Learning about foster care can feel overwhelming! We compiled a reading list of good books we think you should check out if you want to learn more about being part of the foster care system.
Bridge, Andrew. Hope’s Boy. New York: Hyperion, 2006.
At seven years old, Andrew was torn from his mother’s arms due to her mental health steadily declining. Andrew’s mother, Hope, was institutionalized and Andrew was placed in foster care for the next eleven years of his life.
After surviving one of America’s most notorious children’s facilities, the nightmare continued as Andrew was thrust into a loveless foster home that savagely refused to accept him. Despite the lack of care and nurture, Andrew held onto his commitment to academics and the warmness of teachers.
Ultimately, Andrew earned a scholarship, eventually attended Harvard Law School and become a Fulbright Scholar. Through the book, “Hope’s Boy,” we learn how he defied the most challenging odds set against him in his inspirational memoir.
Brown, Waln K., and John R. Seita. Growing Up in the Care of Strangers: The Experiences, Insights and Recommendation of Eleven Former Foster Kids. Tallahassee: William Gladden Foundation Press, 2009.
This book plays a valuable role in foster care training and offers insightful feedback from foster care alumni who grew up in orphanages, group homes, adoptive and mental health placements.
Each former foster child reflects on his or her childhood experiences through the lens of professional adults, each of which lends critical knowledge for those who want to improve the system and services to youth living in foster care.
Desetta, Al. (ed.) The Heart Knows Something Different: Teenage Voices from the Foster Care System. New York: Youth Communication, 1996.
This book is full of articles and letters written by New York-based teenagers in foster care and covers topics ranging from families, the foster care system, identity, and the future.
Diffenbaugh, Vanessa. The Language of Flowers. (2011) A novel
Flowers have been used to convey romantic expressions for a long time, but for Victoria Jones, former foster child, they help communicate mistrust and solitude. After emancipation from the system, Victoria discovers her gift for selecting flowers for others, but an unexpected counter from an unknown stranger forces her to question all the things she missed in her life.
Dominguez, Julian J., and Melinda Murphy. A Culture of Fear: An Inside Look at Los Angeles County’s Department of Children & Family Services. Houston: Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, 2014.
Read this book to gain insight into the largest child protective services agency in the country, Los Angeles County's Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) through current and former DCFS employees who, respectively, expose some of the most serious deficiencies of the agency.
This book serves as a starting point to evoke dialogue and inspire change for a system that needs to be reconsidered.
Fitch, Janet. White Oleander. (2001) A novel
Highly regarded as a novel of beauty and passion, White Oleander reveals a memorable story of Astrid, daughter of a poet imprisoned for murder, and her series of stories each marked by Los Angeles foster homes that came with individual laws, dangers, and hard learned lessons that end up unveiling a beautiful journey of self-discovery.
Krebs, Betsy, and Paul Pitcoff. Beyond the Foster Care System: The Future for Teens. New Brunswick: Rogers University Press, 2006.
Through an exploration of the foster care system, Betsy Krebs and Paul Pitcoff make a case that the current structure fails its youth and inadequately prepares them for adulthood. In order to uplift such troubling methodologies, Beyond the Foster Care System reveals successful alternative stories that prove there are solutions beyond the standard way of providing foster care.
Reece, Gary W. Broken Systems Shattered Lives. Denver: Outskirts Press, 2013.
Broken Systems Shattered Lives provides a rare insider’s perspective of the child welfare system and how it’s currently designed to sentence disenfranchised children to a lifetime of suffering.
Shirk, Martha, and Gary Stangler. On Their Own: What Happens to Kids When They Age Out of the Foster Care System. Boulder, CO: Basic Books, 2004.
On Their Own highlights ten compelling stories of young people whose lives are disrupted by the foster care system due to economic and social barriers. This book serves as a call to action not just for policymakers but to all Americans to provide foster youth with greater access to higher education, medical care, housing, and fruitful relationships within their communities.
Toth, Jennifer. Orphans of the Living: Stories of America’s Children in Foster Care. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.
Orphans of the Living reveals how the nation poorly cares for its abused and neglected children in the foster care system. Through the lens of the author, visits to America’s foster care homes and juvenile centers unfolds how youth attempt to survive in an overextended system.