Here is a list of books you can use for additional training hours or just to read.
If you know of any books you would like to see included on these lists that others might enjoy/appreciate, please let your supervisor or the Director of Training know and we will update the list.
For training hours – you can use up to TWO books and/or movies per fiscal year towards your required hours.
To use these books towards your training hours, you must read your selection and write a two to three paragraph description of each book. You must then add your description in the notes section of your training log in Optima.
For books you will get ONE hour of training for every 100 pages of the book, plus 15 minutes for writing the summary.
Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no income if she didn’t donate plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter, Brianna, in Chicago, often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends. After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen before — households surviving on virtually no cash income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to one and a half million households, including about three million children.
Carefully researched and packed with charts, tables, and questionnaires, Framework not only documents the facts of poverty, it provides practical yet compassionate strategies for addressing its impact on people’s lives.
Jonathan Kozol’s classic book on life and death in the South Bronx—the poorest urban neighborhood of the United States brings us into overcrowded schools, dysfunctional hospitals, and rat-infested homes where families have been ravaged by depression and anxiety, drug-related violence, and the spread of AIDS. The author also introduces us to devoted and unselfish teachers, dedicated ministers, and—at the heart and center of the book—courageous and delightful children.
The sharp and surprising true story of a woman who finally sets out to understand her past, and the mother she had one day hoped to forget. Full of unexpected twists and unbelievable revelations, American Daughter is an immersive memoir that will have you on the edge of your seat to the very last page.
For years, Stephanie Plymale, successful CEO and interior designer, kept her past a fiercely guarded secret. Only her husband knew that her childhood was fraught with every imaginable hardship: neglect, hunger, poverty, homelessness, truancy, foster homes, a harrowing lack of medical care, and worse. Stephanie, in turn, knew very little about the past of her mother, who was in and out of jails and psych wards for most of Stephanie’s formative years. All this changed when a series of shocking revelations forced Stephanie to revisit her tortured past and revise the meaning of every aspect of her compromised childhood.
American Daughter is the extraordinary true story of a young girl growing up on the wrong side of the American Dream. Stephanie has slept in blankets on the floor of crowded apartments, lived in the back seat of a car with her siblings, and spent decades looking over her shoulder at a mother who might just as easily hug or harm her. American Daughter is at once a moving account of a troubled mother-daughter relationship and a meditation on resilience, transcendence, and ultimately, redemption.
What had happened to my beautiful boy? To our family? What did I do wrong? Those are the wrenching questions that haunted David Sheff’s journey through his son Nic’s addiction to drugs and tentative steps toward recovery. Before Nic became addicted to crystal meth, he was a charming boy, joyous and funny, a varsity athlete and honor student adored by his two younger siblings. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who lied, stole, and lived on the streets. David Sheff traces the first warning signs: the denial, the three a.m. phone calls—is it Nic? the police? the hospital? His preoccupation with Nic became an addiction in itself. But as a journalist, he instinctively researched every treatment that might save his son. And he refused to give up on Nic.
Born into a large working-class family in upstate New York, Christina Meredith endured years of abuse before entering the foster care system as a teenager. As she prayed in her car every day, Christina had no idea that in just a few years, she would be crowned Ms. California. She had no idea that her suffering would one day help others find healing. But she did know that she was destined for more, and she would not give up hope no matter the circumstance.
If one should never trust the person who has had a happy childhood, then Ellen Foster, the 11-year-old heroine of Kaye Gibbons’s accomplished first novel, may be the most trustworthy character in recent fiction….In many ways this is an old-fashioned novel about traditional values and inherited prejudices, taking place in a South where too little has changed too slowly.
Regina Calcaterra is a successful lawyer, former New York State official, and foster youth activist. Her painful early life, however, was quite different. Regina and her four siblings survived an abusive and painful childhood only to find themselves faced with the challenges of the foster-care system and intermittent homelessness in the shadows of Manhattan and the Hamptons.
In Evicted, Princeton sociologist and MacArthur “Genius” Matthew Desmond follows eight families in Milwaukee as they each struggle to keep a roof over their heads.
Being the middle child has its ups and downs.
But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—
Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.
And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him.
