This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Books and Methods Review - Adoption/ Foster Care Books for Children

Adoption/ Foster Care Children’s Books

This is by no means a comprehensive list.  Just some books that were recommended.  In no particular order. There is another post about Children's books used in the FAIR Club here.

Children's Adoption Books by Age  - Great lists of children's books with mostly Adoption themes categorized by age and/or grade.

Books that Heal Kids - reviews books on a wide variety of subjects.

The Grump on the Stump by Jenny Dew
 A grumpy girl overcomes her own behaviors and sees herself for who she is, a wonderful young girl.
Written as a short children's book but the characters in the story are teenagers. Both younger children and teenagers will relate to it.
Jenny Dew is an author with a wealth of experience in raising children, both her biological children and adopted children (with RAD), and has a lifetime of working through difficult situations and emotional concerns.  Her books are captivating in that they express life issues that touch each of us in special ways and open the doors to healing and developing an approach to life that allows parents and children to understand one another as they experience a fun and entertaining story.  She has been a beacon of support to the parents (specifically mothers) she has come in contact.

Emma's Yucky Brother (I Can Read Book 3) by Jean Little
Emma has always wanted a little brother. Now her family is adopting Max, and Emma is sure he will be the best brother ever. But Max has his own ideas. He thinks sisters are yucky, and that Emma is the yuckiest! Is this really what having a brother is all about?
In Jean Little's warmhearted, perceptive story about adoption, Emma learns that there is more to having a little brother than she had ever guessed -- and that in order to get the brother she wants, she must first learn to be the sister he needs.

Even If I Did Something Awful? by Barbara Shook Hazen
Oh, oh! When a football breaks a favorite vase, a little girl wonders if her mommy will still love her.
"Would you love me even if I did something awful?"
"What kind of awful?"
"If I got orange crayon on the carpet? If I pulled down the dining room curtains? If I told a great big whopper?..."
But what about the "real" calamity? In a reassuring ending, Mommy proves she will always love her little girl, no matter what happens.

The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself by Ali Redford
Boy built a wall to keep himself safe. Behind it, he felt strong and more protected. Then Someone Kind came along. She bounced a ball, sang and painted on the other side of the wall, and Boy began to wonder if life on the other side might be better after all.

Written for children aged 4 to 9, this gentle full-colour picture book uses a simple metaphor to explain how children who have had painful or traumatic experiences can build barriers between themselves and other people. It will help children explore their feelings and encourage communication.

Sarah Naish and Rosie Jeffries Series

Charley Chatty and the Wiggly Worry Worm: A story about insecurity and attention-seeking (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Charley Chatty and the Disappearing Pennies: A story about lying and stealing (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Rosie Rudey and the Very Annoying Parent: A story about a prickly child who is scared of getting close (Therapeutic Parenting Books) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
William Wobbly and the Very Bad Day: A story about when feelings become too big (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
William Wobbly and the Mysterious Holey Jumper: A story about fear and coping (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Sophie Spikey Has a Very Big Problem: A story about refusing help and needing to be in control (A Therapeutic Parenting Book) by Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies
Teddy Tappy and the Tangley Memory Monster: A story to help children who have difficult memories 
Ellie Jelly and the Massive Mum Meltdown: A Story About When Parents Lose Their Temper and Want to Put Things Right
Katie Careful and the Very Sad Smile: A story about anxious and clingy behaviour
Callum Kindly and the Very Weird Child: A story about sharing your home with a new child 
Rosie Rudey and the Enormous Chocolate Mountain: A story about hunger, overeating and using food for comfort
This set of books all deal with common emotional and behavioural difficulties of adopted and fostered children. Difficulties are introduced through characters who behave in ways that children can identify with. The text is simple, humorous and with illustrations that grab the reader's attention. The books could be used in many ways but I would see them as a springboard for adults (adoptive parents, social workers or carers) to begin to talk to children about feelings and behaviours. Read aloud, the stories may enable children to recognise that they are not alone and that other children also struggle. It is often difficult for parents or carers to know where to start in talking about these issues. This set of books provides a way of doing this without blaming the child. These books should be available in every adoption agency for use by social workers or to be lent to parents. (Professor Julie Selwyn CBE, Director of the Hadley Centre for Adoption and Foster Care Studies, University of Bristol)

