Thematic Reading List: Living in Foster Care: A Teen’s Journey
Foster care can be a place of safety for some and a place of tragedy for others. This booklist includes stories that look at both sides from a teen’s perspective. Titles are recommended for ages 13 to 18.
Contributed by: Elizabeth Bridges
By: Sherman Alexie
A powerful, fast and timely story of a troubled foster teenager, a boy who is not a “legal” Indian because he was never claimed by his father, who learns the true meaning of terror. About to commit a devastating act, the young man finds himself shot back through time on a shocking sojourn through moments of violence in American history. He resurfaces in the form of an FBI agent during the civil rights era, inhabits the body of an Indian child during the battle at Little Big Horn, and then rides with an Indian tracker in the nineteenth century before materializing as an airline pilot jetting through the skies today. When finally, blessedly, our young warrior comes to rest again in his own contemporary body, he is mightily transformed by all he’s seen.
|Love Me, Love Me Not
By: S. M. Koz
High school senior Hailey has to choose whether to risk her placement with a great family to pursue a relationship with her foster brother.
|Better than the Best Plan
By: Lauren Morrill
Seventeen-year-old Ritzy’s carefully made summer plans are ruined when she is sent to a foster home with a cute boy next door, but when her old life catches up with her, those plans and hopes collide.
By: Laura Burns and Melinda Metz
Sarah Merson, an orphan, mysteriously gains admission to the isolated and elite Sanctuary Bay Academy, but after her roommate disappears, Sarah discovers a dark truth about the school.
|In Between: A Katie Parker Production (Act 1)
By: Jenny B. Jones
Soon after moving to a small Texas town, fifteen-year-old Katie Parker’s rebelliousness complicates her life at home and school, but when she is accused of vandalism, she finds hope through a new friendship, involvement in a play, and her foster family’s faith in God and her.
|Three Little Words
By: Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Traces the author’s painful childhood in a series of foster homes, her deteriorating relationship with her emotionally unstable mother, abuse at the hands of a foster family, and her subsequent efforts to advocate for an improved foster care system.
|Three More Words
By: Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Traces the author’s life after foster care, describing her adventures in college, her relationship with her spouse, and her decision to have both biological and foster children.
By: Gary Schmidt
Jack, 12, tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family as a foster child. Damaged in prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. When Joseph has begun to believe he’ll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.
By: Sasha Dawn
Sixteen-year-old Callie Knowles fights her compulsion to write constantly, even on herself, as she struggles to cope with foster care, her mother’s life in a mental institution, and her belief that she killed her father, a minister, who has been missing for a year.
By: Sarah Tsiang
When Ally’s mom dies, Ally is left with no family, no friends and no future. Put into foster care at the age of fifteen, she has less than $200 to her name and nothing left to lose. When Ally meets Tate, a busking fire breather, she starts to see a new life for herself as a street performer. Ally decides to run away from her foster home, but her problems follow her. Hiding her age, sleeping on the streets and avoiding fights with other buskers, Ally discovers that there’s more to life as a fire-breathing busker than not getting burned.