Save the Children Books

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As a former foster child, my passion is advocating for and with foster care youth, publicizing the challenges that they face and addressing their developmental and emotional needs through workshops.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

All across the world, sunshine has been stolen from the sky. A girl is locked in an attic, mourning her father’s death. On the street below, an orphan boy serving as alchemist’s apprentice looks up at her window, longing to help her. When a ghost from the netherworld stumbles into Liesl’s attic room, the magic begins – and nothing will ever be the same.

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Friday, August 26, 2011


PICTURE BOOKS TO HELP CHILDREN TALK ABOUT
ABUSE AND COMPLEX LIVING SITUATIONS

The Boy Who Didn’t Want to Be Sad by Rob Goldblatt, 2004. A boy who doesn’t want to be sad anymore decides that the best way to protect himself is to get rid of anything that could make him sad – but discovers that he is closing off his heart to many of life’s joys as well.

Edwardo: The Horriblest Boy in the Whole Wide World by John Burningham, 2007. When a perfectly normal boy experiences verbal abuse from his caregivers, his behavior goes downhill – until the adults in his life remember to look for and recognize his positive qualities.

A Family That Fights by Sharon Chesler Bernstein, 1991. Henry's parents fight often and his father sometimes hits his mother, causing Henry to feel frightened and ashamed. This book includes a list of things children can do in situations of family violence.

Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, 2002. Children who have been abused or witnessed abuse can mimic what they have seen. This book offers alternative solutions for dealing with anger and frustration.

Is A Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff, 2005. This book acknowledges and addresses the worries of children and helps the child deal with them through problem-solving and/or telling a trusted adult.

The Magic Beads by Nancy Neilsen-Fernlund, 2007. When Lily thinks about what to bring in for Show and Tell at school, the butterflies in her stomach turn to grasshoppers, bunny rabbits, donkeys and buffaloes. She and her mother are currently staying in a homeless shelter, and she doesn't know what to share.

One of the Problems of Everett Anderson by Lucille Clifton, 2001. Everett suspects that his friend at school might be abused, and doesn’t know what to do, so he asks a trusted adult for advice.

Please Tell! A Child's Story About Sexual Abuse by Jessie Ottenweller, 1991. Nine-year-old Jennie's words and illustrations help other sexually abused children know that they're not alone, that it's okay to talk about their feelings, and that the abuse wasn't their fault.

Sometimes Bad Things Happen by Ellen Jackson, 2002. Mentions some of the bad things that happen in the world and presents some positive ways to respond to them. 

Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry by Bebe Moore Campbell, 2003. Annie reaches out to her grandmother for help when her mother acts out due to mental illness.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes, 2000. After Sherman sees something terrible happen, he becomes anxious and angry, but talking through those emotions with an adult proves to be helpful.

There’s a Big Beautiful World Out There by Nancy Carlson, 2002. This book acknowledges the frightening things in this world, while reminding readers of the good things they miss if they don't venture out: If you hide under your covers, you won't see the rainbow after the storm.”

What Do You Do With A Problem?  by Kobi Yamada, 2016. The story of a persistent problem and a child who isn't sure how to deal with it. 

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PICTURE BOOKS TO HELP CHILDREN TALK ABOUT
THEIR FOSTER CARE EXPERIENCE

A Child is A Child by Brigette Weninger, 2004. After two young frogs are abandoned by their parents, Mama Mouse mobilizes the entire animal community to help care for them.

Aunt Minnie McGranahan by Mary Skillings Prigger, 1999. Based on a true story; when nine orphans came to live with her, Aunt Minnie came up with a solution: "The oldest looked after the youngest, the ones in the middle looked after each other, and Aunt Minnie looked after them all.”

Be Who You Are by Todd Parr (2016).

A Father Like That by Charlotte Zolotow, 2007. A boy growing up without a father lists the activities that he wishes they could share, and decides to grow up and become the type of father that he never had.

Foster Parents by Rebecca Rissman, 2011. Describes what foster families are and how they care for children who need help until they return to their original families or move on to a permanent family.