The author writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, or multiple severe disabilities; with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, and Solomon documents triumphs of love over prejudice in every chapter.
Foster Girl reveals what it feels like to grow up in foster care. Readers will come away from this book with a better understanding of how the foster care system works and what we can all do to make a difference.
Garbage Bag Suitcase is the true story of Shenandoah Chefalo’s wholly dysfunctional journey through a childhood with neglectful, drug-and alcohol addicted parents. She endured numerous moves in the middle of the night with just minutes to pack, multiple changes in schools, hunger, cruelty, and loneliness.
In the highly anticipated sequel to her New York Times bestseller Etched in Sand, Regina Calcaterra pairs with her youngest sister Rosie to tell Rosie’s harrowing, yet ultimately triumphant, story of childhood abuse and survival.
During her teens, Rachel Lloyd ended up a victim of commercial sexual exploitation. With time through incredible resilience, and with the help of a local church community, she finally broke free of her pimp and her past.
Provides scientific evidence that violence can originate in the womb and become entrenched in a child’s brain by preschool.
“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.”
So begins the story of Lily Casey Smith, Jeannette Walls’s no-nonsense, resourceful, and spectacularly compelling grandmother. By age six, Lily was helping her father break horses. At fifteen, she left home to teach in a frontier town—riding five hundred miles on her pony, alone, to get to her job. She learned to drive a car and fly a plane. And, with her husband, Jim, she ran a vast ranch in Arizona. She raised two children, one of whom is Jeannette’s memorable mother, Rosemary Smith Walls, unforgettably portrayed in The Glass Castle.Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.
Each year, more than half a million Americans are released from prison and join a population of twenty million people who live with a felony record. Read this poignant and eye-opening book by Reuben Miller, a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and now a sociologist studying mass incarceration. He spent years alongside prisoners, ex-prisoners, their friends, and their families to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work revealed is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison. Recently released individuals are faced with jobs that are off-limits, apartments that cannot be occupied and votes that cannot be cast. Halfway Home is a call to arms that reveals how laws, rules, and regulations extract a tangible cost from those working to rebuild their lives.
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
Liz Hauck and her dad had a plan to start a weekly cooking program in a residential home for teenage boys in state care, which was run by the human services agency he co-directed. When her father died before they had a chance to get the project started, Liz decided she would try it without him. She didn’t know what to expect from volunteering with court-involved youth, but as a high school teacher she knew that teenagers are drawn to food-related activities, and as a daughter, she believed that if she and the kids made even a single dinner together she could check one box off of her father’s long, unfinished to-do list. This is the story of what happened around the table, and how one dinner became one hundred dinners.“The kids picked the menus, I bought the groceries,” Liz writes, “and we cooked and ate dinner together for two hours a week for nearly three years. Sometimes improvisation in kitchens is disastrous. But sometimes, a combination of elements produces something spectacularly unexpected. I think that’s why, when we don’t know what else to do, we feed our neighbors.”
Capturing the clumsy choreography of cooking with other people, this is a sharply observed story about the ways we behave when we are hungry and the conversations that happen at the intersections of flavor and memory, vulnerability and strength, grief and connection.
Antiracism is a transformative concept that reorients and reenergizes the conversation about racism—and, even more fundamentally, points us toward liberating new ways of thinking about ourselves and each other. At its core, racism is a powerful system that creates false hierarchies of human value; its warped logic extends beyond race, from the way we regard people of different ethnicities or skin colors to the way we treat people of different sexes, gender identities, and body types.
How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.
This bestselling classic by internationally acclaimed experts on communication between parents and children includes fresh insights and suggestions, as well as the author’s time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships, including innovative ways to:
– Cope with your child’s negative feelings, such as frustration, anger, and disappointment
– Express your strong feelings without being hurtful
– Engage your child’s willing cooperation
– Set firm limits and maintain goodwill
– Use alternatives to punishment that promote self-discipline
– Understand the difference between helpful and unhelpful praise
– Resolve family conflicts peacefully
Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, Faber and Mazlish’s down-to-earth, respectful approach makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding.