[These therapeutic parenting books] are the most valuable books on my bookshelf. In my 11 years of fostering, I have read many books, but these are different. They are people friendly but real - they are written by someone that has been through looking after traumatized children and who better to offer help, theories and guidance. Sarah has written her books simply which means the traumatized children respond to the characters and can express themselves through the books. I will be offering my copies to everyone that comes into my home to read...well done Sarah Naish and all involved... (Foster Carer)

Excellent books! I have recommended them to every foster carer/adopter/professional I know! Our kids love them, and enjoy the fact that Sarah and Rosie 'get it'. 5 out of 5 stars. (JS Bradley, Adopter)

Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights (Kids Are Important Series) by Julie Nelson
All families change over time. Sometimes a baby is born, or a grown-up gets married. And sometimes a child gets a new foster parent or a new adopted mom or dad. Children need to know that when this happens, it’s not their fault. They need to understand that they can remember and value their birth family and love their new family, too. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing change. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers.

Forever Child Series by B. Bryan Post and Nancy A. Clark

The Forever Child: A Tale of Lies and Love
The Forever Child: A Tale of Anger and Fear
The Forever Child: A Tale of Loss and Impossible Dreams
Family Secrets:  A Tale of Silence and Shame

The Forever Child is a series of fairy tales that are designed for use by parents and therapists as a tool to assist children in dealing with early abuse and neglect. Unlike other fairy tales, this series of books illustrates a number of the behaviors that are often seen in children with a history of early trauma, the parent guides provide an analysis of the root causes of these behaviors as well as step-by-step assistance for the parent.

All parents need stories they can share with their children to help generate interest in their backgrounds. Traditionally, foster and adoptive parents have had few choices in children’s tales that are specifically geared towards their child’s early life before adoption. The Forever Child series can meet this need for many families.

It is especially helpful to have the tales read aloud to the child and it is important for parents to read the tale first to determine if it is appropriate for a particular child and situation. Adults who have already shared the tales with their children have reported that they have served as a springboard for many meaningful discussions about birth families and birth history.

Nancy A. Clark, MFT is a retired therapist in the State of California and a seasoned fairy tale writer. She has worked with children suffering from traumatic backgrounds for over 20 years. She was employed as a therapist by one of the largest inner-city school districts in Southern California. Ms. Clark, a foster parent, has four grown daughters and has adopted a daughter with an early exposure to trauma.
B. Bryan Post is an internationally recognized expert in the treatment of adopted children who have experienced trauma and neglect. An adopted child himself he knows firsthand the driving emotions behind the troubling behaviors demonstrated by some adopted children.

Marythemom:  I purchased the first three books.  They are beautifully illustrated paperbacks, but they were a little too specific in some uncomfortable areas and not applicable in others.  I felt these would confuse my kids who are very concrete in their thinking.  I did, however, have my biodaughter read them to gain some insight and empathy into what the adopted children have been through, and I really liked them for that.  We will not be purchasing the 4th book which is recommended for “MATURE adolescents, teens, and adults.”

Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Jennifer Wilgocki and Marcia Kahn Wright
Will I live with my parents again? Will I stay with my foster parents forever? For children in foster care, the answer to many questions is often "maybe." Maybe Days addresses the questions, feelings, and concerns these children most often face. Honest and reassuring, it also provides basic information that children want and need to know, including the roles of various people in the foster care system and whom to ask for help. An extensive afterword for adults caring for foster children describes the child's experience, underscores the importance of open communication, and outlines a variety of ways to help children adjust to the "maybe days"- and to thrive.

