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The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  373 ratings  ·  66 reviews
There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together. A king and queen rule a beautiful and peaceful land. They should be full of joy and contentment, but they both feel a strange pain that worsens every day. Then a peddler's magic spectacles reveal a red thread pulling at each of their hearts. The ...more
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published January 1st 2007 by Albert Whitman Company
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Average rating 4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  373 ratings  ·  66 reviews

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Linda Lipko
Note that Grace Lin is also the author of the award-winning books Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky

Based on an old Chinese tale, the theme here is the bond between those who want to adopt a child, and the child that longs for adoption. Consequently, there is an invisible red thread, which is also unbreakable and it connects those who are destined to be together.

When the king and queen experience hurt in their heart, Fortunate, yet wondering why the pain in their heart
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is a fairy tale that brought me to tears! It is about a king and queen who desired a child and eventually got one by following the red thread that was tied to their hearts and a baby awaits at the end. It is a Chinese fairy tale and would be an amazing thing to share with an adopted child, especially one that came from another country. You have to read this book and I will bring it to class on Saturday.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Didn't love the illustrations in this book, but that's my only disappointment. It was a sweet way to explain to an adopted child why their family just wasn't complete without them. Especially applicable if the parents had to travel to pick up the child.
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This story is a fairytale about a king and queen who are attached to a red thread. The king and queen have heavy hearts and they set out on a journey to find where the thread is leading them. They end up at a small bundle of blankets at the door of a house in a village far away. The bundle turns out to be a baby girl and the king and queen are joyful and their hearts feel full and happy again. I liked this book because it introduced adoption in an interesting way. It also had realistic qualities ...more
Caitlin Wall
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Red Thread is a fairy tale about a king and queen who adopt a baby. The king and queen experience much pain in their hearts, which a peddler identifies as being caused by the pulling of red threads that are coming out of the king and queen’s hearts. When no blade can cut the thread, the two embark on a quest to find whatever is on the other side of the thread. They find a small village after a long journey, and a baby who is connected to the threads. The king and queen took the baby home. I ...more
Becky B
A made up folk tale/fairy tale based on a traditional Asian belief provides the basis for a story of a King and a Queen who must find the source of the red threads tugging on their hearts. It leads them on a long journey, and ends in a surprising place.

This is a sweet adoption story that can help families talk about what led them in reality to their forever match. Especially recommended for families who have adopted from Asia, but really any adopted family could use it.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Genre: Traditional Literature
Recommended Grade Level: Early Primary/ Primary

Based off an ancient Chinese belief, this book would be a perfect addition to any classroom as it shows that families can not only be formed in different ways, but also that they can look very different.
Rebecca Stark
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such a sweet tale! Great for teaching adopted children about their history (or even non-adopted children about adoption, should your family be called to it!)
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith
If you've ever thought, prayed or talked about adoption, read this book! If you have adopted children, read it to them!
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the most beautiful story!
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love this story. We followed the red thread to our son, too, feeling him tug at our hearts without knowing where he was. Beautifully told!
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture-books, 2018
Such a cute picture book. I loved seeing this concept in picture book form. It really warmed my heart ❤️
Louanne Mason
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is one of our girls favorite picture books. They are all from China and this is the most precious telling of what parents go through to adopt and how deeply they love their children.
Jo Oehrlein
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The story of a queen and king who follow the red threads coming from their hearts across the sea to another land (where they speak another language) and find the threads tied to a baby.
The pull of the red thread leads the king and queen to their baby.
Bethany Joy
Mar 08, 2018 rated it did not like it
So disappointed in this book. We have loved most of Grace Lin's work and I was excited to have an accessible book for my little ones about adoption. Sadly this book was entirely Adoptive parent centric, and completely erased the child history.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
3rd grade
Historical Fiction
I enjoyed this book a lot because I absolutely love the imagery. I can also relate to this a lot because of life experiences and feeling that thread pulling towards the one you love. I definitely recommend this book!
Tess Armel
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I think it is important to include texts that are as representative as possible for as many students as possible. Knowing many people with adoption stories through my life, I know this is a segment of the population that is underrepresented. With such a beautiful loving story to encourage readers, I can think of no better addition to my classroom library.
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Title / Author / Publication Date:
The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairytale/ Lin, Grace / 2007

Genre: Fiction

Format: Picture Book – print

Plot summary:
A story about adoption based on the ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together. It follows a king and queen who are rule a beautiful land. They should be happy and content, but they both feel a pain in their hearts. One day a peddler hears about their pain and uses magic spectacles
J-Lynn Van Pelt
Grace Lin, the author and illustrator of this book, said that she wrote it after “experiencing many warm and wonderful interactions with families with children from China.” And she dedicates the book, “to all the children adopted, the parents who loved them but could not keep them, and the parents who traveled far to find them.”

