Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

In addition to attending classes and online training, advocates are also able to read books related to the work we do to receive continuing education credit hours. Each 50 pages equals 1 CE hour.  For example, if you read a book that is 300 pages long, you will receive 6 hours of continuing education credit.

How to add continuing education credit hours:

Once you have finished a book, please record your reading in Optima. Under the“Volunteers Dashboard”, you will be able to add your own hours. Select “Training Logs” from the tap options, click “add” and fill in the boxes. Either click “Other” or “Independent study” as the training format. Add the title in the notes section and remember that 50 pages equals 1 CE hour. For example, if you read a book that is 300 pages long, you will receive 6 hours of continuing education credit.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Alexander states, by the US targeting black men through the War of Drugs, the criminal justice system now functions as a contemporary system of racial control.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life—answers that will ultimately free them both.

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

“He doesn’t mean to hurt me-he just loses control.” “He can be sweet and gentle.” “He’s scared me a few times, but he never hurts the children – he’s a great father.” “He’s had a really hard life…” Women in abusive relationships tell themselves these things every day. Now they can see inside the minds of angry and controlling men-and change their own lives. In this groundbreaking book, a counselor shows how to improve, survive, or leave an abusive relationship, with: The early warning signs, nine abusive personality types, how to tell if an abuser can change, is changing, or ever will, the role of drugs and alcohol, what can be fixed, and what can’t, how to leave a relationship safely.

Juvenile Delinquency in a Diverse Society by Kristin A. Bates and Richelle S. Swan

This engaging, student-friendly text takes a critical look at juvenile delinquency today. Authors Kristin Bates and Richelle Swan examine the phenomenon of juvenile delinquency in the context of real communities and social policies, integrating into the text the many social factors that shape juvenile delinquency and its control (including race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality). Offering a thorough mix of traditional and cutting-edge theories, research, and practices, this text helps students develop critical thinking skills and answer many of the difficult questions on juvenile delinquency that they will face in their careers and lives.

To The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam

Who are the children of foster care? What, as a country, do we owe them? Cris Beam, a foster mother herself, spent five years immersed in the world of foster care looking into these questions and tracing firsthand stories. The result is To the End of June, an unforgettable portrait that takes us deep inside the lives of foster children in their search for a stable, loving family.

Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by Nell Bernstein

One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are twenty-three, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear- eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, award-winning journalist Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The very act of isolation denies delinquent children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults.

Hope’s Boy by 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.

Growing Up in the Care of Strangers by Waln Brown and John Seita

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.

The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris

Provides insight and research into the prevalence of childhood trauma and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experienced Study (ACES)

Before and After: Incredible Real Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate

True stories of an adoption scandal from 1920 to 1950 in Georgia and the victims’ journeys to reconnect with biological family.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.

Relatives Raising Children: An Overview of Kinship Care by Joseph Crumbley

The rapid growth of kinship care has caught many child welfare agencies off guard. Relatives Raising Children gives professionals, agencies, institutions, communities and organizations the information they need to develop and provide service to kinship caregivers, kinship families, children and parents.

Child Abuse. What You Need to Know by Evin Daly

A definitive guide to understanding every facet of child abuse-physical, emotional and sexual; and neglect. Providing an in depth look at each, including the connection between child abuse and domestic violence.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.

White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for While People to talk about Racism by Robin DiAngelo

Anti-racist educator illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and discusses what we can do to engage more constructively.

Doing the Best I can: Fatherhood in the Inner City by Kathryn Edin

Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning. The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. They offer keen insight into a radical redefinition of family life where the father-child bond is central and parental ties are peripheral.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Author and social critic goes undercover as an unskilled worker to reveal the challenges of poverty in America.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down explores the clash between a small county hospital in California and a refugee family from Laos over the care of Lia Lee, a Hmong child diagnosed with severe epilepsy. Lia’s parents and her doctors both wanted what was best for Lia, but the lack of understanding between them led to tragedy.

A Child’s Journey Through Placement by Vera Fahlberg

Fahlberg has provided the comprehensive guide for all who care about advocating children with all kinds of behavior and disorder issues.

Finding Fish by Antwone Fisher

Baby Boy Fisher was raised in institutions from the moment of his birth in prison to a single mother. He ultimately came to live with a foster family, where he endured near-constant verbal and physical abuse. In his mid-teens he escaped and enlisted in the navy, where he became a man of the world, raised by the family he created for himself.

A Colony in a Nation by Chris Hayes

A Colony in a Nation examines the surge in crime that began in the 1960s and peaked in the 1990s, and the unprecedented decline that followed. Drawing on close-hand reporting at flashpoints of racial conflict, as well as deeply personal experiences with policing, Hayes explores cultural touchstones, from the influential “broken windows” theory to the “squeegee men” of late -1980s Manhattan, to show how fear causes us to make dangerous and unfortunate choices, both in our society and at the personal level.

