Books and Media: Third Culture Kids

Third Culture Kids


Emotional Resilience And The Expat Child
Julia Simens
354 pages, paperback
Summertime Publishing

Resilience is the latest buzzword for internationally mobile families. Julia Simens delivers what she promises giving a wealth of practical tips and storytelling techniques to help strengthen global families.

As a child expat, expert both professionally and with her own family, her nurturing, creative approach will give parents new ideas and hope. She clearly and concisely explores the psychology behind resilience without bamboozling the reader with science. I particularly like the workbook style pages that effectively coach parents in how they can build up children’s emotional intelligence: like an emotional Lego house, one emotion at a time.

Her techniques are probably most effective with children under ten. However, hold such universal, common sense truth, I am sure can easily be adapted for older children. Making emotional memory stories is such a great way for your family to connect regardless of age. This book is a must read for parents, educators, counsellors and indeed anyone interested in helping children thrive on the move

Reviewed by Jo Parfitt


Home Keeps Moving
By Heidi Sand-Hart
McDougal Publishing 2010

You own two or more passports. You boarded airplanes before you could walk. And you feel strange surrounded solely by ethnic majorities. If any of these statements ring a bell, you may well be a part of the third culture kids (TCK) phenomenon. Home keeps moving is the penned memoir of a childhood spanning continents, languages, school systems and multi-cultural friendships.

Heidi Sand-Hart’s journey is a touchingly personal account, and yet she stands as a universal voice for all of us who as youngsters knew more about training maids in the Far East than the latest MTV video clips. Combining diary format style writing with chapter headings on specific issues connected to the TCK syndrome generally works well, and is useful when wishing to refer back to certain observations at a later point in time.

Rather than a professional guide, this book rather feels like having a heart-to-heart with your closest girlfriend. We laugh, cry and sigh with Heidi through her frustrations and efforts to fit into each new environment, just as she has adjusted and coped with her current “home”. A must-read for any TCK - I was hooked till the early hours of the morning to finish reading a story so comfortingly close to my own reminiscences.

Jennifer Reischel (fellow TCK)


Reviewed by Jennifer Reischel

Understanding American Schools (the answers to newcomers’ most frequently asked questions)
By Anne Copeland Phd The Interchange Institute
and Georgia Bennett Bennett Educational Resources

This comprehensive and thoroughly researched book covers all the permutations and implications of the American education system; public; private; boarding; international and charter schools. Includes practical information on daily life, curricula, admissions, high school and proactive parenting. Finally, of paramount importance to all expatriates, the authors discuss how best to prepare your child’s education passport so that they may move seamlessly between education systems and countries.

Reviewed by Jo Parfitt

When Abroad do as the Local Children do
By Hill van Swol-Ulbrich and Bettina Kaltenhåuser
X-Pat Media

Introducing the characters of Ori the migrating bird, this book is perfect for eight to 12 year old expatriate children.  Packed with creative activities and assignments that will help the child to understand the moving process and the associated emotions. Silly and serious quizzes, tasks to help them pack their possessions, child-friendly websites and lots of ideas are included as well as places to keep special mementos and addresses. You can even contact Ori and his friend Ricki through


Third Culture Kids - Growing Up Among Worlds
Dave Pollock and Ruth Van Reken
Intercultural Press

This is an excellent book. It should be read by everyone who is living and working overseas, away from their home environment, especially those who have their children with them. Succinctly, with erudition, and with an easy-to-read style it examines and explains the problems experienced by a person who spends, or has spent, a significant part of his or her development years outside their parents' home culture. It contains much practical advice on how to deal with these problems. The term third culture was coined in the 1950s by Drs John and Ruth Useem, when they made a study of Americans who lived in India as foreign service officers, missionaries, technical aid workers, and business representatives. It was realised that there were expatriates from other countries who were undergoing similar experiences even though from different origins, styles and social stratification systems. There was a shared common lifestyle that was different from either their own or their host culture. The book is a result of much research that the authors have undertaken since that time into the effects of this third culture on the children of overseas serving ex-pats. However, the experiences so neatly described pertain not only to what they call third culture kids (TCKs) but also to adult TCKs. Furthermore, the wisdom and advice displayed in this delightfully readable book is also fully appropriate for those working and living overseas without children. It makes it clear why so many people who do a spell overseas get "bitten by the bug," and are drawn back to the place where they did their tour, often permanently. An overseas duty can be an emotionally exciting experience, but it can also be and emotionally disturbing one. This book explains why this is so, as well as explaining how the disturbances can be dealt with.