In recent years, Americans have woken up to the reality that human trafficking is not just something that happens in other countries. But what most still do not understand is that neither is it something that just happens to “other people” such as runaways or the disenfranchised. The human trafficker is no respecter of faith, education, or socioeconomic status, and even kids who are raised in solid families in middle and upper class suburbs can fall victim. Likewise, labor trafficking happens in our cities, neighborhoods, and rural areas.
Based on nearly a decade of reporting, Invisible Child follows eight dramatic years in the life of Dasani Coates, a child with an imagination as soaring as the skyscrapers near her Brooklyn homeless shelter. Born at the turn of a new century, Dasani is named for the bottled water that comes to symbolise Brooklyn’s gentrification and the shared aspirations of a divided city. As Dasani moves with her family from shelter to shelter, this story traces the passage of Dasani’s ancestors from slavery to the Great Migration north.
Dasani comes of age as New York City’s homeless crisis is exploding. In the shadows of this new Gilded Age, Dasani leads her seven siblings through a thicket of problems: hunger, parental drug addiction, violence, housing instability, segregated schools and the constant monitoring of the child-protection system.
When, at age thirteen, Dasani enrolls at a boarding school in Pennsylvania, her loyalties are tested like never before. Ultimately, she faces an impossible question: What if leaving poverty means abandoning the family you love?
By turns heartbreaking and revelatory, provocative and inspiring, Invisible Child tells an astonishing story about the power of resilience, the importance of family and the cost of inequality.
Depression. Anxiety. Chronic Pain. Phobias. Obsessive thoughts. The evidence is compelling: the roots of these difficulties may not reside in our immediate life experience or in chemical imbalances in our brains—but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents. The latest scientific research, now making headlines, supports what many have long intuited—that traumatic experience can be passed down through generations. It Didn’t Start with You builds on the work of leading experts in post-traumatic stress, including Mount Sinai School of Medicine neuroscientist Rachel Yehuda and psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score. Even if the person who suffered the original trauma has died, or the story has been forgotten or silenced, memory and feelings can live on. These emotional legacies are often hidden, encoded in everything from gene expression to everyday language, and they play a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than has ever before been understood.
Bryan Stevenson grew up in the racially segregated South. His innate sense of justice made him a brilliant lawyer, and one of his first defendants was Walter McMillian, a black man sentenced to die for the murder of a white woman – a crime he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, startling racial inequality, and legal brinkmanship – and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.
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 moment Jessica walked into her high school English class and laid eyes on fellow classmate Trent, she felt alive in ways that she had always dreamed of. Swept up in a teen romance by the very charming Trent, Jessica finally had the connection and attention she’d always wanted but never seemed to achieve. When other sides of Trent’s personality began to emerge–jealous, demanding, controlling–Jessica was convinced that if she could only please and satisfy him the way he deserved, the relationship would survive.
In this groundbreaking book, therapist Resmaa Menakem examines the damage caused by racism in America from the perspective of trauma and body-centered psychology. The body is where our instincts reside and where we fight, flee, or freeze, and it endures the trauma inflicted by the ills that plague society. Menakem argues this destruction will continue until Americans learn to heal the generational anguish of white supremacy, which is deeply embedded in all our bodies. Our collective agony doesn’t just affect African Americans. White Americans suffer their own secondary trauma as well. So do blue Americans—our police.
A disturbing look at how the lives of Americas modern-day orphans are sacrificed for the often unrealistic goal of keeping troubled families together. Bartholet (Family Bonds: Adoption and the Politics of Parenting, 1993), an expert on family law and an adoptive mother herself, traces the historical, political, and cultural reasons why battered and neglected children are far more likely to spend years in foster limbo, or be sent back to abusive homes, than to be adopted by loving families. The author charges that despite recent legislation that bars race as a factor, everyone from private foundation administrators to judges, lawyers, and bureaucrats continues to be guided by the notion that children should be cared for by relatives, or adopted by families who look like them. Back in 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers denounced transracial adoption as a form of racial genocide. Though race-matching policies have gone underground since then, Bartholet believes they resurface in criteria like kinship and cultural competence. Because other relatives may not be up to the task of parenting, and because there are not enough minority families to adopt all the children who need them, the author asserts that race-matching essentially condemns many youngsters to lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional damage.