The book begins with a Chinese proverb that says “an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together.”

The story shows a European ki
Real Supergirl
As a fairy tale, this is a beautiful story. And it is, in fact, based on a Chinese folk tale.

However, as an adoption story, it is a little problematic if we think about it too literally.

Grace Lin herself writes about this, in a way that I think is maybe more harsh than I would have been:

"The Red Thread is a fairytale with a Chinese adoption theme. Grace noticed that many Chinese adoption groups had taken the legend of the red thread (a belief that people destined to be together are joined by
Jennifer Kim
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
“The Red Thread” is a story based off of an ancient Chinese belief about adoption. This fictional story is about a king and queen who are sad but cannot figure out why. Hearing about the pains of the king and queen, a peddler visits them with two pairs of spectacles as a gift. The king and queen soon discover a mysterious invisible red thread that leads them to a baby waiting to be adopted. I would use this book to introduce my students to the topic of adoption through an approach that is famili ...more
Mary Ann
Feb 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
The book begins with a preface: "There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together." So begins a simple, but emotionally powerful fairy tale about how one day a king and queen start to feel a tug on their hearts. The wise old peddlar shows them that there is a red thread leading out from their hearts, and they must follow it. They follow the thread, across a vast sea, to a foreign land. With each step, their hearts hur ...more
Allison Simpson
"The Read Thread" is a about a queen and king who have a heavy heart but they do not know why. To find their answer they come across a red thread belief. The red thread is cultural belief from ancient Chinese that represents an unbreakable bond that brings things destined to be together. The thread is displayed throughout this folklore representing the Chinese culture in that way but also through the illustrations based off the king's and queen's attire. The book also has you wondering what is g ...more
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Dramatic, stylized folk art, carefully worded text and a cleverly crafted story-within-a-story format combine to create an engaging story time snapshot that vividly illustrates the unwavering strength of parental devotion -- and the quiet power of children's books.

Listen to our chat about The Red Thread on our Children's Book Podcast:

You can read more about Robert’s Snow: Art Auction for Cancer’s Cure here:
Jean Samuelson
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
The legend about the Red Thread that connects everyone who is important in, or ever will be important in the the life of each child born, is fascinating. As an adoptive mother who has now completed the "circle" and knows our child's history, and his ancestors, this book was a fascinating read. It gives hope to the Chinese mothers who are forced to give up their female children due to the "one child" program, and it adds continuity to the birth, and life, of each adopted child out there.
Each chi
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I LOVE the idea behind this allegorical story: "There is an ancient Chinese belief that an invisible, unbreakable red thread connects all those who are destined to be together." It made me pause and think of who my red thread is connecting me to--and who I'm connected to that I maybe haven't even met yet. The story was written to explain about adoption to a young child. I didn't care for the story so much as that wonderful concept behind it.
I love this! It's a super cute, very well-designed picture book that deals with adoption of Chinese babies, which has been a huge trend in recent years. I love that the story mixes fairy tale with reality. It's great for adopted kids who want to know why they don't look like their parents. But it's also wonderful to read with every kid because it helps them understand adoption as well as developing tolerance for dealing with differences. Fantastic!
Feb 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, family
I love fairy tale books and this fairy tale was very original. The illustrations are creative and you as the reader follow the "red thread" page by page. "The Red Thread" is a story about adoption and how it can make parents so happy to have a child. This story could be read to any student but would be ideal for students who are adopted and feeling lost or confused. This story would be recommended for students k-3.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I just bought this in hard cover from Amazon. Was excited to get it. I really like the idea of the thread being attached to their hearts and the child pulling on it. I did feel like a had to paraphrase to make some parts appropriate in the beginning if story. I think they focus a little to much on the pain in the couples heart in story. All in all a cute story. I am so happy to finally start to see some adoption books for children.
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