Reviewed by C. R. Bates (Beijing China)
The Third Culture Kid Experience: Growing Up Among Worlds

Raising Global Nomads
by Robin Pascoe

Like the move overseas, the move home relies on a solid and stable person to act as the emotional touchstone in order to help everyone else in the family through re-entry shock. That someone is typically the spouse. Homeward Bound is a repatriation reality check to help spouses create new, meaningful lives when they return from abroad.

Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World

Where in the World Are You Going?
Judith M Blohm
Intercultural Press

An entertaining activity book that helps young children, ages five to ten, through the process of moving abroad

Where in the World Are You Going?

Parenting Abroad
Ngaire Jehle-Caitcheon
Aletheia Publications

The author comes from New Zealand, her husband is Swiss and their two children are real Third Culture Kids who have lived all over the world, surviving war, evacuation and employer bankruptcy.  She also has a degree in psychology and a masters in sociology among many other qualifications which prove her suitability to write a book of this kind.  It is interesting, practical and full of insight, help and support for any expatriate family.  This book goes into great detail about how to understand, advise and motivate your children despite upheaval. It will help any parent to cope with such issues as saying goodbye, depression and education and considers each age and stage separately.  The author certainly knows her stuff and includes examples and case studies from parents and children all over the world to add authenticity to a book no parent should be without.

Reviewed by Jo Parfitt
Parenting Abroad

Global Baby
How you and your infant can move to a new country while smiling
Anne P Copeland PhD
Intercultural Institute

While American Dr Anne Copeland was on assignment in London as a professor of psychology and responsible for more than 1000 students, her defining moments had little to do with her expatriate assignment and her career. Instead, with a toddler in tow, and later a new baby to care for, Dr Copeland found herself with a more challenging role – that of an expatriate mother.  Since then Copeland has received world renown for her work in cross cultural training, and particularly, her research into the psychology of the expatriate spouse. This book has been written by a parent for other parents. It explains how to move with your children overseas and how it may affect them. There are tips on how to raise a bilingual child, how to survive long plane journeys and how to ensure you care for yourself too.  Importantly, it explains how to help your children retain a sense of home, and how parenting differs in other cultures. It is a small book, but practical and useful. Where else would you find a chart that converts the measurements you need not only for children’s clothing, but also for medicine doses?

Reviewed by Jo Parfitt
Global Baby

Unrooted Childhoods
Edited by Faith Eidse and Nina Sichel
Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Bury yourself in the childhood writings and recollections of a range of internationally acclaimed authors and Third Culture Kids. With contributions from Isabel Allende and Pico Iyer alongside Ruth van Reken and Pat Conroy this is no lightweight anthology.  Instead it is a thoughtful and honest book, which looks at the paradox of life as a TCK.  Find here 20 essays divided up into the four sections of enrichment, estrangement, restlessness identity.  Even without reading further, you recognise already that this editors understand exactly how it feels to grow up among worlds.  Each contributor analyses his or her own experience and considers how they were each affected.  Such comforting truisms will endorse the experiences and emotions felt by any global nomad.  Ken Wells, front pager editor of The Wall Street Journal has said of this book: ‘A poignant chronicle of the Diaspora of the heart – and the heart’s quest and longing for that universal place called home.

Reviewed by Jo Parfitt
Unrooted Childhoods: Memoirs of Growing Up Global