National CASA Book List
The National CASA Association offers the following book list to help improve and inspire your service to children. Program Services and Communications staffs teamed up to bring you this annotated list of more than 100 books, organized by topic.
Starred listings (*) were submitted by members of the CASA network for inclusion on this list. We encourage you to submit your own book list suggestions by completing this short form (69 KB PDF) and emailing it to staff@CASAforChildren.org.
Also, view online book club resources created by National CASA.
*A Child Called It, Author: Dave Pelzer, Audience: Volunteer
A controversial memoir describing horrific abuse sustained by the author as a child, before he was finally rescued by an astute teacher.
A Deep Dark Secret, Author: Kimberla Lawson Roby, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Sexually abused for five years, studious 12-year-old Jillian Maxwell lives in terror of her pedophile stepfather. An intense gem in an authentic voice.
As I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Author: Eileen Munro, Audience: Volunteer
A true story of neglect and abuse
Broken, Author: Shy Keenan, Audience: Volunteer
A shocking true story of abuse.
Child C, Author: Christopher Spry, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Surviving a foster mother's reign of terror.
Damaged, Author: Cathy Glass, Audience: Volunteer
A small girl is placed into a foster home (the author's) and is unable to form relationships and mature due to past abuse. "I liked this book because it showed some of the results of both physical and sexual abuse on a child's ability to grow and mature normally."
*God Must Be Sleeping, Author: Gregg Tyler Milligan, Audience: Volunteer
A recovery memoir in which the author draws readers into his insights and the path he traveled along the road from childhood abuse to healing and deliverance. Milligan provides readers proof that no matter what struggles afflict us, we can all emerge amazingly strong and drive headlong into the possibilities that await us.
Mummy Told Me Not to Tell, Author: Cathy Glass, Audience: Volunteer
When Wayne arrives at Cathy's door at 7 years old, he has already passed through the hands of four different carers in four weeks. As the details of his short life emerge, it becomes clear that to help him, Cathy will face her biggest challenge yet.
Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept: Volunteer and Child, 3-8 years old
Illustrated picture book that sensitively broaches the subject of keeping our children safe from sexual interference. Includes discussion questions to guide conversations with children about the story.
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Authors: Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz, Audience: Volunteer
Traumatized children can teach us about loss, love and healing. A psychiatrist carefully examines and explains attachment disorders including RAD.
The Glass Castle, Author: Jeanette Walls, Audience: Volunteer
In her childhood memoir, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls offers a blow-by-blow description of growing up with parents whose capacity for loving their children is greater than their ability to care for them. Read a review of The Glass Castle in the Winter 2007 Connection magazine (1.5 MB PDF, page 15)
*Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror, Author: Judith Herman, Audience: Volunteer
Trauma and Recovery allows the reader to develop a complex, multi-layered understanding of trauma and its effects on the human spirit. From a broad political frame to detailed accounts of individual experiences, Herman explores the causes and effects of traumatic experiences, including domestic violence and child abuse. Trauma and Recovery will shift how the reader understands and responds to traumatic experiences.
What Daddy Did, Author: Donna Ford, Audience: Volunteer
The shocking true story of a little girl betrayed.
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Broken Cord, Author: Michael Dorris, Audience: Volunteer
This is the heartrending story, full of compassion and rage, of how the author's adopted son grew up mentally retarded, a victim of fetal alcohol syndrome, a boy whom no amount of love could make whole. The volume includes a short account of his own life by the 20-year-old Adam.
Every Year On Your Birthday, Author: Rose A. Lewis, Audience: Child
A mother relates her thoughts and emotions on her daughter's birthdays, reflecting on the child's birth in China to her fifth birthday. Throughout, the mother preserves her daughter's Chinese heritage and includes multicultural layers in her upbringing.
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes, Author: Rose A. Lewis, Audience: Child
Lewis's sweetly sentimental picture-book debut plays out like a love letter to her adopted Chinese daughter.
I See You, I See Me, Author: Cliff Greenberg, Audience: Volunteer and Child
I see you, I see me is for those who may have questions about themselves, their new families and their birth families. This book shows that what is most important is to reassure the child that she is special and loved.
My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You, Author: Kevin Leman, Audience: Child
My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You creatively celebrates the adopted child. Read this book with your adopted child to show him or her the never-ending reach of your love.
Parents Wanted, Author: George Harrar, Audience: Child
The tale of a 12 year old boy who has lived in series of foster and group homes and now gets a chance to be adopted.
Shaoey and Dot—Bug Meets Bundle, Author: Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman, Audience: Child
An endearing tale told from the point of view of one little ladybug, Dot, who happens upon a mysterious bundle one sunny day. Written by Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth, this heartwarming tale is inspired by the true story of their adoption of three little girls from China. It is a story of hope and faith for all families who have been blessed by a "lost little bundle of love."
Tell Me Again About The Night I Was Born, Author: Jamie Lee Curtis, Audience: Child
A sweet and sunny look at adoption, the story is framed as a much-loved and clearly much-requested family tale. This book simply affirms family love, the pleasure parents feel about new babies, and how pleased children are to hear the story of their birth.
The Red Blanket, Author: Eliza Thomas, Audience: Child
A woman takes a soft red blanket with her to the orphanage in China where she is adopting an infant. The dazzling red blanket is the only comfort the baby finds on that first day. Over the years, the blanket becomes threadbare and fragile while the relationship between mother and daughter has strengthened.