Goodbyes by Shelley Rotner, 2002. Simple text, accompanied by photos, explains that sometimes people live in more than one home, and that goodbyes might not be forever, but might be just “bye for now.”

Kids Need to be Safe by Julie Nelson, 2005. This book is designed to help foster children understand why they aren’t currently with their biological parents, and offer them hope and reassurance.

Let’s Talk About When Your Parent is in Jail by Maureen K. Wittbold, 1997. Having a parent in jail can be one of the reasons that children enter foster care. This book answers many questions that children can be harboring.

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia K. Wright, 2002. Provides a simple explanation for children in foster care about the processes impacting their lives, and acknowledges the questions for which there is no easy answer, such as: “When am I going home?”

A Mother for Choco by Keiko Kasza, 1992. A motherless bird searches for the right place to belong – and finally finds it with Mrs. Bear, who takes Choco into her loving home and introduces him to his new siblings.

Murphy’s Three Homes by Jan Levinson Gilman, 2008. A puppy who moves from home to home learns that it is not his fault, and finds a family who will love him even if he struggles to obey their rules.

My Dog Is As Smelly As Dirty Socks by Hanoch Piven, 2007. During their time in foster care, children often create Life Books with pictures and stories about their biological families. This book, while not specifically geared towards foster care, suggests creative collage techniques that might work well in Life Books.

My New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo (2016)

Our Gracie Aunt by Jacqueline Woodson, 2002. Initially reluctant to open the door to a social worker asking how long their mother has been gone, two children find comfort and safety at their Aunt Gracie’s house.

When I Miss You by Cornelia Maude Spelman, 2004. Various situations can cause a child to be separated from parents – for a short or long time. This book is a tool for caregivers to assist children of all backgrounds to share what it feels like to miss someone and problem-solve what to do while waiting to be reunited.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by MaryRose Wood

When 15-year-old Penelope Lumley, recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is enlisted by Lord Ashton to serve as governess for three children who have been literally raised by wolves, she rises to the challenge. Armed only with pluck, optimism and Agatha Swanburne’s wise sayings, Penelope seeks not only to educate the children, but also untangle the mystery of their birth.

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Thursday, June 09, 2011

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer

Orphaned by the London plague of 1797, Mary Faber survives by joining a street gang. When her best mate is killed, she cuts her hair, changes her name, lies about her age, and secures a post as a ship's boy on the HMS Dolphin. Thus, the "Bloody Jack" series begins... with its impulsive heroine continually surrounded by challenges that cannot quench her love for adventure.

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Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by R. L. LaFevers

Theodosia Throckmorton is an 11-year-old girl living in London in 1906. She sleeps in a sarcophagus, and can read hieroglyphics. In short, she's not your average girl. Theo's parents run London's Museum of Legends and Antiquities, the place where she spends most of her time. What her parents don't realize is that many of the antiquities that Theo's mother brings home from her archaeological expeditions are cursed. It's up to Theo to remove the curses, unraveling international intrigue along the way.

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The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

After the disappearance of her mother, 14-year-old Enola Holmes is determined not to allow her older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock, to send her off to boarding school. Raised by an unconventional mother who largely ignored Victorian values, Enola has grown accustomed to freedom. She runs away to London in the hopes of reuniting with her mother - but finds instead a series of mysteries to solve.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Stone Angel by Carol O'Connell

When NYPD detective Louis Markowitz arrested 10-year-old Kathy Mallory for stealing, he and his wife adopted her, rather than taking her to juvenile hall.

Now Markowitz and his wife are both dead, and Mallory has grown from a feral child into a formidable cop, both beautiful and cold.

After solving the mystery of Markowitz's murder, Mallory journeys further back into her past to find out the truth about what happened to her biological mother.

Blankets by Craig Thompson

A young boy hides under the blankets from his abusive father. Later in life, blankets become linked with his first love and the time they spend together.


This graphic memoir surpasses typical coming-of-age stories, both in its masterful plot and with the multi-dimensional perspective that only a comic book can provide.

The result is powerful and mesmerizing.

Sister Mine by Tawni O'Dell

A former cop returns to her hometown to start her own cab company.

