Book List

Read any of these titles and write up a summary report for 2 hours of in-service training.
*Starred titles are available to borrow from the CASA office.

Abuse and Neglect

*As I Lay Me Down to Sleep, Author: Eileen Munro
A true story of neglect and abuse.

*A Child Called "It", Author: Dave Pelzer
The true account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history.  

Damaged, Author: Cathy Glass
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
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.

*No Momma's Boy, Author: Dominic Carter
TV anchor Dominic Carter recounts his story of abuse at the hands of his mother.

*The Blind Side, Author: Michael Lewis
When we first meet the young man at the center of this extraordinary and moving story, he is one of 13 children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or any of the things a child might learn in school. And he has no serious experience playing organized football.  What changes? He takes up football, and school, after a rich Evangelical Republican family plucks him from the mean streets. Their love is the first great force that alters the world's perception of the boy, whom they adopt.

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Authors: Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
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
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.

*Not My Secret to Keep, Author: Digene Farrar
Digene Farrar was an up-and-coming professional model with history of childhood sexual abuse that she thought she had overcome. After experiencing the events of 9/11, Digene finds that the stress response from this attack has caused her to relive the trauma of her past abuse. Digene candidly walks readers through her therapy process and shares her story of healing.


*One Kid at a Time, Author: Jake Dekker 
The true story of a single dad and his experience adopting a young boy who had been placed in foster care due to abandonment, abuse and neglect.

The Broken Cord, Author: Michael Dorris
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.

The Limits of Hope: An Adoptive Mother’s Story, Author: Ann Kimble Loux
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.  

Child Welfare

*Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel's Legacy, Author: Holly Schlaack
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
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.

Somebody Else’s Children, Author: John Huber and Jill Wolfson
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.

Turning Stones, Author: Marc Parent
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
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.

*Hillbilly Elegy: A Family and Culture in Crisis, Author: J.D. Vance
In his personal memoir, the author gives an incredible picture of his life growing up in a poor, white American family. Vance takes us through his family's life and legacy, offering a smart and honest analysis of a declining culture and the social problems that come along with it. Though Vance himself managed to break the destructive cycle, he gains a stark understanding of what he was up against and how it has affected his adult life. 

Foster Care

Another Place at the Table, Author: Kathy Harrison
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.

*Betrayed, Author: Rosie Lewis
In the much-anticipated follow-up to Sunday Times bestseller Trapped, foster carer Rosie Lewis tells the heartbreaking true story of 13-year-old Zadie.  When the young teenage girl runs away from home and is discovered hiding on the city streets by the police, it is clear that all is not as it should be.

Hope's Boy, Author: Andrew Bridge
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
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.

*The Lost Boy, Author: Dave Pelzer
As reviewed by bestselling author John Bradshaw- "The Lost Boy standing shining as the premier book on the unique love and dedication that social services and foster families provide for our children in peril.  Dave Pelzer is certainly a living testament of resilince, personal responsibility and the triumph of the human spirit."

*Three Little Words, Author: Ashley Rhodes-Courter
In her first memoir, Ashley Rhodes-Courter shares her own experiences of being removed from her mother and spending almost a decade in foster care, often being abused and neglected by the very system that was responsible for her care. As a resilient youth who eventually finds love and stability with her adoptive family, Ashley uses her voice to share her story and advocate for children like herself who find themselves in need of care. 

*Three More Words, Author: Ashley Rhodes-Courter
A wonderful pairing to her first memoir, Ashley picks up her story where it left off after Three Little Words. Now an adult, she shares her experience and perspective as both a CASA/GAL, and later a foster and adoptive parent. 

*The Kindness of Strangers, Author: Katrina Kittle
In her fiction novel, Kittle tells the story of Sarah Laden, a widow and mother who agrees to foster her best friend's son after shocking allegations of abuse surface. Raw and unfiltered in its content, this book tells a rich story of hurt, healing, and the power of love in recovery.   

To the End of June, Author: Cris Beam
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?"

Working with Youth

The Art of Comforting, Author: Val Walker
What to say and do for people in distress. 

The Language of Flowers: A Novel, Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh
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.

Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, Author: Mary Pipher
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.

*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.

*The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time, Author: Mark Haddon
The novel is narrated in the first-person perspective by Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioural difficulties" living in Swindon, Wiltshire. Although Christopher's condition is not stated, the book's blurb refers to Asperger syndrome, high-functioning autism, or savant syndrome.

The Wonder of Boys, Author: Michael Gurian
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.

Working with Parents

*An Unquiet Mind, Author: Kay Redfield Jamison
This work is a personal testimony from Kay Redfield Jamison: the revelation of her struggle with manic depression since adolescence, and how it has shaped her life. The book follows her through college, a love affair, her battle with the illness, bouts of madness, violence and attempted suicide.

Substance Abuse 

*Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, Author: Nic Sheff
As methamphetamine addiction continues to take hold of adults in every walk of life, author Nic Sheff adds color and startling details to the conversation of drug addiction and the lifestyle that accompanies substance abuse. Holding back nothing, Sheff's own story of addiction is sometimes difficult and troubling to read, but revealing and honest from start to finish.