Expat Life

8 Essential Books for Expat Parents

When I first moved abroad, I had little idea that there are great books out there to help you understand the expat experience and give you practical tips. Now, it seems so many good expat books are published every year. Here are some book tips (non fiction) for every expat parent to understand their Third Culture Kids and this crazy global world they live in.

For Expat Parents:

  1. Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds- By David Pollock, Ruth van Reken and Michael V. Pollock.

This book is a classic in the expat community, currently in its third edition. It can help you supporting your child through international moves, and has also given the words to describe their own experiences to many any adult Third Culture Kid.


  1. Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child- Practical tips and storytelling techniques that will strengthen the global family. By Julia Simens

When I first read this book, it was on my ereader when my kids were 0 and 2 years old. It didn’t really resonate with me. However, I picked up a hard copy this year and it is definitely relevant for us now. This book helps me to give my children the emotional language they need with another upcoming move and with understanding their feelings in general.


  1. Misunderstood- The impact of growing up overseas in the 21st century by Tanya Crossman

Misunderstood is based on a survey of hundreds of Third Culture Kids from a variety of backgrounds. It includes experiences from boarding schools, dealing with transition and grief and the issue of home and passport countries.


For ambitious expat partners:

  1. A Career in Your Suitcase- A Practical Guide To Creating Meaningful Work… Anywhere. By Jo Parfitt and Colleen Reichrath:

When you feel lost abroad without your job and unsure whether you will ever be able to work again, this is the book to turn to. Full of practical exercises and personal stories, it will give you the tools to stay connected to your career and you will know you are not the only one feeling this way.


  1. A Portable Identity: A Woman’s Guide to Maintaining a Sense of Self While Moving Overseas. By Debra R. Bryson and Charise M. Hoge 

If you haven’t felt like yourself when moving abroad for your partner’s job, you are not crazy. Many expat partners experience a sense of (temporary) identity loss while they settle in a new location. This book has exercises to help you make sense of who you are abroad.


For Expat Couples:

  1. A Moveable Marriage, Relocate Your Relationship Without Breaking It by Robin Pascoe 

This book speaks frankly of the challenges for expat marriages such as the dual career (im)possibilities, isolation, and parenting overseas. Written with humor, it describes candidly and honestly how “like an earthquake, a move causes a seismic shift in the balance of a marriage,” and gives tips for rebalancing.


For culture shocked expats


  1. The Culture Map- Breaking through the invisible boundaries of Global Business by Erin Meyer


We all experience some culture shock or cultural misunderstandings abroad, don’t we? Written for people working in international teams, this book gives a great overview and provides examples of how cultures can be different and the practical implications this can have at the office. It is worth reading also if you do not work abroad, as it has many insights that can be applied to living among people from other cultures.


For Multicultural, Multilingual Families


  1. This Messy Mobile Life- How a MOLA can help globally mobile families create a life by design. By Mariam Navaid Ottimofiore

While moving to her 9th country, the writer found the time to write a guide for families navigating the mobile international life. It contains experiences from many families, advice from experts and exercises and conversation starters to help your own family embrace differences and strengthen your family bond abroad.


That was it for now. It is only a brief selection and good books are missing from this. I will be writing another blog about this soon with more titles, especially written for children. Any additions? Put them in the comments 🙂

PS. Take a look at The Expat Bookshop for more titles, of fiction and non-fiction related to expat life.
PPS. These expat books are also fun to read with your expat book club, see this article about creating your own expat book club.

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