The Limits of Hope: An Adoptive Mother’s Story, Author: Ann Kimble Loux, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Loux tells the story of her family's decision to adopt two sisters removed from their alcoholic biological mother. This personal account tells of Loux's attempt to raise these girls along with her three biological children. In the conclusion, Loux suggests alternatives to traditional adoption for the care of troubled older children.
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Child Advocate Skill-Building
A Question of Balance: Decision Making for CASA/GALs, Author: Janet Ward, Audience: Volunteer
Easy to read narrative and sample interview questions that pull together the “how” and “why” of the 30+ hour National CASA/GAL pre-service training for volunteers.
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Child-Centered Practices for the Courtroom and Community, Author: Lynne F. Katz, Audience: Volunteer
A guide to working effectively with young children and their families in the child welfare system.
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Child Welfare/Research and Evaluation
Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel's Legacy, Author: Holly Schlaack, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Invisible Kids tells the stories of many children and foster families. It tells them straight and backs them up with statistics and facts that show why the system works, why it doesn't, and where it needs help. It describes ProKids Building Blocks, the program Schlaack created for early identification of red flags in the lives infants and toddlers. It also identifies more than a dozen ways that anyone can make a difference.
No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, Author: Edward Humes, Audience: Volunteer
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Humes spent 1994 surveying the largely futile attempts of Los Angeles to deal with its juvenile crime. He concentrates here on a few who have not let themselves be overwhelmed by the deluge of defendants-80,000 cases are pending at any given time. Humes follows closely the cases of seven young people who were caught up in the system, three of whom have been saved by it. Maybe.
On-line Interactive Court Prep Book For Children, Author: California Courts, Audience: Volunteer and Child
What's Happening in Court, an interactive book that helps children going to court to understand legal proceedings, is now available in Spanish. Through online games and other activities, ¿Qué Sucede en la Corte? introduces Spanish-speaking children to court processes and the people and terminology they might encounter in the judicial system.
Somebody Else’s Children, Author: John Huber and Jill Wolfson, Audience: Volunteer
This raw, unmediated portrait of the machinery of juvenile justice, which includes the voices of the families and children as well as of service providers, reveals how intricate and interconnected the problems are. Writing with admirable conviction and convincing urgency, follow children and their families through shelters, courts and foster homes to see how the system really works.
The Way We Never Were, Author: Stephanie Coontz, Audience: Volunteer
In this book, Coontz contends, the nuclear family was elevated to a central source of personal satisfaction only in the late 19th century, thereby weakening people's community ties and sense of civic obligation. Coontz disputes the idea that children can be raised properly only in traditional families. Viewing modern domestic problems as symptoms of a much larger socioeconomic crisis, she demonstrates that no single type of household has ever protected Americans from social disruption or poverty.
Turning Stones, Author: Marc Parent, Audience: Volunteer
In this outstanding work of social commentary, Parent describes the harrowing conditions he worked under and the brutalization he witnessed during the four years he was employed as a caseworker by New York City's Emergency Children's Services. Parent convincingly argues for public scrutiny of child welfare agencies as well as a societal commitment to protecting children.
Within Our Reach, Author: Lisbeth B. Schorr, Audience: Volunteer
In this solidly researched book, the author demonstrates that the knowledge and techniques exist to decrease the incidence of welfare dependency, poor single-parent families and alienated, uneducated youth, and describes 24 programs that have proved successful in changing the lives of seriously disadvantaged children.
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Communication - with funders, volunteers, employees
Fundraising: Hands-on Tactics for Nonprofit Groups, Author: Peter L. Edles, Audience: Volunteer
Fundraising, Second Edition, shows how your nonprofit organization can design and run successful fundraising campaigns. You'll find sound, effective strategies and insider tips for cultivating potential donors, building a powerful case for your drive, soliciting large gifts, obtaining foundation grants, creating direct mail packages, and implementing high-profile, imaginative campaigns that top consultants use to get results.
Perfect Phrases for Building Strong Teams: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Fostering Collaboration, Encouraging Communication, and Growing a Win, Author: Linda Eve Diamond, Audience: Volunteer
Whether you're a project manager, department head or CEO, you have to choose the perfect words to inspire real teamwork. This quick-reference guide addresses all the issues you could possibly encounter working with a team, offering hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for every situation.
Perfect Phrases for Managers and Supervisors, Author: Meryl Runion, Audience: Volunteer
This second edition, has been completely revised to help you communicate in today’s workplace, where collaboration, cooperation, and personalization are critical to building an efficient, productive work environment.
Perfect Phrases for Motivating and Rewarding Employees, Author: Harriet Diamond, Audience: Volunteer
Hundreds of ready-to-use phrases for encouraging and recognizing employee excellence.
Perfect Phrases for Writing Grant Proposals, Author: Beverly Browning, Audience: Volunteer
With this comprehensive, user-friendly approach to grant writing, you'll be able to tackle the various proposal formats, create a professional purpose statement, and back up your plan with solid data. Plus, you'll discover some insider secrets that will really get the attention you want, and the funding you need.
