Tel. 308-203-1120

© 2018 by Plains West CASA. Proudly created with

  • Facebook App Icon
  • Amazon Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter App Icon

Continuing Education

April 17, 2019

Reading List 

A Brother's Journey, by Richard Pelzer

This collection of memoirs tells of the emotions and heartache that a child abuse victim carries throughout those tender and short years from ages 5 to 15.


*A Child Called It, by Dave Pelzer

This book chronicles the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history.


A Child's Journey Through Placement, by Vera Fahlberg

Children who are cared for in an out of home placement are in need of support and stability. This classic text offers information and advice for professionals and carers on how to help these children, who will often have attachment difficulties.

Vera I. Fahlberg, M.D. shares her experience and expertise, outlining the significance of attachment and separation, the developmental stages specific to adoptive children and providing guidance on minimizing the trauma of moves. The book also features practical advice on case planning, managing behavior and direct work with children, and throughout are case studies and exercises which provide opportunities for further learning.


A Life Without Consequences, by Stephen Elliott
His novel traces the fate of Paul, a boy whose mother has died and who runs away from a violent father. The book follows Paul from living on the streets of Chicago to passing through juvenile institutions and a state system that is primarily programmed for failure. There, he meets Tanya and they fall in love but they are young and are separated after a failed attempt to escape the institution. Paul battles through the violent system all the while battling his own rapidly budding adolescence. But as he turns sixteen he starts to come to terms with his own path, not as an adult, but as a scared child and we see that Paul’s emotions that we think of as anger are actually the determination to take control of his future


*A Man Named Dave by Dave Pelzer
Dave’s inspirational attempt at trying to reconcile with his very abusive mother is remarkably open and honest in its presentation.

Abandoned, by Anya Peters

Separated from her real mother at birth, Anya grew up in terror of her drunken bullying uncle. Beaten, humiliated and sexually abused by him from the age of six, she thought her life couldn't get worse. But one day it did.

"I was used to Daddy screaming 'whore's child' at me, over and over again. But I couldn't get used to what he made me do."

Anya was too terrified to tell anybody about what her uncle did to her. But then he got careless and started abusing her in front of the other children. When her brothers started calling her a 'whore', Anya cracked and all her terrible secrets came pouring out


All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, by Michael Patrick MacDonald

A breakaway best seller since its first printing, All Souls takes us deep into Michael Patrick MacDonald's Southie, the proudly insular neighborhood with the highest concentration of white poverty in America. Rocked by Whitey Bulger's crime schemes and busing riots, MacDonald's Southie is populated by sharply hewn characters like his Ma, a mini-skirted, accordion-playing single mother who endures the deaths of four of her eleven children. Nearly suffocated by his grief and his community's code of silence, MacDonald tells his family story here with gritty but moving honesty.


American Meth: A History of the Methamphetamine Epidemic in America, by Sterling R. Brasswell
This is the unprecedented story of the deep, but little known, impact that methamphetamine has had on the American life over the course of the last century.

An Invisible Thread, by Alex Tresniowski
It is the heartwarming story of a friendship that has spanned three decades and brought meaning to an overscheduled professional and hope to a hungry and desperate boy living on the streets.

A Piece of Cake, by Cupcake Brown
Moving and almost transgressive in its frankness, it is a relentlessly gripping tale of a resilient spirit who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with a furious wit and unyielding determination.

Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison
At the heart of this story is a bastard child who observes the world around her with a mercilessly keen perspective. She finds herself caught in a family triangle that tests the loyalty of her mother, Anney-and leads to a final, harrowing encounter from which there can be no turning back.


Beaten Down: Silently Suffered Trauma, by Thomas Hodge​

n Beaten Down, stories of who have been the victims of abusive relationships are heard. Throughout their trials, many suffered silently for years. Some have been chastised for coming forth to seek out help. Many still suffer in silence while no one notices the pain behind their eyes.


Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck
In this remarkable memoir, the author conveys the thoughts and emotions of a young child whose parents both die during the turbulent first six years of her life.

Black and Blue, by Anna Quindlen

For eighteen years, Fran Benedetto kept her secret, hid her bruises, and stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father and because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son's face, Fran finally made a choice--and ran for both their lives.

Breaking Night: A Memoir, by Liz Murray
Breaking Night is the stunning memoir of a young woman who at age fifteen was living on the streets, and who eventually made it into Harvard.


Can't Anyone Help Me?, by Toni Maguire

Can't Anyone Help Me? by Toni Maguire is the inspirational story of struggle and survival against all odds as one young woman attempts to put her torturous past behind her and make a future for herself. 


