The following are book recommendations from the Monroe County CASA Staff, intended to further your knowledge and understanding of topics that intersect with the work of a CASA volunteer. These are also great books for interested community members as well!
Demon Copperhead – By Barbara Kingsolver
This co-recipient of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize, and the winner of the 2023 Women’s Prize for Fiction, is a coming-of-age story following the life of a boy born into institutional poverty, navigating the foster care system, love, loss, child labor, and school, with a determination for survival, set in the mountains of southern Appalachia.
“The foster home situation in this book was horrible and it reminded me of the importance of a CASA being on the case and asking the right questions. By the end of the book, understanding, as we work with children, and their varied cultural backgrounds; we must work hard to live in their world and understand their world, so we are making recommendations that are best for them, not based on our own life experiences.” – Anne Veldman, Case Coordinator
The Neglected Transition: Building a Relational Home for Children Entering Foster Care – By Monique B. Mitchell
Monique B. Mitchell utilizes the compelling stories of children entering the foster care system to display the story of loss, ambiguity, fear, and hope that children go through as they transition into the system. Mitchell mixes child-centered research and healing suggestions with real-life stories to display the harm done to children when their needs are neglected in the foster care system.
“It’s the first book that I’ve read that is a real reflection on making sure the transition into foster care is really thought about.” – Beth Krouse, Case Coordinator
What Happened to You: Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing – By Oprah Winfrey & Bruce D. Perry
Written in the form of a deeply personal conversation between Oprah Winfrey and brain and trauma expert Bruce D. Perry, the two offer a new perspective, shifting the question of “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”. Winfrey shares stories of her past, understanding first-hand the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma at a young age, while Perry explains the chemical process behind trauma. Together, the two help the reader better understand people, behavior, and themselves, in a profound shift in the approach to trauma.
“This book was my first exposure to how trauma affects behavior and the mind. Oprah offers very impactful stories from her own experiences, while Dr. Perry does a great job at explaining the chemical processes behind this trauma, and the book gives great insight into how adverse childhood experiences affect people, in a way that anyone ages 17+ can understand”. – Skyler Neuhaus, Intern
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – By Maya Angelou
One of the most widely read and talked about books by an African American woman, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” is the first autobiography by Maya Angelou chronicling her life from ages 3 to 16, recounting unsettling and traumatic moments from her childhood. This coming-of-age story demonstrates the power of resilience, strength, and a love for literature while experiencing trauma.
“How an amazing powerful woman grew up and succeeded in spite of her horrific childhood.” – Kristin Bishay, CASA Executive Director
Evicted – By Matthew Desmond
The 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner for general nonfiction, “Evicted,” follows eight families living in poverty in Milwaukee during the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Desmond offers a deeper understanding of economic exploitation and poverty while making new suggestions on how to solve one of the most devastating problems of 21st-century America.
The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture – By Gabor Maté & Daniel Maté
Doctor Gabor Maté, with over 40 years of clinical experience, writes this book with his son, Daniel Maté, analyzing mental illness and well-being in the Western culture, and the toxic stereotype of normal in modern-day culture. This book emphasizes the importance that needs to be placed on the emotional balance of each individual in the healthcare setting and the importance of understanding what is really “normal” in the healthcare field.
“This book is written by celebrated author, Dr. Maté in collaboration with his son, Daniel, and it explores the needs of children, the roles of parents, and how culture may or may not influence those relationships. It’s a compelling book, the author, Mate, is a contemporary thought leader on trauma, healing, addictions, and harm reduction. This is a look at parents and children and the struggles they face in contemporary Western culture.” – Lara Weaver, Case Coordinator
Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family – By Amy Ellis Nutt
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Amy Ellis Nutt tells the story of an American family who adopted twin boys. The family would have their beliefs on gender and identity challenged when one of their twin boys began their transition to female. Amy Ellis Nutt spent almost four years journaling the story of this American family, and, through personal diaries, home videos, clinical journals, legal documents, medical records, and the families themselves, Nutt tells the story of the transformation of an American family that could have torn them apart, but ultimately brings them together stronger than ever.
“This book gave me a better understanding of the family process, working through the gender transitioning of a child. It helped me understand the family’s perspective of a gender transition.” – Kristin Bishay, CASA Executive Director
The Glass Castle – By Jeanette Walls
Jeanette Walls’ The Glass Castle tells a story of childhood resilience when faced with a loving and abusive family. This coming-of-age memoir follows a family with children who prosper and learn to survive despite the abuse and neglect suffered by their parents, and their parents who choose to follow their children and love them despite their mistakes and failures as parents.
“A story of resiliency, this is a story about childhood ignorance to societal norms” – Kristin Bishay, CASA Executive Director
If you’d like to help change a child’s story, click HERE.
All book descriptions were created utilizing information from https://www.goodreads.com/ and https://www.amazon.com/books-used-books-textbooks/b?ie=UTF8&node=283155
Written by: Skyler Neuhaus