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Recruiting and Managing Volunteers, Author: John L. Lipp, Audience: Volunteer
Volunteers provide vital services to millions of people each year. However, because of their work's special nature, they're one of the most challenging work forces to manage and retain. Lipp has managed these workers for over 20 years and shares his experience in recruiting, balancing paid and volunteer staff, creating schedules that work, addressing the transient nature of volunteers, motivation, and retention.
The Only Grant-Writing Book You'll Ever Need, Author: Ellen Karsh, Audience: Volunteer
Veteran grant writers Karsh and Fox not only rely on years of experience but also on interviews with dozens of foundations, associations, and government organizations to provide readers the best current thinking around a very tedious subject.
The Power of Giving, Author: Azim Jamal, Audience: Volunteer
Simple and easy to use, The Power of Giving provides a wealth of down-to-earth ideas, exercises and real-life stories that reveal to each reader the unique gifts he or she has to give-including kindness, ideas, advice, attention, hope, and more-and the many ways you can benefit from giving them, from better health to better job prospects.
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A People's History of the United States: 1492-Present, Author: Howard Zinn, Audience: Volunteer
Howard Zinn infuses the often-submerged voices of blacks, women, American Indians, war resisters, and poor laborers of all nationalities into this thorough narrative that spans American history from Christopher Columbus's arrival to an afterword on the Clinton presidency.
Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Author: Bell Hooks, Audience: Volunteer
An examination of how black women, from the seventeenth century to the present day, were and are oppressed by both white men and black men and by white women. Illustrating her analysis with moving personal accounts, Ain't I a Woman is deeply critical of the racism inherent in the thought of many middle-class white feminists who have failed to address issues of race and class.
Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America/25th Anniversary Edition, Author: LeRone Bennett , Audience: Volunteer
An amazing collection of forgotten events that greatly impacted this nation. More than just black history, but a huge chunk of American history in general.
Black and White Styles in Conflict, Author: Thomas Kochman, Audience: Volunteer
Shows a lay audience the value, integrity and aesthetic sensibility of black culture, and moreover the conflicts which arise when its values are treated as deviant version of majority ones.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, Author: Dee Brown, Audience: Volunteer
Based largely on primary source materials, this volume details how white settlers forced Indian tribes off the plains, often simply by killing them. Though Hollywood and penny dreadfuls portrayed Indians as red devils who launched unprovoked attacks on innocent homesteaders, Brown's research shows that the opposite is closer to the truth.
Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America, Author: Joseph Barndt, Audience: Volunteer
This book analyzes racism as it is today and the ways it has changed or not changed over the past few decades. Most important, the book focuses on the task of dismantling racism, how we can work to bring it to an end and build a racially just, multiracial and multicultural society.
Europe and the People Without History, Author: Eric R. Wolf, Audience: Volunteer
The intention of this work is to show that European expansion not only transformed the historical trajectory of non-European societies but also reconstituted the historical accounts of these societies before European intervention. It asserts that anthropology must pay more attention to history.
Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity, Author: Andrew Solomon, Audience: Volunteer
Award winning author and NY Times reporter exploring horizontal identity (rather than vertical identity) in children who are different: autistic, deaf, dwarf, schizophrenic, autistic. Interviews with individuals and family members about being accepted as you are.
For Whites Only, Author: Robert W. Terry, Audience: Volunteer
An excellent book that helps white people understand the bases and assumptions and themes that underlie our own racism. The Rev. Terry of the Detroit Industrial Mission has laid out all the privileges we don't even think about, and helps us to understand them and move through them and past them into a specific and conscious anti-racism.
From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans, Author: John Hope Franklin, Audience: Child
From Slavery to Freedom charts the journey of African Americans from their origins in the civilizations of Africa, through slavery in the Western Hemisphere, to their struggle for freedom in the West Indies, Latin America and the United States.
In the Matter of Color, Author: Leon A. Higgenbotham, Audience: Volunteer
Chronicles in unrelenting detail the role of the law in the enslavement and subjugation of black Americans during the colonial period. No attempt to summarize the colonial experience could convey the rich and comprehensive detail, which is the major strength of Judge Higginbotham's work.
Invention of the White Race I & II, Author: Theodore Allen, Audience: Volunteer
A monumental study of the birth of racism in the American South that makes truly new and convincing points about one of the most critical problems in US history.
Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th Century America, Author: Ronald Takaki, Audience: Volunteer
Iron Cages provides a unique comparative analysis of white American attitudes toward Asians, blacks, Mexicans and Native Americans in the 19th century.
Killers of the Dream, Author: Lillian Smith, Audience: Volunteer
The author draws on memories of her childhood to describe the psychological and moral cost of the powerful, contradictory rules about sin, sex, and segregation—the intricate system of taboos—that undergirded southern society.
Love to Langston, Author: Tony Medina, Audience: Child
Harlem poet Tony Medina offers a poem of loving biographical tribute to one of America's most cherished poets, Langston Hughes.
Memoirs of a Race Traitor, Author: Mab Segrest, Audience: Volunteer
Against a backdrop of nine generations of her family's history, Mab Segrest explores her experience as a white lesbian organizing against a virulent far right movement in North Carolina.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Author: Paulo Freire, Audience: Volunteer
This text argues that the ignorance and lethargy of the poor are the direct result of the whole economic, social and political domination. Through the right kind of education, the book suggests, avoiding authoritarian teacher-pupil models and based on the actual experiences of students and on continual shared investigation, every human being, no matter how impoverished or illiterate, can develop a new awareness of self, and the right to be heard.
Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools, Author: Jonathan Kozol, Audience: Volunteer
This important, eye-opening report is a ringing indictment of the shameful neglect that has fostered a ghetto school system in America.
The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How It Changed America, Author: Nicholas Lemann, Audience: Volunteer
From 1940 to 1970, some five million blacks migrated to the urban North. Lemann shares personal accounts and refutes the belief that all federal programs to aid the black poor failed.
The Souls of Black Folk, Author: W.E.B. Dubois, Audience: Volunteer
The text provides insights into black life at the turn of the 20th century. The capstone of The Souls of Black Folk, though, is Du Bois' haunting, eloquent description of the concept of the black psyche's "double consciousness."
The Transgender Guidebook: Keys to a Successful Transition. Author: Anne Boedecker, Audience: Volunteer
Experienced PhD counseling psychologist specializing in LGBT issues shares her practical experiences helping people transition.
The Wall Between, Author: Anne Braden, Audience: Volunteer
In 1954, Anne Braden and her husband bought a house in an all-white neighborhood in Louisville, KY, on behalf of a black couple, the Wades. Braden's account of mob violence, bombing of the house, and imprisonment of her husband on charges of sedition was a finalist for the 1958 National Book Award. This edition contains a new epilogue tracing the lives of the Wades and Bradens before events described in the book, and reports on the Bradens' continuing activities in the civil rights movement.
Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile, Unequal, Author: Andrew Hacker, Audience: Volunteer
In an important, powerfully argued, dispassionate report that makes liberal use of tables and statistics, Hacker documents racist attitudes and practices in the business sector, reveals the low percentage of blacks enrolled in colleges and exposes white racism in politics, employment practices and education and the public's perception of crime and welfare. Turning to blacks' "self-inflicted genocide" through drugs and street violence, he argues that white America shares a large measure of responsibility for this situation because it has fostered a racial chasm—a divide that seems likely to persist unless drastic steps are taken.
When and Where I Enter: The Impact Of Black Women On Race And Sex In America, Author: Winthrop Jordan, Audience: Volunteer
This book is an eloquent testimonial to the profound influence of African American women on race and women's movements throughout American history. Drawing on speeches, diaries, letters, and other original documents, Paula Giddings powerfully portrays how black women have transcended racist and sexist attitudes—often confronting white feminists and black male leaders alike—to initiate social and political reform.
White Racism: Its History, Pathology and Practice, Author: Barry N. Schwartz and Robert Disch, Audience: Volunteer
An anthology of historical and contemporary writing on a crucial social problem: the white American's bigotry and his deeply prejudiced view of the black man.
Women, Race and Class, Author: Angela Davis, Audience: Volunteer
Expose of the women's movement in the context of the fight for civil rights and working class issues. She uncovers a side of the fight for suffrage many of us have not heard: the intimate tie between the anti-slavery campaign and the struggle for women's suffrage. She shows how the racist and classist bias of some in the women's movement have divided its own membership.
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Cultural Competency/Diversity/Working with Children
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., Author: David A. Adler, Audience: Child
A beautifully illustrated, easy-to-read biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ages 5–8)
Ellington Was Not a Street, Author: Ntozake Shange, Audience: Child
Poet and playwright Ntozake Shange offers a lyrical reflection on her childhood and the many noted African Americans who often gathered in her home, from Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie to W. E. B. DuBois and African leader Kwame Nkrumah. Beautiful full-page paintings capture the times and the "men who changed the world.” (Ages 5–10)
Henry's Freedom Box, Author: Ellen Levine, Audience: Child
The true story of Henry "Box" Brown, a runaway slave from Virginia who "mailed himself to freedom" in a cramped wooden crate. This is an amazing story of courage and ingenuity. (Ages 5–8)
Li’l Dan, The Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story, Author: Romare Bearden, Audience: Child
This extraordinary book is based on the stunning collage illustrations of famed African American artist Romare Bearden; and tells the powerful story of a slave boy dealing with his new-found freedom. Included is a CD with Maya Angelou reading this poignant story. (Ages 5–10)
Mama Bear Baby Bear: A Native America Lore, Author: Linda Silvas, Audience: Child
Book offers a fresh perspective on how more and more grandparents and other relatives find themselves protecting and raising children.