Kids in danger are treated instrumentally to promote the rehabilitation of their parents, the welfare of their communities, and the social justice of their race and tribe—all with the inevitable result that their most precious developmental years are lost in bureaucratic and judicial red tape. It is time to stop letting efforts to fix the child welfare system get derailed by activists who are concerned with race-matching, blood ties, and the abstract demands of social justice, and start asking the most important question: Where are the emotionally and financially stable, loving, and permanent homes where these kids can thrive?
“Naomi Riley’s book reveals the extent to which abused and abandoned children are often injured by their government rescuers. It is a must-read for those seeking solutions to this national crisis.” —Robert L. Woodson, Sr., civil rights leader and president of the Woodson Center
“Everyone interested in child welfare should grapple with Naomi Riley’s powerful evidence that the current system ill-serves the safety and well-being of vulnerable kids.” —Walter Olson, senior fellow, Cato Institute, Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies
A captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.
A child never perceives the thought of life without parents, and when it does happen, it can shatter the child’s heart and tear down any sense of security. Children in this situation are forced to either die in the tragedy or find a way to live and survive it. I set out to survive… Pieces of the Pearl: Memoirs of a Foster Child’s Triumphant Transformation tells the true-life story of Teresa Ann Winton, who invites you to journey into the depths of her soul where a vulnerable and profoundly sad little girl once lived. Teresa’s unstable home left her exposed to abuse, poverty, and neglect. Foster care, a system meant to help the helpless, brought even more trauma and loss. But in spite of it all, Teresa forged ahead, refusing to succumb to despair. In this poignant story, the author interlaces poetry and narrative, sharing her joys and sorrows, her triumphs and tears. Pieces of the Pearl: Memoirs of a Foster Child’s Triumphant Transformation is a search for wholeness and reconciliation, one whose spiritual message of undying faith, hope, and love will leave readers inspired. A story like Pieces of the Pearl must be told. The teeming masses of humanity must be exposed to a true story of ‘can do.’ People must see real faith at work–a faith that is not ignorant of the ugliness of man, but does not blame that ugliness on God
The story of young people trying to outrun their destinies. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between survival and death.
In Georgina Lawton’s childhood home, her Blackness was never acknowledged; the obvious fact of her brown skin, ignored by her white parents. Over time, secrets and a complex family story became accepted as truth and Georgina found herself complicit in the erasure of her racial identity.
It was only when her beloved father died that the truth began to emerge. Fleeing the shattered pieces of her family life and the comfortable, suburban home she grew up in, at age 22 Georgina went in search of answers – embarking on a journey that took her around the world, to the DNA testing industry, and to countless others, whose identities have been questioned, denied or erased.
What if you could save a child’s life?
Each year, almost 700,000 American children are abused. Between four and seven kids die every day as a result of abuse or neglect. Child protective services, paralyzed by bureaucracy and relying on underpaid and overworked personnel, often do not intervene on time. Foster parents, the unsung heroes of the system, fight a lonely battle which they frequently lose. Children are tortured, starved, imprisoned, trafficked, or pushed into the foster to prison pipeline. This book will open your eyes and help you get involved.
Carissa Phelps was a runner. By the time she was twelve, she had run away from home, dropped out of school, and fled blindly into the arms of a brutal pimp. Even when she escaped him, she could not outrun the crushing inner pain of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. With little to hope for, she expected to end up in prison, or worse. But then her life was transformed through the unexpected kindness of a teacher and a counselor. Through small miracles, Carissa accomplished the unimaginable, graduating from UCLA with both a law degree and an MBA. She left the streets behind, yet found herself back, this time working to help homeless and at-risk youth discover their own paths to a better life.
Whisked from a child’s cozy life in Queens to the streets of Manhattan, clutching the hand of her intense and troubled mother, Justine begins a journey over which she has little control. Along with her two adored older brothers, she finds herself wrapped in a fantasy-fueled odyssey engineered by her mother, spending nights in cheap hotels they can’t afford, or park benches and subway trains, always on the lookout for food.Meanwhile, her father looms in the distance with his new family, ineffectual–until at long last he takes life-altering action.
