustment. This is the first book written to and for students who have been living outside their “passport” countries but are either returning “home” or transitioning on to another host country for college/university. It addresses the common issues students face when they are making the double transition of not only adjusting to a new life stage but to a cultural change as well. Parents will appreciate the chapter dedicated to how they can come alongside their students, prepare them for the journey and support them throughout this major transition.” from Amazon
  • The Art of Coming Home by Craig Storti (Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2001) This book dives into the reentry process for those coming back from overseas postings. Not TCK specific but has some excellent advice.
  • The Anika Scott Series by Karen Rispin. These are five novels for middle schoolers and teens: Anika Scott is 12 years old and lives with her family in Kenya. It’s not easy to be 12 and it’s not easy to navigate a life between worlds. The reader joins Annika on her adventures and journey in Kenya as she learns more about herself, God, and the world she lives in.
  • Notes from No Man’s Land by Eula Biss. In this set of essays Eula Biss addresses race, identity, and belonging through looking at her own family and through history. This book is full of insight and wisdom on what it means to belong, to be home, to have privilege, and to live in a diverse country.
  • Global Mom: Eight Countries, Sixteen Addresses, Five Languages, One Family by Melissa Dalton-Bradford (Familius, 2013)  Melissa Bradford shares a journey of global motherhood that includes adventure and profound loss. This book addresses parenting, moving, and grief intertwined in a global journey. Melissa is amazing. 
  • Cat Tales by Pauline Brown – When the Brown family adopted a kitten to keep out uninvited guests like mice and rats, they had no idea how many adventures that Old Black Cat would get herself and her family into. From camping in the foothills of the Himalayas, to holding up a train in the busy city of Lahore, OBC and her family find themselves in many hilarious and tricky situations. These delightful, true tales follow their travels through Pakistan as they learn to trust God more with every adventure.
  • Books that talk about names and cultural identities. While not specific to TCKs it is a great look at how our names are connected to our identity and countries of origin. http://kidworldcitizen.org/2012/06/13/names-cultural-identities-in-stories-of-immigrant-children/
  • Between Worlds: Essays on Culture and Belonging is my book. These essays explore the rootlessness and grief as well as the unexpected moments of humor and joy that are a part of living between two worlds. Between Worlds charts a journey between the cultures of East and West, the comfort of being surrounded by loved ones and familiar places, and the loneliness of not belonging. “Every one of us has been at some point between two worlds, be they faith and loss of faith, joy and sorrow, birth and death. Between Worlds is a luminous guide for connecting—and healing—worlds.” – Cathy Romeo, co-author, Ended Beginnings: Healing Childbearing Losses
  • Passages Through Pakistan: An American Girl’s Journey of Faith – this is my memoir published in March 2017. “Memories of joy and pain, close friendships and loneliness interweave in this compelling portrait of an extraordinary childhood.  In Passages Through Pakistan, Marilyn Gardner traces a journey of growing faith and emerging identity in a small missionary community. From the close quarters of boarding school, to the strangeness of furloughs in her parents’ native Massachusetts, this honest portrayal of a young girl’s struggles with faith, friendship, and belonging will resonate deeply with a wide range of readers.” From Amazon.

Click on categories below to find further resources.

Websites

Movies

Articles

Blogs

Counseling

What resources would you add? Please share ideas in the comment section! 

16 thoughts on “TCK Resources

  1. Marilyn, how about adding “Cat Tales: the Adventures of an Old Black Cat and her family” – true stories from Pakistan. For kids of any age, but specifically for ages 8 to 12, and a good read-aloud for younger children. by Pauline A. Brown, available at Amazon

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    1. If you are ever interested in doing a guest post on the resources you provide it would be lovely! Or perhaps you might think of doing one for A Life Overseas? I’m the guest editor there and would love to have you do that.

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      1. I’d be honoured, Marilyn! Thank you! And I’m looking forward to that interview we’ll be doing with you about your new book. It’s been busy here, so I’ve gotta find our last e-mail about that and pick up where we left off. :)

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  2. Hi Marilyn, here are a few essential resources you really ought to have! I’ll add more when I remember where to find more; here’s one for now.

    Welcome to my Life – a 23min Korean TCK film – my favourite TCK film!

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