Charlie's Pond, by CL Heckman


Damaged, by Cathy Glass
Although Jodie is only eight years old, she is violent, aggressive, and has already been through numerous foster families. Over time, Jodie reveals details of her abuse at the hands of her parents and others involved in sickening pedophile ring.

Dani's Story: A Journey from Neglect to Love, by Diane & Bernie Lierow
harting a perilous journey from hardship to hope, a new family, and a second chance at life, Dani's Story is a book you cannot put down and will never forget.

Dry: A Memoir, by Augusten Burroughs
The sequel to "Running With Scissors," chronicles his struggle with alcoholism and with the impending death of his HIV-positive friend Pighead. This memoir is an account of Augusten trying to understand and conquer his demons that have been haunting him his entire life.

Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons

Ellen is an eleven year old “orphan,” who is shuttled from one uncaring relative’s home to another before she finally takes matters into her own hands

Finding Fish, by Antwone Fisher and Mim Rivas
A tumultuous and ultimately gratifying tale of self-discovery written in Fisher's gritty yet melodic literary voice, Finding Fish is an unforgettable reading experience.

Finding Forrester, by James Ellison

The inspiring story of the unlikely friendship between a famous, reclusive novelist and an amazingly gifted teen who secretly yearns to be a writer.

Ghost Girl by Torey Hayden
Ultimately a testament to the powers of caring and commitment, this is the story of a traumatized eight year old that refused to speak, due to sexual abuse and possible exposure to satanic rituals.

Girl Bomb, by Janice Erlbaum
A wry, mesmerizing portrait of being underprivileged, underage, and underdressed in 1980s New York City, Girlbomb provides an unflinching look at street life, survival sex, female friendships, and first loves.

Glass Castles, by Jeanette Walls
A story of triumph against all odds, but also a tender, moving tale of unconditional love in a family that despite its profound flaws gave her the fiery determination to carve out a successful life on her own terms.

Grace, by Richard Paul Evans
Grace is the story of a young runaway girl and the boy who hides her from a frightening world too large and unfathomable for him to comprehend. It is also about two brothers and the love that binds them together through difficult times.

Halfway House, by Katharine Noel
After a seventeen-year-old suffers a breakdown and is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, family dynamics must shift and each character must confront their own demons, in order to emerge on the other side.

High on Arrival, by Mackenzie Phillips
battle with personal demons and near-fatal addictions. She overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles again and again and journeys toward redemption and peace.

Hope's Boy, by Andrew Bridge
Andrew has dedicated his life's work to helping children living in the foster care system. He defied the staggering odds set against him, and here in this heart wrenching, brutally honest, and inspirational memoir, he reveals who Hope's boy really is.


I Speak For This Child, by Gay Courter
Since 1980, novelist Gay Courter has worked on more than a dozen cases of child abuse and neglect as a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem in Florida. While there aren’t many happy endings here, each story is real, inspiring and an excellent introduction into what child advocacy is.

Kindness of Strangers, by Katrina Kittle
A young widow raising two boys, Sarah Laden is struggling to keep her family together. But when a shocking revelation rips apart the family of her closest friend, Sarah finds herself welcoming yet another troubled young boy into her already tumultuous life.

Moonlight Mile, by Dennis Lehane
Amanda McCready was four years old when she vanished from a Boston neighborhood 12 years ago. Kenzie and Gennaro risked everything to find the young girl. Kenzie and Gennaro will be forced to question if it's possible to do the wrong thing and still be right or to do the right thing and still be wrong.

My sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
The emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness.

My sister my love, by Joyce Carol Oates
Likely to be Joyce Carol Oates's most controversial novel to date, as well as her most boldly satirical, this unconventional work of fiction is sure to be recognized as a classic exploration of the tragic interface between private life and the perilous life of "celebrity."

Nobody’s Children: Abuse and Neglect, Foster Drift and The Adoption Alternative, by

Elizabeth Bartholet
Bartholet takes a hard look at how the lives of modern day “orphans” are sacrificed for the often unrealistic goal of keeping troubled families together.

No Matter How Loud I Shout: A Year in the Life of Juvenile Court, by Edward Humes
After being granted access by court, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Humes surveys the largely futile attempts of LA to deal with juvenile crime.

One Kid at a Time, by Jake Dekker
This true, heartwarming story reveals that miracles occur in everyday life. Enjoyable and uplifting, One Kid at a Time will empower--and encourage--everyone who reads it.

Orphans: A True Story Of Abandonment, Abuse and Redemption, by Roger Dean Kiser
This memoir is told from the viewpoint of a child who endured nearly unspeakable horrors in a Florida orphanage and somehow emerged, spirit intact to not only survive, but tell his story with unflinching honesty.