Based on a true story, Brooke Nolan is a battered child who makes an anonymous phone call about the escalating brutality in her home. When Social Services jeopardize her safety, condemning her to keep her father’s secret, it’s a glass of spilled milk at the dinner table that forces her to speak about the cruelty she’s been hiding.
After their decision not to have a biological child, Sarah Sentilles and her husband, Eric, decide to adopt via the foster care system. Despite knowing that the system’s goal is the child’s reunification with the birth family, Sarah opens their home to a flurry of social workers who question them, evaluate them, and ultimately prepare them to welcome a child into their lives—even if it means most likely having to give the child back. After years of starts and stops, and endless navigation of the complexities and injustices of the foster care system, a phone call finally comes: a three-day-old baby girl named Coco, in immediate need of a foster family. Sarah and Eric bring this newborn stranger home.
“You were never ours,” Sarah tells Coco, “yet we belong to each other.”
A love letter to Coco and to the countless children like her, Stranger Care chronicles Sarah’s discovery of what it means to mother—in this case, not just a vulnerable infant but the birth mother who loves her, too. Ultimately, Coco’s story reminds us that we depend on family, and that family can take different forms. With prose that Nick Flynn has called “fearless, stirring, rhythmic,” Sentilles lays bare an intimate, powerful story with universal concerns: How can we care for and protect one another? How do we ensure a more hopeful future for life on this planet? And if we’re all related—tree, bird, star, person—how might we better live?
A stirring and powerful memoir from black cultural critic Rebecca Carroll recounting her painful struggle to overcome a completely white childhood in order to forge her identity as a black woman in America.
Rebecca Carroll grew up the only black person in her rural New Hampshire town. Adopted at birth by artistic parents who believed in peace, love, and zero population growth, her early childhood was loving and idyllic—and yet she couldn’t articulate the deep sense of isolation she increasingly felt as she grew older.
Foster Care is a whole other world that most of the world’s population knows little to nothing about. Many people do not know the very low statistics young people endure in order to successfully age-out of foster care.
Less than 5% of young people with the experience of foster care graduate post-secondary education. There are many youth who become prey to sex-trafficking or suseptable to suicide due to homelessness, mental health challenges and no support system. Now, couple the child welfare system with the element of racial injustices and the history of white supremacy and the topic may even become taboo.
Ángela Quijada-Banks, a woman of African and Indigeneous descent has taken the liberty of giving back to these communities for a half a decade through advocacy, advisory and organizational training. Through her travels across the nation, speaking to congressional members, federal stakeholders and constituents of the foster care system she decided some sort of manual was needed to combat the shocking low success rates of young people with the background of foster care. This handbook is written to be supplemental to young people in foster care’s navigation through foster care and healing beyond it.
Supportive adults such as foster/resource parents, case managers, GALs, therapists and social workers will also find this to be helpful in their roles in young people’s lives. Success is possible regardless of where you come from, you just have to know where to look, who to trust and believe in the one person that can get you to the other side of pain and trauma, you.
Dr. Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz – The authors explain what happens to the brain when a child is exposed to extreme stress, and how today’s innovative treatments are helping ease children’s pain, allowing them to become healthy adults.
Dr. Nadine Burke Harris was already known as a crusading physician delivering targeted care to vulnerable children. But it was Diego—a boy who had stopped growing after a sexual assault—who galvanized her journey to uncover the connections between toxic stress and lifelong illnesses.
The stunning news of Burke Harris’s research is just how deeply our bodies can be imprinted by ACEs—adverse childhood experiences like abuse, neglect, parental addiction, mental illness, and divorce. Childhood adversity changes our biological systems, and lasts a lifetime. For anyone who has faced a difficult childhood, or who cares about the millions of children who do, the fascinating scientific insight and innovative, acclaimed health interventions in The Deepest Well represent vitally important hope for preventing lifelong illness for those we love and for generations to come?.
A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin’s early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document. It consists of two “letters,” written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism.
The extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, “nothing short of spectacular” (Entertainment Weekly) memoir from one of the world’s most gifted storytellers.
