Sunday, May 1, 2011

Teens in Foster Care

May is National Foster Care Month. In the U.S. alone, there are approximately 400,000 children currently in the foster care system. Each year, more than 30,000 fostered teens turn 18 and leave the system without a permanent family (Source=National Foster Care Month Home Page). 

Check out these YA and MG novels that celebrate the struggles fostered teens and their families face.
Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me (Julie Johnson) 
Fifteen-year-old Sara Moone, abandoned at birth and shunted from one foster home to another, finds that she cannot remain aloof from her latest family.
Baby (Joseph Monninger)
Fifteen-year-old Baby's last chance at foster care is with the Potters, and while she likes them and enjoys learning to race their sled dogs, she feels she should go back on the streets with her boyfriend if she cannot find the mother who has deserted her again.

Ball Don't Lie (Matt de la Pena)
Seventeen-year-old Sticky lives to play basketball at school and at Lincoln Rec Center in Los Angeles and is headed for the pros, but he is unaware of the many dangers--including his own past--that threaten his dream.
The Boy From the Basement (Susan Shaw)
Charlie, a twelve-year-old boy who has been confined to his basement by his abusive, psychotic father, is accidently locked out after sneaking outside one night, and ends up in the hospital where he gets the attention he needs and a new start in life. 
Compromised (Heidi Ayarbe)
With her con-man father in prison, fifteen-year-old Maya sets out from Reno, Nevada, for Boise, Idaho, hoping to stay out of foster care by finding an aunt she never knew existed, but a fellow runaway complicates all of her scientifically-devised plans.
The Decoding of Lana Morris (Laura McNeal)
For sixteen-year-old Lana life is often difficult, with a flirtatious foster father, an ice queen foster mother, a houseful of special needs children to care for, and bullies harassing her, until the day she ventures into an antique shop and buys a drawing set that may change her life. 
Desperate Measures (Laura Summers)
Thirteen-year-old Vicky, her brain-damaged twin sister, and her delinquent little brother run away together to keep from being split up by the foster care system.
Dream of Night (Heather Henson)
Twelve-year-old Shiloh, a troubled foster child, Dream of Night, an abused former racehorse, and their caretaker Jess, a woman who knows how it feels to have loved and lost, find healing by helping one another through their pain.
The Great Gilly Hopkins (Katherine Paterson)
A classic. An eleven-year-old foster child tries to cope with her longings and fears as she schemes against everyone who tries to be friendly.
The Guardian (Joyce Sweeney)
When thirteen-year-old Hunter, struggling to deal with a harsh, money-grubbing foster mother, three challenging foster sisters, and a school bully, returns to his childhood faith and prays to St. Gabriel, he instantly becomes aware that he does, indeed, have a guardian.
Holding Up the Earth (Dianne Gray)
Fourteen-year-old Hope visits her new foster mother's Nebraska farm and, through old letters, a diary, and stories, gets a vivid picture of the past in the voices of four girls her age who lived there in 1869, 1900, 1936, and 1960.
Hot Girl (Dream Jordan)
Kate, a fourteen-year-old Brooklyn girl and former gang member, risks losing her first good foster family when she adopts the risque ways of her flirtatious new friend, Naleejah.
The Maze (Will Hobbs)
Rick, a fourteen-year-old foster child, escapes from a juvenile detention facility near Las Vegas and travels to Canyonlands National Park in Utah where he meets a bird biologist working on a project to reintroduce condors to the wild.
Peace, Locomotion (Jacqueline Woodson)
Through letters to his little sister, who is living in a different foster home, sixth-grader Lonnie, also known as "Locomotion," keeps a record of their lives while they are apart, describing his own foster family, including his foster brother who returns home after losing a leg in the Iraq War.
Pictures of Hollis Woods (Patricia Reilly Giff)
A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.
The Pinballs (Betsy Byars)
I first read The Pinballs in fifth grade, and it's still a personal favorite! Two boys and a girl must learn to get along in a new foster home.
Returnable Girl (Pamela Lowell)
After being abandoned, thirteen-year-old Ronnie Hartman tries to connect with her new foster parent, but trouble at school and a letter from her mother interfere with her relationship with the woman who wants to adopt her.
Shifty (Lynn E. Hazen)
Fifteen-year-old Soli, nicknamed Shifty, keeps getting into trouble without trying, but as he strives to trust and be trusted, he grows in appreciation of his foster family and works toward putting his past behind him.
Strays (Ronald Koertge)
Sixteen-year-old Ted, orphaned when his parents are killed in a car crash, identifies more with animals than people--especially strays whose situation Ted equates with his own, but as he starts to settle in to his new foster home and school, he forms bonds with his two foster brothers and gradually comes back in touch with the human race.
What I Call Life (Jill Wolfson)
Placed in a group foster home, eleven-year-old Cal Lavender learns how to cope with life from the four other girls who live there and from their storytelling guardian, the Knitting Lady.

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