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Martin Luther King, Jr., Author: Doreen Rappaport, Audience: Child
This picture book biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. uses King’s words along with paper collages and watercolor artwork to tell an age-appropriate version of the civil rights leader’s life story. (Ages 4–8)
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, Author: Carle Boston,Audience: Child
A beautifully dramatic picture book about Harriet Tubman and her religious inspiration, using the words of spirituals. (Ages 4–8)
Mr. Williams, Author: Karen Barbour, Audience: Child
A beautifully illustrated retelling of one man’s oral history of the hardships of African American rural life in the '30s and '40s. (Ages 4–8)
Rap A Tap Tap, Author: Leo and Diane Dillon, Audience: Child
Through beautiful watercolor illustrations and bouncy, captivating text in Rap a Tap Tap, Leo and Diane Dillon tell the story of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, an extraordinary, groundbreaking dancer who brought tap from the streets to the world. He was one of the most popular entertainers of the first half of the 20th century. This is a beautiful, terrific, and joyful book on dance and music and a springboard for discussion on an important period in American history. (Ages 3–6)
Show Way, Author: Jacqueline Woodson, Audience: Child
In this Newbery Honor Book, Woodson uses a “Show Way,” a quilt sewn with secret meanings, to tell her family’s history of African American women from slavery and to trace the history of the civil rights movement to the present. Talbott’s exquisite illustrations will inspire readers to explore their own family history. (Ages 4–8)
Sky Sash So Blue, Author: Libby Hathorn, Audience: Child
The special sky-blue sash that a young slave girl offers to give her older sister for her wedding dress becomes a lifelong tie between them. This inspiring book depicts a slave family story from the perspective of a child who turns fabric into art and uses hope and joy to transcend sorrow and oppression. (Ages 4–8)
The Baby on the Way , Author: Karen English, Audience: Child
A warm and evocative book about grandparents and family traditions based on African American traditions. (Ages 4–8)
Visiting Langston, Author: Willie Perdomo, Audience: Child
This is an inspiring, poetic book about an African American girl anticipating a visit to the Harlem brownstone of Harlem Renaissance poet, Langston Hughes. Perdomo’s poetry and Collier’s watercolor and collage bring to life the first half of 20th-century Harlem. (Ages 4–8)
Yesterday I Had the Blues, Author: Jeron Ashford Frame, Audience: Child
This is a beautifully illustrated, wonderfully quirky book about everyday life and having the blues. An African American boy laments his blue day and goes on to describe his other days and moods and the feelings of the people around him using the colors of the rainbow. (Ages 4–8)
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Cultural Competency/Diversity/Working with Older Youth
A Friendship for Today, Author: Patricia C. McKissack, Audience: Child
Rosemary, who is black, develops an unlikely friendship with mean Grace Hamilton, considered "white trash" by classmates, after school integration in 1955. Rosemary is a plucky character with wry observations on life and people and the book offers a great view of life in the 1950’s. (Age 9-12)
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters, Author: Andrea Davis Pinkney, Audience: Child
An engaging and inspiring look at the contributions of 10 women from former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth to the first black congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm. Pinkney tells the stories of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hamer, and others—stories of hardship and struggle, determination and strength. This is a good read aloud for kindergarten and young school-age children. (Ages 8–12)
The Old African, Author: Jerry Pinkney, Audience: Child
Chronicles the African American experience of slavery to young readers. Other notable books by Lester are To Be a Slave and Day of Tears. (Age 9 and up)
The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals, Authors: Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper, Audience: Volunteer
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, Author: Christopher Paul Curtis, Audience: Child
The Watson family heads from Michigan to the deep south of Birmingham, AL, in 1963 to straighten out fourth grader Kenny by depositing him at the home of his strict grandmother. This Newbery Medal-winning book is both funny and moving. Kenny narrates his family’s trip into the pivotal time and place in civil rights history—the bombing of a Baptist Church with four little girls inside. (Ages 8–12)
Through My Eyes, Author: Ruby Bridges, Audience: Child
Bridges gives voice to her innocent 6-year-old self who every day walked through a mob of howling, angry protesters to integrate the New Orleans public schools in 1960. Bridges recounts how she innocently thought at the time that, "Two, four, six, eight, we don't want to integrate" was a jump rope chant, even while the mob was carrying a black doll in a coffin. Many sepia-toned period photographs and excerpts from newspaper articles, comments by her teacher, and a timeline place her story within the context of the larger Civil Rights Movement. (Ages 8–12)
When Marian Sang, Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan, Audience: Child
About the 20th-century life of Marian Anderson and how she overcame racial barriers with a voice heard and loved worldwide. We follow Marian from her childhood, singing in church in Philadelphia, through her rejection from a music school that refused to take "coloreds," to her success in the concert halls of Europe, and back to America, where she finally receives acclaim, despite the challenges of racism. (Ages 5–8)
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Another Place at the Table, Author: Kathy Harrison, Audience: Volunteer
With so much awful publicity surrounding foster parenting, Harrison's story of opening her home to foster children, three of whom she later adopted, is tender and inspiring. It is also filled with heartbreaking truths about abused and neglected children and a social service system that is overburdened and occasionally negligent itself.
Beyond the Best Interests of the Child, Author: Joseph Goldstein, Anna Freud & Albert Solnit , Audience: Volunteer
Goldstein, Freud, and Solnit argue that whether or not the psychological parent was biologically related to the child or not, courts should preserve this bond because normal development depends on its continuity. They also stress that for a child, being caught up in a custody battle is a psychological emergency. Above all, judges and lawyers should base their decisions on the child's immature sense of time and steady need for a continuing relationship with the person who has provided ongoing, loving care.
Chester's CASA, Author: Angela Shelf Medearis, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Chester’s CASA prepares children to meet all of the people involved in their journey, including caseworkers, foster families, psychologists, judges and their Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA volunteer.
Foster Placements: Why They Succeed And Why They Fail, Author: Ian Sinclair, Audience: Volunteer
Based on exhaustive research, the authors discuss the primary concerns in foster placement planning, considering the high frequency of placement breakdowns, their impact on the child's behavior and school performance, and the challenges this places on foster families.
Furious, Author: Jill Wolfson, Audience: Volunteer, Author: Jill Wolfson, Audience: Children 12 and Up
A foster child is the main character in Jill Wolfson's book, written to give foster kids their own heroines and sense of culture/belonging. See also Somebody Else's Children, What I Call Life and Home, and Other Big Fat Lies.