The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette’s brilliant and charismatic father captured his children’s imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn’t want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
The Glass Castle is truly astonishing—a memoir permeated by the intense love of a peculiar but loyal family.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.
In this taut and explosive debut novel, one lapse in judgement lands a young mother in a government reform program where custody of her child hangs in the balance.
Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.
Until Frida has a very bad day.
The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.
Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.
A searing page-turner that is also a transgressive novel of ideas about the perils of “perfect” upper-middle class parenting; the violence enacted upon women by both the state and, at times, one another; the systems that separate families; and the boundlessness of love, The School for Good Mothers introduces, in Frida, an everywoman for the ages. Using dark wit to explore the pains and joys of the deepest ties that bind us, Chan has written a modern literary classic.
Heather McGhee’s specialty is the American economy—and the mystery of why it so often fails the American public. From the financial crisis to rising student debt to collapsing public infrastructure, she found a common root problem: racism. But not just in the most obvious indignities for people of color. Racism has costs for white people, too. It is the common denominator of our most vexing public problems, the core dysfunction of our democracy and constitutive of the spiritual and moral crises that grip us all. But how did this happen? And is there a way out?
An inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice.
In the sequel to the New York Times bestselling memoir Three Little Words, Ashley Rhodes-Courter expands on life beyond the foster care system, the joys and heartbreak with the family she’s created, and her efforts to make peace with her past.
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.
Whether she’s overcoming self-image issues, responding to calls asking for her to run for Senate, or dealing with continuing drama from her biological family, Ashley Rhodes-Courter never fails to impress or inspire with her authentic voice and uplifting message of hope.
Beam shows us the intricacies of growing up in the system—the back-and-forth with agencies, the rootless shuffling between homes, the emotionally charged tug between foster and birth parents, the terrifying push out of foster care and into adulthood. Humanizing and challenging a broken system, To the End of June offers a tribute to resiliency and hope for real change.
With emotional depth and unparalleled honesty, Sarah McBride shares her personal struggle with gender identity, coming out to her supportive but distraught parents, and finding her way as a woman. She inspires readers with her barrier-breaking political journey that took her, in just four years, from a frightened, closeted college student to one of the nation’s most prominent transgender activists walking the halls of the White House, passing laws, and speaking at the Democratic National Convention in 2016 in the midst of a heated presidential election. She also details the heartbreaking romance with her first love and future husband Andy, a trans man and activist, who passed away from cancer in 2014 just days after they were married.
A comprehensive guide to the medical, emotional, and social issues of trans kids. These days, it is practically impossible not to hear about some aspect of transgender life. Whether it is the bathroom issue in North Carolina, trans people in the military, or on television, trans life has become front and center after years of marginalization. And kids are coming out as trans at younger and younger ages, which is a good thing for them. But what written resources are available to parents, teachers, and mental health professionals who need to support these children?
Elijah C. Nealy, a therapist and former deputy executive director of New York City’s LGBT Community Center, and himself a trans man, has written the first-ever comprehensive guide to understanding, supporting, and welcoming trans kids. Covering everything from family life to school and mental health issues, as well as the physical, social, and emotional aspects of transition, this book is full of best practices to support trans kids.
Today, two cultural forces are converging to make America’s youth easy targets for sex traffickers. Younger and younger girls are engaging in adult sexual attitudes and practices, and the pressure to conform means thousands have little self-worth and are vulnerable to exploitation. At the same time, thanks to social media, texting, and chatting services, predators are able to ferret out their victims more easily than ever before. In Walking Prey, advocate and former victim Holly Austin Smith shows how middle class suburban communities are fast becoming the new epicenter of sex trafficking in America.
“Welcome to the Roller Coaster” was written by fourteen foster moms who have fostered a combined total of over one hundred thirty-five children. They have come together to share their personal stories in order to provide a glimpse into the real world of foster care. Though many of their journeys have been difficult, these ladies will inspire you with their stories of love, loss, and healing.
In this haunting and frank account, Donna Ford, bestselling author of The Step Child, returns to the horrific abuse she suffered at the hands of her stepmother. As a tiny girl of five, and for six long years, Donna was physically, mentally and sexually abused. She was starved, beaten and ‘loaned out’ to neighbours who raped and molested her … and throughout her father stood by and did nothing. When her stepmother finally left the family home, Donna dreamed of a normal childhood in which she would be taken care of by the man who had, up until this point, failed her. But it was not to be.