Orphans of the Living: Stories of America’s Children in Foster Care, by Jennifer Toth
For this eye-opening look at how America cares for its abused and neglected children, Toth traveled to fostercare homes, orphanages, and juvenile detention centers to record the poignant, often heroic voices of youngsters trying to survive in an overburdened system.

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs
A disturbing but entertaining memoir about the author’s abandonment by his unbalanced mother, his adoption by a neighborhood pedophile, and layers of despair that the quirky author almost glamorizes to stay sane.

Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood, by Julie Gregory
Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon has written a moving novel about love and bravery through the eyes of a British autistic boy.

The Good Wife, by Stewart O’Nan
A small town housewife, pregnant with her first child, watches her husband go off to jail for murder and robbery gone awry. This is a story of ordinary lives and small graces.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends– view one another.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
A deftly powerful story of finding your way home, even after you’ve burned every bridge behind you.

The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer
This book discusses Pelzer's struggling with his ability to fit in and adapt to the new environment around him as he is put into foster care. It also talks about the kindness of his foster parents and other people around him as well as his inability to brush his mother aside.

The Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle To Change Foster Care, by Nina Bernstein
The author follows the thread of two tragic lives and in the process illuminates the nation’s
dysfunctional social welfare system and the impact on the children it tries to help.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards
A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Memory Keeper's Daughter captures the way life takes unexpected turns and how the mysterious ties that hold a family together help us survive the heartache that occurs when long-buried secrets burst into the open.

The Quality of Life Report, by Meghan Daum
Lucinda relocates to the Midwest to escape the chaos of New York City. What she finds there is a boyfriend of questionable hygiene and judgment, a rambling, isolated farmhouse, and a crazy bunch of locals.

The Price of Privilege: How Parental Pressure and Material Advantage Are Creating a

Generation of Disconnected and Unhappy Kids, by Madeline Levine
Her thoughtful, practical advice provides solutions that will enable parents to help their emotionally troubled "star" child cultivate an authentic sense of self.

The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Tricky Part: One Boy’s Fall From Trespass Into Grace, by Martin Moran
Between the ages of twelve and fifteen, Martin Moran had a sexual relationship with an older man, a counselor he had met at a Catholic boy’s camp near Denver. Almost 30 years later, at the age of forty two, he sets out to find and face his abuser.

Thinking in Pictures, by Temple Grandin
What emerges in Thinking in Pictures is the document of an extraordinary human being, one who, in gracefully and lucidly bridging the gulf between her condition and our own, sheds light on the riddle of our common identity.

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School At A Time, by Greg

Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
This book recounts the journey that led Mortenson from a failed 1993 attempt to climb the world’s second highest mountain, to successfully establish schools in some of the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Three Little Words, by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed - and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

Tweak: Growing up on Meth, by Nic Sheff
Nic Sheff regularly smoked pot, did cocaine and ecstasy, and developed addictions to crystal meth and heroin. In a voice that is raw and honest, Nic spares no detail in telling us the compelling, heartbreaking, and true story of his relapse and the road to recovery.

Wasted: The Plight of America’s Unwanted Children, by Patrick T. Murphy
The author has no illusions about our present welfare and children’s services systems, offering an earthly, inside view of why these systems aren’t working and providing anecdotal proof of the failures.

Wayne: An Abused Child’s Story of Courage, Survival and Hope, by Wayne Theodore
The author, now middle-aged, grew up with eleven siblings, an abusive father and a weak mother. Reading his family’s case files sets the author off on a recovery course that ends with a nationally televised confrontation with his parents.

We Are Annora, by P.S. Marrow
Throughout the pages of this book, struggles of fear and hope, love and hate, confusion, and utter clarity give the reader an "insider" perspective of the challenges faced by traumatized people with DID.

What It Takes To Pull Me Through, by David Marcus
This is a thoughtful expose on what teens are up against in their world and how we, as parents and advocates, can guide them towards more promising paths.

White Oleander, by Janet Fitch
A sensitive, thirteen year old narrator is burdened with an impossible mother. The reader will find the resulting tale of brilliantly characterized (through dysfunctional) foster families difficult to put down.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?, by Beverly Daniel Tatum
Tatum presents strong evidence that straight talk about our racial identities-whatever they may be-is essential if we are serious about facilitating communication across racial and ethnic divides.

Why I Didn't Say Anything, by Sheldon Kennedy
In 1996, Sheldon Kennedy rocked the insular world of Canadian hockey by announcing that his former minor league coach, Graham James - the Hockey News 1989 Man of the Year - had sexually abused him more than 300 times.



Please reload