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Feature Books

The following books have been featured in PresidioNews.  If there are any books you would like to recommend that we feature, please email us.  One of our staff will happily review your suggestions for future recommended reading.  To read a review, select a title below.  To purchase the book, simply click on the book title or the "order now" link.

Book Titles

Dorothy Corkille Briggs

0385040202.01.MZZZZZZZ.gif (11513 bytes)Review by Holly Martinac

This is one of the greatest parenting books I have read.  It provides parents with useful, and realistic information about the challenges of parenting.  As parents we are responsible for providing a nurturing, safe environment for our children to explore and develop a strong sense of self.  With this, there comes the responsibility of looking within ourselves as people.  We can provide the best environment for our children, regardless of our backgrounds, economic status, religion or race.  Parents need help and support in educating themselves as to what we can do for our children.  This is a must read book.  Not once but twice!  And keeping it around as a reference for each new stage that our children enter.!

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Judith A. Silver, PhD., Barbara J. Amster, Ph.D., Trude Haeker, M.D.
Review by Holly Martinac

For those involved in the "front-lines" of foster care, particularly foster parents, there is the on-going commitment to care for a child’s basic needs, health, emotional needs and their physical needs. As professionals, we must actively participate in ensuring that children have the best possible intervention and care that will enable them to become healthy, functioning adults. It is our responsibility to the children in "the system" to work together in continuing to educate ourselves, our community and other professionals on ways to improve "the system".

The focus is always on what is "in the best interest of the child". Unfortunately, there are many "decision-makers" who are not educated enough, or up-to-date on what really is the best interest of the young welfare child of today. In fact, more often than not there is a tendency to not be "on the same page," (or in some cases, even the same book!). Young Children and Foster Care is a definite step in the right direction to get every one on the same page! It is must read for all professionals involved in caring for young children. This well written book takes a collection of materials from a variety of child development specialists and child advocates which then provides an opportunity for other professionals to better meet the needs of children within the child welfare system. The important and expert advice on developmental disabilities, concerns of health and medical care, emotional development and attachment issues, along with advocacy issues, is designed to educate other professionals in the realm of caring for children. It really does take a village to raise a child. We must all work together to ensure their future - - - we must do it for our love of children.

To order this book contact:
Brookes Publishing
P.O. Box 10624
Baltimore, MD 21285
Phone: 1-800-638-3775
FAX: 410-337-8539

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Attachment, Trauma, and Healing: Understanding and Treating Attachment Disorder in Children and Families
by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans

0878687092.01.MZZZZZZZ.gif (14209 bytes)Excerpt from the CWLA Catalog

Attachment is the deep and enduring connection established between a child and care giver in the first several years of life. It profoundly influences every component of the human condition: mind, body, emotions, relationships, and values. Disrupted and anxious attachment not only leads to emotional and social problems, but also results in biochemical consequences in the developing brain. Children lacking secure attachments with care givers commonly grow up to be parents who are incapable of establishing this crucial foundation with their own children.

Attachment, Trauma, and Healing examines the causes of attachment disorders and provides in-depth discussion of effective solutions, including attachment-focused assessment and diagnosis; specialized training and education for care givers; treatment for children and care givers that facilitates secure attachment; and early intervention and prevention programs for high-risk families.


You may also order this book by calling: 1-800-407-6273 or 301-617-7825 during business hours
or mail your order to:
CWLA P.O. Box 2019
Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-2019
Excerpt from the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) Resources Catalog '98/'99.


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A Child Called "It" - One Child's Courage to Survive
by David Pelzer

1558743669.01.MZZZZZZZ.gif (5558 bytes) Review by Jack Canfield, co-author, Chicken Soup for the Soul, reprinted from the National Advocate (with permission).

David Pelzer has presented at several of our foster parent conferences - either NFPA or CSFPA.  You all have heard his story, now here it is available for you to purchase and read for yourself.

A Child Called "it" is the unforgettable account of one of the most sever child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played torturous, unpredictable games-games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mothers games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but and "it".

Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing and no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive - dreams of someone taking care of him, laving him and calling him son.

Through each struggle you'll find yourself enduring his pain, comforting his loneliness and fighting for his will to survive. This compelling story will awaken you to the truth about child abuse- and the ability we all have to make a difference.

A Child Called "it" was so riveting, neither I nor my staff could put it down! Dave Pelzer's story does not focus on his life-threatening plight as much as his unyielding determination that inspires us all. Dave is a living example that all of us have the capability to better ourselves no matter what the odds. One's life is forever changed after living through the eyes of A Child Called "it"


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The Heart Knows Something Different: Teenage Voices from the Foster Care System: Youth Communication

0892552182.01.MZZZZZZZ.gif (9402 bytes)Excerpt from

From Booklist , May 15, 1996
No one knows better what it's like to live on America's fringes than those who live there: this is clearly part of the appeal of the newspapers produced and sold by homeless people in many cities. Youth Communication, a nonprofit group, produces two magazines (New Youth Connections and Foster Care Youth United) to teach New York City teens writing, journalism, and leadership skills. The editors of Heart have gathered nearly 40 young writers' contributions to Foster Care Youth United, as well as letters received from readers in the foster-care system around the country. These vivid, articulate, often painful stories are grouped into four sections: "Family," "Living in the System," "Who Am I?" and "Looking to the Future." A slang glossary, list of resources, and detailed subject guide (from abuse and neglect to writing as therapy) are appended. There's good news as well as bad news here, victories for human decency and resilience as well as portraits of cruelty and indifference in this "On the Inside, Looking Out" mural of one of our nation's least understood social institutions. Mary Carroll  Copyright© 1996, American Library Association. All rights reserved

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By Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith S. Wiley

0871137348.01.MZZZZZZZ.gif (10977 bytes)Review by Holly Martinac

Violence committed by children is in the news on an almost weekly basis. With each incident that occurs, the children seem to be younger and younger, the latest being a six-year-old shooting to death another six-year-old classmate. When the general public is supplied with media reports which fail to look at the real roots of these violent behaviors, our desire for the quick and simple explanations often leads us to scapegoat poverty or race as a means to excuse these heinous crimes.

The authors of Ghosts from the Nursery provide compelling evidence that violent behavior is learned in not only the first two years of life, but is derived from abusive and neglectful environments the first few months of early development. In fact, the authors share significant evidence revealing a predisposition to violent behavior that can be a direct result to exposure of toxins such as drugs and alcohol, combined with a mother’s stress hormones generated from rage or fear, can directly affect brain development of the fetus. What makes this important? The core of an individuals ability to think, feel and relate to others is formed during the first years of life. Exposure to an environment overwhelmed with extreme abuse and neglect can seriously hamper this important development.

I feel the following passage from this book provides a profound affirmation which requires us not only to look at societal implications of violence in the family, but how it reaches families across cultural and classical boundaries:

"Impoverishment in the families producing violent children often exists at a deeper than material level. When looking closely at the families of violent children across classes and racial differences, we find an impoverishment of human connectedness, trust, support and emotional nurturing. People feel angry and alienated – often for several generations. There is a sense of separateness; a chronic irritability; an absence of optimism, joy, and knowing how to laugh; and a need to numb against hopelessness. When children are born into such settings, child abuse and neglect are palpable potentials. . . . The problem isn’t so much that we can’t see these children coming as that we aren’t sure what to do or how much to get involved." (page 271)

I would have to agree with the authors, that in order for the scientific research and multitude of existing and growing programs that support parents and children, to be effective in the battle against violence, we must radically change our views of babies. Babyhood is the formative years when our most complex and fundamental development in learning how we interact with others begins.

This book is well written and easy to follow. It clearly explains research and facts supporting what may be considered controversial theories tracing the roots of violence. It is a must read for anyone and everyone. Especially the politicians, judges, attorneys and those with a hand in determining the fate of children and their families.

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