Trauma and Recovery: The After Math of Violence by Judith L. Herman

When Trauma and Recovery was first published in 1992, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work. In the intervening years, it has become the basic text for understanding trauma survivors. Drawing on her own research on incest, as well as on a vast literature on combat veterans and victims of political terror, she shows surprising parallels between private horrors like child abuse and public horrors like war. Trauma and Recovery is essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand how we heal and are healed.

Those Who Wander: America’s Lost Street Kids by Vivian Ho  

Explores the challenging pasts of young people who commit a senseless murder, addressing the homelessness and runaway crisis of abused and neglected youth.

Last Chance in Texas: The Redemption of Criminal Youth by John Hubner

A powerful, bracing and deeply spiritual look at intensely, troubled youth, Last Chance in Texas gives a stirring account of the way one remarkable prison rehabilitates its inmates. While reporting on the juvenile court system, journalist John Hubner kept hearing about a facility in Texas that ran the most aggressive, and one of the most successful, treatment programs for violent young offenders in America.

No Matter How Loud I Shout by Edward Humes

In an age when violence and crime by young people is again on the rise, No Matter How Loud I Shout offers a rare look inside the juvenile court system that deals with these children and the impact decisions made in the courts had on the rest of their lives. Granted unprecedented access to the Los Angeles Juvenile Court, including the judges, the probation officers and the children themselves, Edward Humes creates an unforgettable portrait of a chaotic system that is neither saving our children in danger nor protecting us from adolescent violence. Yet he shows us there is also hope in the handful of courageous individuals working tirelessly to triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds.

Ghosts from the Nursery by Robin Karr-Morse

This book incorporates significant advances in neurobiological research over the past decade. The author’s groundbreaking conclusions became even more relevant following the wave of school shootings across the nation. Following each media coverage and public debate turned yet again to the usual suspects concerning the causes of violence: widespread availability of guns and lack of mental health services for late-stage treatment. Discussion of the impact of trauma on human life, especially early in life during chemical and structural formation of the brain, is missing from the equation.

Almost Home: Helping Kids Move from Homelessness to Hope, by Tina Kelley

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 Out of Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz

The Out-of-Sync Child broke new ground by identifying Sensory Processing Disorder, a common but frequently misdiagnosed problem in which the central nervous system misinterprets messages from the senses. This newly revised edition features additional information from recent research on vision and hearing deficits, motor skill problems, nutrition and picky eaters, ADHA, autism, and other related disorders.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

Memoir about a mother’s struggle to provide for her family as a member of the working poor.

The Limits of Hope: An Adoptive Mother’s Story by 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

The Color of Water by James McBride

Interspersed throughout his mother’s compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self-realization and professional success.

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

This is a story about families, the ones we have and the ones we make. It’s a story about America today, where so many cultures and points of view collide and coexist. We Are Called to Rise challenges us to think about our responsibilities to each other and reminds us that no matter how cruel life can be in a given moment, it is ultimately beautiful to live, and live fully.

Brave: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma by Jayne McConnaughey

A personal memoir describing a woman’s journey through psychotherapy which pays tribute to how a therapist and client worked together to heal attachment wounds.

Like Family: Growing Up in Other People’s Houses by Paula McLain

Paula McLain has written a powerful and haunting memoir about the years she and her two sisters spent as foster children. In the early 70s, after being abandoned by both parents, the girls were made wards of the Fresno County, California court and spent the next 14 years in a series of adoptive homes. The dislocations, confusions and odd pleasures of an unrooted life form the basis of a captivating memoir. McLain’s beautiful writing and limber voice capture the intense loneliness, sadness, and determination of a young girl both on her own and responsible, with her siblings, for staying together as a family.

The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart- wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world. “The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

Honest conversations about race and racism and their impact on American life

Bridges Out of Poverty by Ruby Payne

Bridges Out of Poverty takes the concepts of hidden rules of economic class and uses them to educate social workers, employers and community organizations about the unique and sometimes hidden obstacles that individuals from poverty face. Strategies help improve services for clients, raise retention rates for new hires from poverty, and increase understanding of the differences in economic cultures and how those differences affect opportunities for success.

A Chance in the World by Steve Pemberton

From the day he is five-years-old and dropped off at his foster home of the next eleven years, Stephen is mentally and physically tortured. No one in the system can help him. No one can tell him if he has a family. Along the way, a single faint light comes only from a neighbor’s small acts of kindness and caring, and a box of books. From one of those books he learns that he has to fight in any way he can, for victory is in the battle. His victory is to excel in school. Against all odds, the author succeeded.

The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry

Traumatized children can teach us about loss, love and healing. A psychiatrist carefully examines and explains attachment disorders including RAD (reactive attachment disorder).