Smart, sassy and tough-as-nails, She-Lynn always believed that, while she was away at college, her younger sister was murdered by their abusive father.

But when a nosy lawyer comes around asking questions, Shae-Lyeen begins to suspect that her sister might have survived after all.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Speak for This Child: True Stories of A Child Advocate by Gayle Cortier.

Before being accepted into the Guardian ad Litem training program, Gayle Courtier and her classmates submitted applications and references, and were subject to thorough background checks.

In their classes:
-An attorney shared an outline of dependency law.
-A psychologist outlined the milestones of child development, cycles of abuse, and the issues of attachment, separation, loss and permanency.
-A presentor used slides and films to cover the topics of physical and sexual abuse.
-A representative from the rehabilitation department explained their services.
-A seasoned Guardian ad Litem shared her personal experiences.

But it was by working as a guardian that Gayle received her true education:
-Seeing HRS separate teenage siblings, with no attempts to keep them together.
-Seeing a healthy teenage boy discriminated against because he came from a "tainted"family.
-Watching HRS place that teenage boy in an authoritarian home with military-style rules that were in direct opposition to the laissez-faire environment of his childhood.

In her role as Guardian ad Litem, Gayle serves as a voice for foster children. Fortunately, she is perceptive enough to recognize the needs of the children whose lives she is entrusted with, and courageous enough to fight for what they desire. She also maintains a teachable spirit, and is willing to learn new things, such as the predictable levels of adjustment that children go through at each new placement.

When displaced children enter a new placement, they typically experience a "honeymoon," wherein they try to understand the rules, structure and latitude of their new living situation. During this time, the child merely watches and conforms. When a child (or teenager) becomes more comfortable, limit-testing might take place.

Too often, foster placements collapse when a child enters the stage of resistance:
1.) A caregiver gets involved in a power struggle with the child.
2. ) A cycle of conflict ensues .
3.) The foster parent or institution rejects the child.
4.) The child (or teenager) is sent to a new placement.
5.) The cycle starts again.

The truly sad aspect to this cycle is that, if a foster placement or institution is willing to weather the resistance period, that stage is followed by 'beginning trust and achievement.'

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Jamaica and Me: The Story of An Unusual Friendship by Linda Atkins

The memoir begins with Jamaica's first appearance, as an apparition darting in and out of subway tunnels. At first, she is mistakenly thought to be a dog or the shadow of a rat.

The police discover that Jamaica is no animal, just a homeless, abandoned little girl. Her mother, a prostitute, is AWOL. She has no recollection of her father. Therein begins a series of foster and institutional placements.

Linda Atkins first meets Jamaica while volunteering at the welfare hospital. The two of them develop a friendship. It is with Linda that Jamaica rides her first bike, celebrates her first birthday (they invent a date) and experiences her first glimpse of unconditional love.

Linda's requests that she be notified when Jamaica is moved from one placement to another are repeatedly ignored. "Jamaica had been sent away from her precarious home, with a strange man she had never seen, to begin life in a totally foreign place once again. It seemed impossible to persuade anyone of the importance of watching over her."

Not surprisingly, Jamaice develops a pattern of acting out physically and shutting down emotionally at each new placement. This creates a domino effect, since her behavior quickly alienates staff members.

When Linda Atkins tracks Jamaica down, in placement after placement, and comes to visit her, staff express their negative opinions of Jamaica. They make judgmental remarks and dire prophecies in Jamaica's presence:

"It was as though the fact that she was not loved made her unlovable, that no mother cared about her seemed to invite callous disregard. Everything that had been done to her somehow seemed to make her unworthy of tenderness. Jamaica had been marked as untouchable; people did not identify with her or feel compassion for her."

As the reader, I felt a great deal of compassion for Jamaica. I put the book down after finishing it, and was filled with the desire to know what happened to her.

Linda Atkin's experiences validated my belief that every foster child deserves to have one stable, permanent person in their life. This person should be allowed to maintain contact with the child, wherever the child is placed.

How can a child develop attachment when all of their emotional attachments are transitory?