Books & Movies

  • 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.
  • Raising up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids by Lauren Wells. I had the privilege of reading and reviewing this book in March. Here is my review: “If we could ensure that our TCKs would grow up healthy and resilient, we would do it in a heartbeat. In Raising up a Generation of Healthy Third Culture Kids, Lauren Wells has gifted us with a gentle guide and a preventive health primer, unique in the field of third culture kid literature. This book is a goldmine of wisdom, organized in a practical and readable format. While we cannot know all our TCKs will go through, we can take a giant step forward by learning how to multiply the benefits of a global life and conversely pay attention to the challenges that can become stumbling blocks to healthy development. If you are working with, raising, or love third culture kids from any part of the globe, this book will give you practical ways to be proactive about the way you raise up third culture kids.”
  • Aftershocks by Nadia Owusu. Young Nadia Owusu followed her father, a United Nations official, from Europe to Africa and back again. Just as she and her family settled into a new home, her father would tell them it was time to say their goodbyes. The instability wrought by Nadia’s nomadic childhood was deepened by family secrets and fractures, both lived and inherited. Her Armenian American mother, who abandoned Nadia when she was two, would periodically reappear, only to vanish again. Her father, a Ghanaian, the great hero of her life, died when she was thirteen. After his passing, Nadia’s stepmother weighed her down with a revelation that was either a bombshell secret or a lie, rife with shaming innuendo.With these and other ruptures, Nadia arrived in New York as a young woman feeling stateless, motherless, and uncertain about her future, yet eager to find her own identity. What followed, however, were periods of depression in which she struggled to hold herself and her siblings together.Aftershocks is the way she hauled herself from the wreckage of her life’s perpetual quaking, the means by which she has finally come to understand that the only ground firm enough to count on is the one written into existence by her own hand.
  • 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.
  • Finding Home: Third Culture Kids in the World edited by Rachel Pieh Jones. This wonderful collection of essays addresses several aspects of being raised in a culture outside one’s “home” culture, raising children abroad, the difficulties of re-entering the home or passport culture, and transitioning into adulthood. (Review by Jenni Legate)
  • 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. 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 Besanceney. A delightful children’s book about a 10 year old girl who is moving. “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’.”
  • 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. 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.” from Amazon
  • The Means That Make us Strangers by Christine Kindberg. This is a debut YA novel for Christine, released in July of this past year. It is a beautiful story of identity, home, and living between. “The Means That Make Us Strangers is a beautifully written coming-of-age story that will satisfy experienced readers as well as younger ones. Christine Kindberg treats all of these characters graciously and with deep generosity. The result is a gorgeous meditation on growing up, experiencing love, and finding home.” —Pinckney Benedict, three-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, author of Dogs of God and Miracle Boy and Other Stories
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Worlds Apart: A Third Culture Kid’s Journey – this is my memoir published in March 2018. “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.


So Where’s Home? – a short vimeo film that looks at the complexity of the question of home.
The Road Home – an academy award listed short film. Watch the trailer below:

4 thoughts on “Books & Movies

  1. Hi Marilyn! I am a TCK too and love seeing your resources. Where can I watch the full “The Road Home” movie? When I search for it I find a different movie with the same name. Thank you!


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