Growing Up in the Care of Strangers: The Experiences, Insights and of Eleven Former Foster Kids. Authors: Waln Brown and John Seita, Audience: Volunteer
Products of foster care themselves, 11 college-educated adults share their insights about their experiences and provide recommendations for professionals about what would improve foster care.
Home and Other Big Fat Lies, Author: Jill Wolfson, Audience: Children Ages 8 - 12
A foster child is the main character in Jill Wolfson's book, written to give foster kids their own heroines and sense of culture/belonging. See also Furious, Somebody Else's Children and What I Call Life, also written by Wolfson.
Hope's Boy, Author: Bridge, Andrew, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Bridge's memoir of surviving his childhood in a broken child-care system where the state acts as parents for the young certainly illustrates the complexity of such government institutions. After being removed from his mother by the state, Bridge spent a brief stint in a residential program before being put into foster care. His decade-long stay with an emotionally abusive and unsupportive family left its share of marks.
Orphans of the Living, Author: Jennifer Toth, Audience: Volunteer
Toth's report from the frontlines of what is known as "substitute care" is not encouraging. As she follows the lives of five young people moving through the system—from Damien, a rape victim at age 8 who becomes a sexual predator by age 13, to Bryan, who struggles to benefit from one of the country's best foster programs—Toth's subjects are as heartbreaking as their success is improbable.
To the End of June, Author: Cris Beam, Audience: Volunteer
As reviewed in the New York Times in August 2013: "Early in Cris Beam’s remarkable new book, she outlines what she calls the core questions at the heart of America’s foster care system: “Who decides the correct way to raise a child? Who makes the moves on the moral chessboard where a family’s right to privacy opposes a child’s right to protection from harm? And who should get to keep a child: the parents who nurse and tend to him, or the parents who brought him into this world?"
Troubled Transplants, Author: Richard J. Delaney, Audience: Volunteer
Troubled Transplants focuses on adoptive/foster children, their difficult backgrounds, and their deleterious impact on the interaction and environment with the foster or adoptive family. The authors provide suggestions about behavioral roots and practical strategies to address and improve these issues.
Turmoil to Turning Points, Author: Jerome Kagan, Audience: Volunteer
Through heartrending case histories, Kagan, a psychologist who works with family service agencies in the Albany, NY, area, offers a compelling, close-up look at troubled children and adolescents in families seemingly locked in a cycle of traumas and crises, torn by alcoholism, physical and sexual abuse, drug addiction, severe neglect. Placements in residential treatment centers, foster homes or psychiatric hospitals, according to Kagan, can become turning points for positive change, if family members confront the psychodynamics, "double bind" messages and deep-seated wounds underlying a child's maladaptive behavior. An eye-opening, hopeful report for social service practitioners and those who care about the crisis in child welfare.
What I Call Life, Author: Jill Wolfson, Audience: Volunteer, Children Ages 8-12
A foster child is the main character in Jill Wolfson's book, written to give foster kids their own heroines and sense of culture/belonging. See also Somebody Else's Children, Furious, and Home and Other Big Fat Lies, also written by Wolfson.
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Research and Evaluation
Amazing Grace, Author: Jonathan Kozol, Audience: Volunteer
This disquieting report graphically portrays a world where babies are born to drug-using mothers with AIDS, where children are frequently murdered, jobs are scarce and a large proportion of the men are either in prison or on crack cocaine or heroin. Kozol interviewed ministers, teachers, drug pushers, children who have not yet given up hope. While his narrative offers no specific solutions, it forcefully drives home his conviction: a civilized nation cannot allow this situation to continue.
Ghosts From the Nursery: Tracing the Roots of Violence, Author: Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley, Audience: Volunteer
This book presents startling evidence on how abuse and neglect during the first two years of life is creating a tide of violent youth.
Guidebook to the Courthouse (Child Abuse or Neglect Cases), Author: Kentucky CASA, Inc., Audience: Volunteer
This guide will explain the court process and identify the people who may be involved in the court case. This guide is meant to be used as a resource to answer some of the questions regarding the legal process that may occur where there has been allegations of child abuse or neglect.
High Risk: Children Without a Conscience, Author: Ken Magid and Carole McKelvey, Audience: Volunteer
The authors explore the reasons why children without a conscience are growing in number. They are at risk of becoming "trust bandits," con-men, liars, dance-away lovers, backstabbers of the business world, and even psychopathic killers.
The Book of David, Author: Richard Gelles, Audience: Volunteer
The tragedy of abused children who have been failed by child welfare agencies is made palpable in the case presented here, followed by a specialist in family violence. Gelles, director of the Family Violence Research Program at the University of Rhode Island, examines the brief life of David, who died of suffocation at 15 months. In tracing the system's tragic failure to save a child, Gelles sounds a wake-up call to agencies to put children first and reassess the efficacy of family preservation programs.
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Working with Children
A Child’s Journey Through Placement, Author: Vera Fahlberg, M.D., Audience: Volunteer
Fahlberg has provided the comprehensive guide for all who care about advocating children with all kinds of behavior and disorder issues.
Alphabet Kids, Author: Robbie Woliver, Audience: Volunteer
A guide for people working with children who exhibit symptoms of a possible disorder that may impede their physical, psychological, intellectual, or emotional development.