Murphy's Three Homes: A Story for Children in Foster Care by Jan Levinson Gilman
Murphy, a Tibetan Terrier puppy is told he is a 'good luck dog' he is cheerful, happy, and loves to play and wag his tail. However, after going through two different homes and an animal shelter, Murphy starts to feel like a 'bad luck dog' who nobody wants. Murphy's Three Homes follows this adorable pup through his placement in three new homes, as well as through his anxiety, self-doubt, and hope for a new, loving family. Finally, Murphy is placed in a caring foster home where he feels comfortable and valued. He learns that he is not a bad dog after all and can go back to being a playful puppy and a 'good luck dog'!

The Star: A Story to Help Young Children Understand Foster Care by Cynthia Miller Lovell
THE STAR: A STORY TO HELP YOUNG CHILDREN UNDERSTAND FOSTER CARE is an easy-to-read, short story with beautiful, watercolor illustrations. The book follows a fictional young girl, Kit, who is taken from her mother to the safety, and different world, of a foster home. On Kit's first night in foster care, she becomes friends with a star outside her bedroom window. The star tells Kit about other foster children it has seen. Through the story, the star is a source of comfort for Kit as she experiences many emotions and adjusts to all the new things in her foster home. To get the most out of this book, the author recommends also reading QUESTIONS & ACTIVITIES FOR THE STAR: A HANDBOOK FOR FOSTER PARENTS.

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes and Sasha J. Mudlaff
Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first, he tried to forget about it, but soon something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous for no reason. Sometimes his stomach hurt. He had bad dreams. And he started to feel angry and do mean things, which got him in trouble. Then he met Ms. Maple, who helped him talk about the terrible thing that he had tried to forget. Now Sherman is feeling much better. This gently told and tenderly illustrated story is for children who have witnessed any kind of violent or traumatic episode, including physical abuse, school or gang violence, accidents, homicide, suicide, and natural disasters such as floods or fire. An afterword by Sash a J. Mudlaff written for parents and other caregivers offers extensive suggestions for helping traumatized children, including a list of other sources that focus on specific events.

Everybody has Something by Margie Domnick
"Why me?" We've all heard the question, now here's the answer! Everybody Has Something clearly illustrates to children that we are all different from each other. It features real kids with real issues spanning from cavities to cancer. It's about diversity and acceptance, from a child's perspective.

Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers
How do you get to know someone in a wheelchair? Sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. In his characteristically wise and gentle way, Mister Rogers challenges the stereotypes that often plague children with special needs and celebrates six children who are extraordinary friends.

Courage to Tell by Tammy Sutton
A non-faith based story. Daniel's life was forever changed after meeting Elizabeth and Grace.  The three of them are on a mission to make a difference. Delivering a vital message to children to know their value, worth, and purpose.  A message that equips Bo so he can get the help he needs. This book will educate children against the evils of sexual abuse.  Children will be empowered to be courageous crusaders looking out for the safety of others and help Daniel, Elizabeth, Grace, and Bo spread this important message.

Daughter of the King by Tammy Sutton
A faith-based story.  It is a story of love and acceptance. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Grace teach important lessons of never keeping secrets, help children identify "unsafe" touch, and exposes lies children may be told to keep secrets. It empowers them to have the courage to tell. Children will be free to know it's Never their fault.

Porcupette Finds a Family by Vanita Oelschlager and Mike Blanc
This is a delightful book for small children that is filled with superb illustrations, a heartwarming story with a great message but suffers a little from being so overt and heavy-handed in that message. A tale of a baby porcupine whose loving mother abruptly leaves one day, and finds herself adopted into a bear family by a bear mother and two cubs, this story clearly has an important message for foster and adoptive kids.

The baby porcupine (Porcupette) struggles at times to fit into her new family - although she's accepted by the bears, she often reverts to her prickly nature, fearful of being abandoned again, left unloved and alone. She lashes out at her new family, and questions their love and acceptance.

Clearly, these are important issues that children in blended families may struggle with, and seeing them portrayed in this lovely illustrated tale about animals that can be both prickly and cute may be a good way of addressing them.

However, I was left with the feeling that the author could have done a little more to balance the story and the message. The prose is very direct and on-the-nose, almost soap-box. It is a great idea, well-illustrated, and with plenty of heart and purpose.