By telling the whole story of her Edinburgh childhood, Donna tries to understand why the man who should have loved her the most – her own father – was the one who deceived her the most, by continuing to allow men to abuse her. Instead of finding a future of love and happiness, Donna was once again thrust into a living nightmare of exploitation and betrayal by those who should have wrapped her up in their love.
While this is a true story of appalling child abuse, it is also a tale of how exhilaration, tenderness and self-development can flourish despite childhood horrors. We take a journey with Donna to discover the woman she has become: a devoted mother of three and a talented artist and writer.
What does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race? In the face of pervasive racial inequality and segregation, most white people cannot answer that question. In the second edition of this seminal text, Robin DiAngelo reveals the factors that make this question so difficult: mis-education about what racism is; ideologies such as individualism and colorblindness; segregation; and the belief that to be complicit in racism is to be an immoral person. These factors contribute to what she terms white racial illiteracy. Speaking as a white person to other white people, DiAngelo clearly and compellingly takes readers through an analysis of white socialization. Weaving research, analysis, stories, images, and familiar examples, she provides the framework needed to develop white racial literacy. She describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard to see, identifies common white racial patterns, and speaks back to popular narratives that work to deny racism.
A book on challenging racism by working against and understanding what the author terms “white fragility“, a reaction in which white people feel attacked or offended when the topic of racism arises. The book discusses many different aspects and manifestations of white fragility that DiAngelo personally encountered in her work as a diversity and inclusion training facilitator.
Everywhere hailed as a novel of rare beauty and power, White Oleander tells the unforgettable story of Ingrid, a brilliant poet imprisoned for murder, and her daughter, Astrid, whose odyssey through a series of Los Angeles foster homes-each its own universe, with its own laws, its own dangers, its own hard lessons to be learned-becomes a redeeming and surprising journey of self-discovery.
Claude M. Steele, who has been called “one of the few great social psychologists,” offers a vivid first-person account of the research that supports his groundbreaking conclusions on stereotypes and identity. He sheds new light on American social phenomena from racial and gender gaps in test scores to the belief in the superior athletic prowess of black men, and lays out a plan for mitigating these “stereotype threats” and reshaping American identities.
Why Do They Act That Way? was the first book to explain the scientific, brain-based reasons behind teens’ impulsive behavior, lack of focus, self-consciousness, territoriality, fatigue, and their quickness to anger and take risks—to name just a few common teen problems.
Now, award-winning psychologist Dr. David Walsh has updated this classic with the latest research into the adolescent brain and the new challenges that they face with social media and the 24/7 online world. With practical advice and reassuring guidance, Walsh provides realistic solutions for dealing with every day and major challenges. As a parent, psychologist, coach, and trusted expert, Dr. Walsh offers the best advice to help adolescents thrive and parents survive.
Kay Bratt draws on her own life experiences to create a raw, yet inescapably warm, novel about friendship and a wary heart’s unexpected capacity to love. A hungry, stray dog is the last thing Cara Butter needs. Stranded in Georgia with only her backpack and a few dwindling dollars, she already has too much baggage. Like her twin sister, Hana, who has broken Cara’s heart one too many times. After a lifetime of family troubles, and bouncing from one foster home to another, Cara decides to leave it all behind and strike out alone—on foot. Cara sets off to Florida to see the home of her literary hero, Ernest Hemingway, accompanied only by Hemi, the stray dog who proves to be the perfect travel companion. But the harrowing trip takes unexpected turns as strangers become friends who make her question everything, and Cara finds that as the journey unfolds, so does her life—in ways she could never imagine.
Your Silence Will Not Protect You is a 2017 posthumous collection of essays, speeches, and poems by African American author and poet Audre Lorde. It is the first time a British publisher collected Lorde’s work into one volume. The collection focuses on key themes such as: shifting language into action, silence as a form of violence, and the importance of history. Lorde describes herself as a “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet”, and addresses the difficulties in communication between Black and white women.