The 20 most recommended books foster carers and young people should read
Here are a list of books that are recommended by our staff for foster carers, children and young people. These books provide advice and guidance of how to handle certain situations and give a realistic insight into what fostering is like for carers and children.
Books for Carers
Why Can’t My Child Behave? Empathic Parenting Strategies that Work for Adoptive and Foster Families by Dr Amber Elliott
This is a very useful tool in understanding the concept of Therapeutic parenting, and why children may not be responding to particular behaviour management strategies.
In our Dartford office the social workers refer to this book often when foster carers are encountering difficulties with their children’s’ behaviour. It focuses on a therapeutic way of parenting children, and understanding how their past experiences have impacted on their behaviour, and strategies of how to support them.
The Foster Parenting Toolbox: A practical, hands-on approach to parenting children in Foster Care by Kim Phagan-Hansel
Each child will be unique and require a different set of tools in your toolbox. Over 100 foster parents in the trenches, case workers, social workers, and judges contributed to this book to help all those on the child’s team understand and work better with the children who are entrusted to their care. Covering topics from new-borns to teens and everything in between, this book will help not only foster parents, but be beneficial to those who work with foster parents: case workers, social workers, judges, and others.
The Simple Guide to Child Trauma (Simple Guides) by Betsy de Thierry
This book is really helpful as a starting point, particularly for brand new carers, on understanding how to support a child who has experienced trauma. It gives helpful advice around understanding how a child’s trauma has affected their behaviour with a therapeutic parenting type approach.
Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph
Below is what one of our foster carers Maggie, a single carer and parent of girls who is raising boys wrote: “As a mother of two grown up daughters, a grandmother to 5 girls and a very young grandson, I had hardly any knowledge of bringing up boys. When I got my first placement of two young male siblings one 2 years and his brother of 5 years I was struggling a little so I was leant a book by a member of staff in Capstone called Raising Boys.
It is a light hearted, easy to read book about raising boys and the different stages they go through, how their brains develop slowly and how their nervous system is wired up in a different sequence. It goes on to say at 4 years old, boys can be too young to start school and how they often resent school as it is to formal and involves too much sitting still. The book goes on through the stages and helps you understand your boys and what makes them unique, how to love them better and make sure they turn out to be well balanced young men. It is well worth a read!”
Nobody’s Child by Kate Adie
This is a truly compelling read for carers who themselves were adopted, may have a child whom they are to adopt or will prepare to be adopted. It is a good book about identity and life story and also useful for carers who may care for a child with little or no information about themselves. It serves to remind carers that even if they have no information about a child, always remember that a child will become an adult one day and will want to know about their history and journey.
Why Love matters – how affection shapes a baby’s brain by Sue Gerhardt
This is a really riveting read for all carers, regardless of caring for babies or older children as it enables you to understand how a mother’s selfcare and experiences during pregnancy impacts on the unborn child’s brain development and emotional regulation. Chapter 3 looks at the impact of stress on babies and children, including separation from their parents and carers. In addition, Chapter 9 – ‘Repairing the damage’ is a very useful section too, it gives an insight into how the work you can do as a carer and the interventions that are offered to children may/may not repair the damage suffered in their early months and years. However, there is a clear reminder that making a child feel loved and valued will go a very long way in their adulthood.
A Child’s Journey Through Placement UK Edition Vera Fahlberg MD BAAF Adoption and Fostering
This book is an excellent reference book and good read. It covers everything from attachment, bonding, child development, separation and loss, minimising the trauma of moves, behaviour problems and life story work. Carers would find the range of subject areas very helpful in gleaning information to aid their understanding and offers help to them caring for children in the care system.
There are very practical messages such as ‘the foster carers role when a child leaves your home’ for instance that illustrates behaviour of the child and what you can do in that process through case study type approach. You do not have to read this book from beginning to end, as the various sections are useful to you throughout your fostering carer. I would recommend that you read this book if you are thinking of fostering, is someone who is very early into your fostering carer, or if you need to develop your understanding on a range of key topics within fostering. The book provides a great link between case studies, theories and practical approaches in caring for children who are in foster care or who may move to prospective adopters.
Fifty-One Moves by Ben Ashcroft
This book by Ben Ashcroft is a heart rending account of abandonment, loneliness and rejection in his family life. Ben entered the care system aged 9 and faced such challenges as crime, drugs, absconding and being in custody. 10 years on he now motivates young people from similar backgrounds to believe that they can turn their lives around in the same manner that Ben has accomplished. This really is a good read and a fantastic insight into the life of a young person in care.
Therapeutic Adventures with Autistic Children by Jonas Torrance
Uplifting tales that show the positive and powerful impact creative therapy can have for children with autism. A great read for anyone who parents or supports another person’s social and emotional development. Each chapter in this heartening book is the story of a child with autism and how therapy was pivotal in confronting his or her individual dilemma.
Just Another Kid: Each was a child no one could reach – until one amazing teacher embraced them all by Torey Hayden
A beautiful illustration of nurturing concern, not only for a few emotionally disturbed children, but for one woman facing a personal battle.
How to Look After Yourself by Adams Media
A little book of self-care: 200 ways to refresh, restore and rejuvenate. This book features 100 accessible activities that help you reconnect with your body, mind, spirit, and surroundings, and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to face the world again.
Books for Children and Young People
The Colour of Us by Karen Katz
This is a child’s picture story book about diversity and the subject matter is very much in the title ‘our different skin colours’. It is a book that carers who care cross culturally in particular can read to a child, or maybe a child aged from 7 or 8 years old could read aloud with a carer. The book is written as if the story is been told by a girl, aged 7 named Lena and it describes skin colour in everyday food related and positive language that children should be aware of in their everyday surrounding.
Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care
Straightforward look at the issues of foster care, the questions that children ask, and the feelings that they confront.
Dennis and the Big Decisions
Explains to young children who are living in foster care about why they have moved from their family, why they may have future moves, and who will make these decisions
Little Meerkats Big Panic by Jane Evans
A story about learning new ways to feel calm
A Sky of Diamonds by Camille Gibbs
A story for children about loss, grief and hope
Striker, Slow Down by Emma Hughes
This charmingly-illustrated picture book for ages 3-6 aims to teach busy children about the benefits of taking time to sit quietly and clear their mind. Touching on the principles of mindfulness, it provides the perfect introduction to the differing feelings of chaos and calm and encourages children to find balance in their increasingly busy lives.
Who are You? By Brook Pessin-Whedbee
This brightly illustrated children’s book provides a straightforward introduction to gender for anyone aged 5+. It presents clear and direct language for understanding and talking about how we experience gender: our bodies, our expression and our identity.
Carlos the Chameleon: A Story to Help Empower Children to Be Themselves by Alice Reeves
Part of the Truth & Tails series, which aims to eliminate prejudices and encourage acceptance in young children aged 4-8.
All you need is love by Shanni Collins
Celebrating families of all shapes and sizes. The stories cover all types of modern (and post-modern) families and the ways in which our glorious LGBT community has given itself wholeheartedly to raising healthy, well-adjusted and diverse families. Recommended for younger readers and for anyone with children.