A Safe Place for Caleb: An Interactive Book for Kids, Teens and Adults with Issues of Attachment, Grief, Loss or Early Trauma by Paul J. Chara and Kathleen A. Chara
A Safe Place for Caleb is a comprehensive and richly illustrated resource for individuals of all ages who are dealing with attachment problems. Parents, professionals, and laypeople will find this book helpful in understanding and addressing attachment disorders in children, adolescents, and adults.

The first half of the book is an interactive story that follows the experiences of Caleb, a young boy who relates his difficulties and frustrations in forming and sustaining healthy relationships. He learns strategies for coping with attachment issues during his journey to the Safe Tree House, where he is introduced to the four "attachment healing keys". These act as therapeutic tools to unlock difficulties with attachment, and are presented using text and illustrations that are easily accessible for readers of all ages, even for young children.

The second half of the book presents a summary of current scientific thought on attachment styles and disorders, and provides a wide array of assessment tools, photocopiable material and healing techniques to address attachment difficulties. Lists of helpful organizations and relevant reading materials are also presented.

Based on established psychological principles, the book is a unique and imaginative guide for professionals, parents, caregivers, and people of all ages who are dealing with attachment issues.

Not adoption / foster care books, but supposed to be very good:
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex Harris and Brett Harris - Foreward by Chuck Norris
A generation stands on the brink of a "rebelution." A growing movement of young people is rebelling against the low expectations of today's culture by choosing to "do hard things" for the glory of God.  And Alex and Brett Harris are leading the charge.
Do Hard Things is the Harris twins' revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential.
Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life.  Then they map out five powerful ways teens can respond for personal and social change.

Angry Octopus: An Anger Management Story introducing active progressive muscular relaxation and deep breathing by Lori Lite

Angry Octopus is a story that teaches children how to use progressive muscle relaxation and breathing techniques to calm down, lower stress, and control anger. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows the octopus how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. 
Children learn to unwind, relax, and control anger with this fun exercise known as progressive muscle relaxation. Children relate to the angry octopus in this story as the sea child shows him how to take a deep breath, calm down, and manage his anger. These effective stress and anger management techniques for children focus awareness on various muscle groups to create a complete resting of the mind and body. Progressive muscle relaxation can be used to lower stress, decrease pain, and manage anger. 
This engaging story quiets the mind and relaxes the body so your child can let go of anger, relax, and fall asleep peacefully. This story is longer making it ideal for older children or those with a longer attention span. 
Note to Parent: Angry Octopus is a kid favorite. Parents report that their children use the techniques in the story to calm themselves and also remind their parents to use the same technique. This story received national attention on ABC’s Shark Tank. Every child has a different emotional maturity, attention span, and need. While the stories are best suited for ages 6-12, do not let this be your primary reason for selecting. You know your child best and remember this is not about the reading level. The focus is on the actual techniques.

Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens: Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills for Helping You Manage Mood Swings, Control Angry Outbursts, and get along with Others (Instant Help Book for Teens) by Sheri Van Dijk MSW
Let's face it: life gives you plenty of reasons to get angry, sad, scared, and frustrated-and those feelings are okay. But sometimes it can feel like your emotions are taking over, spinning out of control with a mind of their own. To make matters worse, these overwhelming emotions might be interfering with school, causing trouble in your relationships, and preventing you from living a happier life.
Don't Let Your Emotions Run Your Life for Teens is a workbook that can help. In this book, you'll find new ways of managing your feelings so that you'll be ready to handle anything life sends your way. Based in dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), a type of therapy designed to help people who have a hard time handling their intense emotions, this workbook helps you learn the skills you need to ride the ups and downs of life with grace and confidence.

This book offers easy techniques to help you:
  • Stay calm and mindful in difficult situations
  • Effectively manage out-of-control emotions
  • Reduce the pain of intense emotions
  • Get along with family and friends

The "Putting on the Brakes" Activity Book for Young People With ADHD by Quin, Patricia O. Quinn, Neil Russell

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 
A National Book Award Finalist!

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what's going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.

Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

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