The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis

The adoption of a child is always a joyous moment in the life of a family. Some adoptions though, present unique challenges. Welcoming these children into your family–and addressing their special needs–requires care, consideration, and compassion. Written by two research psychologists specializing in adoption and attachment, The Connected Child will help you: build bonds of affection and trust with your adopted child, effectively deal with any learning or behavioral disorders, discipline your child with love without making him or her feel threatened. “A must- read not only for adoptive parents, but for all families striving to correct and connect with their children.”

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

This book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st century daily life and in the media. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform and stay alive. Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named“post- race” society.

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

The author’s ability to form intelligent, open-minded conclusions about her traumatic childhood demonstrates her remarkable control and insight. 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.

Three More Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent a harrowing nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes. Her memoir, Three Little Words, captivated audiences everywhere and went on to become a New York Times bestseller. Now Ashley reveals the nuances of life after foster care: College and its assorted hijinks, including meeting “the one.” Marriage, which began with a beautiful wedding on a boat that was almost hijacked (literally) by some biological family members. Having kids, from fostering children and the heartbreak of watching them return to destructive environments, to the miraculous joy of blending biological and adopted offspring.

A Private Family Matter by Victor Rivas Rivers

In A Private Family Matter, Victor recalls his days as an angry youth living under the rule and wrath of his father. A Cuban immigrant, Victor’s dad was nicknamed El Ciclón for his tempestuous temperament, which led him not only to beat his wife but to abuse, and eventually kidnap, his own children. How Victor managed to seek help for his family and criminal punishment for his father, overcome his demons and learn to love himself, and share his experience with other victims and survivors of domestic abuse is at the heart of this profound and affecting memoir.

The Grown-Up’s Guide to Teenage Humans: How to Decode Their Behavior, Develop Unshakable Trust, and Raise a Respectable Adult by Josh Shipp

Written by a former foster youth, Shipp shows us how to be a caring adult in a teenager’s life to help them face adversity and develop resilience.

The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson

Provides insight into how a child’s brain develops and functions and how adults can help children handle and respond to different experiences and challenges.

Foster Placements: Why They Succeed and Why They Fail by Ian Sinclair

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.

The Butterfly Garden by Chip St. Clair

Fear rocked Chip St. Clair’s world. As a boy, he never knew what would set his father off–maybe the ice cubes had melted in his glass of Tab, maybe dinner was overcooked or undercooked or the gravy was too runny. Regardless, the beatings always came. But one fateful night when the police answered the call, the truth came to light from the shadows, sparking national headlines: Chip St. Clair’s entire life–his name, even his date of birth–had been a lie, and the man he called ‘Dad’ was an impostor, an escaped child killer who had been on the run for over two decades. The stunning revelation would send one of America’s Most Wanted to justice and another on a quest for his true identity.

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control.

Trauma Stewardship by Laura Van Dernoot Lipsky

A longtime trauma worker, Laura van Dernoot Lipsky offers a deep and empathetic survey of the often unrecognized toll taken on those working to make the world a better place. We may feel tired, cynical, or numb or like we can never do enough. These and other symptoms, affect us individually and collectively, sapping the energy and effectiveness we so desperately need if we are to benefit humankind, other living things and the planet itself. In Trauma Stewardship, we are called to meet these challenges in an intentional way, to keep from becoming overwhelmed by developing a quality of mindful presence. Joining the wisdom of ancient cultural traditions with modern psychological research, Lipsky offers a variety of simple and profound practices that will allow us to remake ourselves–and ultimately the world.

Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

Nia Vardalos, writer and star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, tells her hilarious and poignant road-to-parenting story that eventually leads to her daughter and prompts her to become a major advocate for adoption. Vardalos chronicles her attempts to have a baby, and how she tries everything—from drinking jugs of green mud tea, to acupuncture, to working with two surrogates. Finally, she and her husband, actor Ian Gomez, decide to try adoption and discover a free service: Foster Family Agencies. Then one day, the social workers “match” her with an almost- three-year-old girl, who she knows, instantly, is her daughter. With her signature wit and candor, Nia Vardalos reveals what really came next – the truth of how she and her husband transitioned a preschooler into their home. Vardalos opens up about the bawling-tears and belly-laughter that all make up what it means to be…a parent.

The Glass Castle by 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.

A Question of Balance: Decision Making for CASA’s by Janet Ward

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.

Alphabet Kids by Robbie Woliver

A guide for people working with children who exhibit symptoms of a possible disorder that may impede their physical, psychological, intellectual, or emotional development.

Weeping in the Playtime of Others: America’s Incarcerated Children by Kenneth Wooden

From the summer of 1972 through 1975, Kenneth Wooden visited correctional facilities in thirty states where juveniles between the ages of five and sixteen were being held. During his research he uncovered an astoundingly high incidence of emotional and physical abuse, torture, and commercial exploitation of the children by their keepers, individuals who received public funds to care for them. After observing the brutal treatment of these youths, a significant number of whom were not criminals but runaways or mentally disabled, Wooden described the conditions in which these children lived in Weeping in the Playtime of Others.


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