Book List

The following titles and more are available to check out at the CASA office.

Read any of these titles and write a summary report for 2 hours of in-service training.

CASA-specific literature

New! Care & Custody: A novel of three children at risk by Martha Gershun

Written by a retired Executive Director of Jackson County CASA, this novel is narrated by a CASA volunteer as she learns to navigate her first case. CASA Miriam advocates for three children in a case that spans 5 years, and readers get to see her story unfold in an unusual way. Instead of having a typical chapter format, the entire book is comprised of case documents, emails, court reports, and other documents that would typically be used to follow a real case.   


New! One Child at a Time: The mission of a CASA by Yolanda Bryant

This book shares the experiences of various CASA volunteers as they served children in the child welfare system. The first section of the book tells the story of a little girl named Kelly and how her CASA was able to become her voice in the courtroom. The second section of the book chronicles specific feelings and experiences that CASAs have encountered.


Child Abuse & Neglect: Memoirs

Garbage Bag Suitcase by Shenandoah Chefalo

The true story of one girl’s experience moving from her dysfunctional family to foster care. This book offers real stories alongside insight on how to reform the child welfare system.


Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
most a decade in foster care, often being abused and neglected by the very system that was responsible for her care. As a resilient youth who eventually finds love and stability with her adoptive family, Ashley uses her voice to share her story and advocate for children like herself who find themselves in need of care. 

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

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

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

The Privilege of Youth by Dave Pelzer

In his third book, Dave Pelzer supplies the missing chapter of his life as a boy moving into adulthood.


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

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

The Glass Castle, Author: Jeanette Walls 
In her childhood memoir, The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls offers a blow-by-blow description of growing up with parents whose capacity for loving their children is greater than their ability to care for them.

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

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



The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog, Authors: Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz
Traumatized children can teach us about loss, love and healing. A psychiatrist carefully examines and explains attachment disorders including RAD.

The Body Keeps Score: Brain, Mind, & Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk

Dr. Van Der Kolk combines scientific research with his three decades of experience working with trauma victims to demonstrate how trauma affects the brain and body.


Substance Abuse

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

In this candid memoir, David Sheff shares his perspective as a father dealing with his son’s drug addiction, as well as his experience mourning the loss of his “beautiful boy” he raised. This memoir, along with his son Nic’s own memoir, Tweak, was recently made into a motion picture.


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

High Achiever by Tiffany Jenkins

Tiffany Jenkins is well known for her video blog, Juggling the Jenkins, in which she uses humor to share about struggles of parenting, dealing with mental illness, and being an addict in recovery. In this book, Tiffany tells the story of how her addiction took over her life and forced her to hit rock bottom before she could rise up to become the successful wife, mother, and professional that she is today.


Mental Illness

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

Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

In his insightful memoir, John Elder Robison reflects on his childhood where he was labeled as a “social deviant” and struggled to connect with others. It was not until he was 40 years old that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome.


Fiction Novels

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

This story follows two different women separated by generations, but connected by a familiar tale. This book first follows Rill Foss who, along with her siblings, is ripped away from her magical life on a riverboat and thrown into the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage. Fast forward to Avery Stafford, whose life of privilege is altered as she takes a journey to learn about her family’s past.

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

RoomAuthor: Emma Donoghue
The story is told from a five-year-old boy's perspective. He has been isolated his whole life, living in a one-room secure building with his mother, who was abducted prior to his birth. When the boy and his mother are rescued, he is very scared and unhappy. Things are foreign to him and he is frightened by the physical distance from his mother.

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

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

Another Place at the Table, Author: Kathy Harrison
With so much awful publicity surrounding foster parenting, Harrison's story of opening her home to foster children, three of whom she later adopted, is tender and inspiring. It is also filled with heartbreaking truths about abused and neglected children and a social service system that is overburdened and occasionally negligent itself.


Child Welfare System & Best Practices

Whose Best Interest? By Rene Hewitt

The author takes readers on a journey through the child welfare system to save two American children from being abused and neglected.


Invisible Kids: Marcus Fiesel's Legacy, Author: Holly Schlaack
Invisible Kids tells the stories of many children and foster families. It tells them straight and backs them up with statistics and facts that show why the system works, why it doesn't, and where it needs help. It describes ProKids Building Blocks, the program Schlaack created for early identification of red flags in the lives infants and toddlers. It also identifies more than a dozen ways that anyone can make a difference.

Turning Stones, Author: Marc Parent
In this outstanding work of social commentary, Parent describes the harrowing conditions he worked under and the brutalization he witnessed during the four years he was employed as a caseworker by New York City's Emergency Children's Services. Parent convincingly argues for public scrutiny of child welfare agencies as well as a societal commitment to protecting children.

Within Our Reach, Author: Lisbeth B. Schorr
In this solidly researched book, the author demonstrates that the knowledge and techniques exist to decrease the incidence of welfare dependency, poor single-parent families and alienated, uneducated youth, and describes 24 programs that have proved successful in changing the lives of seriously disadvantaged children.