Boy from the Basement, Author: Susan Shaw, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior, Author: Kerry Patterson, Audience: Volunteer
Charlie's father has banished him to a dark cellar as punishment for some small transgression, and the boy sneaks upstairs at night while his parents sleep, desperately searching the kitchen for food and going outdoors to relieve himself. After he accidentally locks himself out, he wanders until he collapses, then awakens in a hospital. There, the extent of his deprivation and the resulting damage become clear. Focusing on Charlie's internal thought processes, the action is primarily psychological. As the boy works with a psychiatrist and begins to trust his foster family, he grows to the point of being able to disagree with his controlling and warped father.
Behind the problems that routinely plague organizations and families, you'll find individuals who are either unwilling or unable to deal with failed promises. Others have broken rules, missed deadlines, failed to live up to commitments, or just plain behaved badly--and nobody steps up to the issue. Or they do, but do a lousy job and create a whole new set of problems. Accountability suffers and new problems spring up. New research demonstrates that these disappointments aren't just irritating, they're costly. (The first edition of this book was titled: Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior)
Cut, Author: Cathy Glass, Audience: Child
The true story of an abandoned, abused little girl who was desperate to be part of a family.
Dare to Take Charge, Author: Glenda Hatchett, Audience: Volunteer
Difficult Conversations, Author: Douglas Stone, Audience: Volunteer
How to Live Your Life on Purpose
How to discuss what matters most.
Elijah of Buxton, Author: Christopher Paul Curtis, Audience: Child
Narrator 11-year-old Elijah is the first child born into freedom in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway slaves. Elijah ends up on a journey and becomes exposed to the horrors of slavery. This Newbery Honor book is at times funny, exciting, thrilling, suspenseful, and deeply moving; a subtle, original story by a wonderful writer. (Age 9-12)
Families Change, Author: Julie Nelson, Audience: Volunteer and Child
All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors and teachers.
Goin’ Someplace Special, Author: Patricia C. McKissock , Audience: Child
Newbery medal-winning author Patricia C. McKissock and Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney bring the reality of segregation to life in Nashville through the eyes of a 9-year-old girl. (Ages 3–7)
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr., Author: Jean Marzollo, Audience: Child
A terrific book to introduce preschoolers to Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights struggle. (Ages 3–7)
Happy Kids, Author: Cathy Glass, Audience: Volunteer
The secret to raising well-behaved, contented children.
Help Your Child or Teen Get Back on Track, Author: Kenneth H. Talan , Audience: Volunteer
What Parents and Professionals Can Do for Childhood Emotional and Behavioral Problems
I Saw Your Face, Author: Tom Feelings, Audience: Child
Feelings is a widely acclaimed illustrator who illustrates history “through the multiplication of faces” while Dawes creates stories around the faces Feelings sketches. (Ages 5–10)
I Speak for This Child, Author: Gay Courter, Audience: Volunteer
Written by a guardian ad litem volunteer in Florida, this book tells of her experience working with children in the court system.
Lily Lightening Bug and Her Stolen Glow, Author: Jeannette M. Atkins, Audience: Child
A cast of characters, including Loretta Ladybug, Lily's advocate, help her regain her stolen glow. Children who read or listen to the story will find comfort and be inspired by this journey to justice.
Mika Dika, Foster Kid, Author: T. L. Blythers, Audience: Child
Mika Dika is well-written, beautifully illustrated, children's book about a young girl who is thrown into the foster care system and endures many challenges while waiting for a permanent home. Mika's words will fill your mind and her teddy bear will fill your heart...with love.
Mr. George Baker, Author: Amy Hest, Audience: Child
George is a 100-year-old jazz musician who has decided to learn to read. Everyday he waits for the school bus along with his young neighbor, Harry. At school, while Harry learns to read, so does George with a group of grown-ups. Harry narrates the story and the extraordinary watercolor illustrations depict the warm relationship between the white boy and the African American man. (Ages 4–8)
My Alternate Life, Author: Lee McClain, Child
A series of teen novels, starting with this one, that feature a magic computer game that shows foster and adopted teen what life would have been like with their birth families. Covering serious issues but purposely short and easy to read for the many children in the system with learning and reading difficulties.
My Dream of Martin Luther King, Author: Faith Ringgold, Audience: Child
Ringgold provides an extraordinarily powerful picture of King's childhood and experiences of segregation, prejudice and protest. (Ages 4–8)
My Grandma Is My New Mommy, Author: Cliff Greenberg, Audience: Child
About the special role millions of grandparents have in a grandchild's life.
No Mirrors in My Nana's House , Author: Ysaye M. Barnwell, Audience: Child
A young granddaughter's joyful tribute to her Nana composed by Barnwell and sung by world renowned Sweet Honey in the Rock on the CD. The CD also has a spoken-word recording of the book. (Ages 3–8)
Oh Lord, I Wish I Was a Buzzard, Author: Polly Greenberg, Audience: Child
A gentle, universal story about wanting to be “anywhere but here.” A little girl picks cotton, wishing she was something and somewhere cooler and doing something less back breaking like “a snake curved up cold and cool or a dog under a bush.” A great read-aloud that easily turns into a joyous call and refrain. (Ages 3–5)
Room, Author: Emma Donoghue
The story is told from a five-year-old boy's perspective. He has been isolated his whole life, living in a one-room secure building with his mother, who was abducted prior to his birth. When the boy and his mother are rescued, he is very scared and unhappy. Things are foreign to him and he is frightened by the physical distance from his mother. He didn't bound out into the normal world happy and saying, "Hooray, I'm free!"
Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say!, Author: Glenda Hatchett, Audience: Volunteer
Saving Your Child from a Troubled World
Shades of Black, Author: Sandra L. Pinkney, Audience: Child
The many shades of black are beautifully illustrated in this photo album of the many characteristics of blackness. (Ages 2–6)
The Great Gilly Hopkins, Author: Katherine Patterson, Audience: Child
Eleven-year-old Gilly has been stuck in more foster families than she can remember, and she's disliked them all. She has a county-wide reputation for being brash, brilliant, and completely unmanageable. So when she's sent to live with the Trotters, Gilly decides to put her sharp mind to work. Before long she's devised an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to come rescue her. But the rescue doesn't work out, and the Great Gilly Hopkins is left thinking that maybe life with the Trotters wasn't so bad.
The Village That Vanished, Author: Ann Grifalconi, Audience: Child
A folklore tale of quick-witted African villagers who draw on the spirits of their ancestors to hide from approaching slavers. This is a story of community solidarity and resourcefulness overcoming evil. (Ages 6–10)
The Way I See It, Author: Julian Holloway, Audience: Child
The book is designed in a simple format that allows children to tell their own stories.
What's Happening?, Author: Pamela Jung, Audience: Child
A set of two story/coloring workbooks (available in English and Spanish) created to empower children who have been removed from their families by providing them with some basic information.
Why Me? Entering Foster Care, Author: Pamle Jackson, Audience: Child
With single simple sentences aided by colorful illustrations, this book presents the process of foster care, from the beginning until possible reunification with his or her parent(s).
The Art of Comforting, Author: Val Walker, Audience: Volunteer
What to say and do for people in distress.
Only Passing Through, Author: R. Gregory Christie, Audience: Child
A powerful picture book biography of one the most remarkable women of the 19th century. Sojourner Truth was a slave sold three times by age 13 and watched her parents die of cold and hunger. She became one of the abolitionist movement’s strongest voices. Christie’s dramatic impressionist illustrations complement Rockwell’s moving storytelling. (Ages 9–11)
Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Author: Mary Pipher, Audience: Volunteer
At adolescence, says Mary Pipher, "girls become 'female impersonators' who fit their whole selves into small, crowded spaces." Many lose spark, interest, and even IQ points as a "girl-poisoning" society forces a choice between being shunned for staying true to oneself and struggling to stay within a narrow definition of female. Pipher offers some prescriptions for changing society and helping girls resist.
Rules of Survival, Author: Nancy Werlin, Audience: Volunteer and Child
Narrated by 17-year-old Matt as a letter to his youngest sister, Emmy, The Rules of Survival is his effort to come to terms with the vicious treatment he and his two sisters suffered at the hands of Nikki, their beautiful and unpredictable mother.
The Power of Receiving, Author: Amanda Owen, Audience: Volunteer
Giving yourself the life you want and deserve.
I Miss Mummy, Author: Cathy Glass, Audience: Child
The true story of a frightened young girl who's desperate to go home.
Street Kid, Author: Judy Westwater, Audience: Volunteer and Child
One child's desperate fight for survival
The Little Prisoner, Author: Jane Elliott, Audience: Volunteer and Child
The Little Prisoner is the shocking, astonishing, and ultimately uplifting true story of one woman's shattering twenty-year ordeal—and how she triumphed against an evil and violent human monster when honesty and bravery were her only weapons.
The Pinballs, Author: Betsy Byars, Audience: Child
Carlie, Harvey and Thomas J., three foster children, have been taken in by the Masons who have had many other foster children in the past. It's Carlie who compares the children to pinballs, controlled by external forces, and at the mercy of fate. The Masons provide a supportive environment in which the children learn to care for each other and begin to experience love and trust. This is a believable, funny and touching novel.
Three Little Words, Author: Ashley Rhodes-Courter, Audience: Volunteer and Child
The author's ability to form intelligent, open-minded conclusions about her traumatic childhood demonstrates her remarkable control and insight, and although there are plenty of wrenching moments, she succeeds not in attracting pity but in her stated intention, of drawing attention to the children who currently share the plight that she herself overcame.
The Wonder of Boys, Author: Michael Gurian, Audience: Volunteer
The Wonder of Boys offers advice on how to understand and build strong father/son and mother/son relationships, stresses the importance of healthy discipline, and suggests methods of teaching boys about sex, relationships and spirituality. Parents and teachers of boys will find this book to be an insightful read.
You Don't Know Anything...!, Author: Nadir Baksh, Audience: Volunteer
A manual for parenting your teenagers
Working with Older Youth
Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope
This book tells the stories of six remarkable young people from across the United States and Canada as they confront life alone on the streets. Each eventually finds his or her way to Covenant House, the largest charity serving homeless and runaway youth in North America.
*The Language of Flowers: A Novel, Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh, Audience: Volunteer
The story of a young girl and her experiences as she ages out of the system. Her gift for flowers affects the lives of others.
*Suggestion submitted by a member of the CASA network.
If you have comments about this list, please email them to email@example.com.
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