Making Children A National Priority: A Framework for Community Action, by Linda Morgan and Teri Martin, provides youth workers with a helpful guide for achieving results in community action. After establishing the need to make children a priority in this effort, the authors present resources and advice on what they call the “Six-I” model: initiating, invigorating, inquiring, imagining, innovating and implementing. Full of valuable websites and contact information, this is a solid resource for any prospective community organizer. 93 pages. $14.95. Child Welfare League of America, 440 First St. NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC 20001. (202) 638-2952, www.cwla.org.
Stand and Deliver: Political Activism, Leadership, and Hip Hop Culture, by Yvonne Bynoe, is a highly opinionated but well-sourced critique of hip-hop’s failure, in the author’s view, to achieve effective political influence. Bynoe sees the hip-hop culture as having all bark and little or no bite, a potentially powerful mechanism with no leadership structure. A provocative read on a phenomenon that Bynoe suggests has prematurely been crowned as central to the next civil rights movement. 207 pages. $13.95. Soft Skull Press, 71 Bond St., New York, NY 11217. (718) 643-1599, www.softskull.com.
The What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Boys, by Lynda Madaras, covers puberty and the anatomical changes that males undergo during adolescence. Written in a reassuring tone, the author explains the physical and mental changes and challenges that both males and females experience, such as anatomical novelties and the desire to date. A thorough and informative work that answers all those questions many boys are afraid to ask. 238 pages. $12.95. New Market Press, 18 E. 48th St., New York, NY 10017. (212) 832-3575, www.newmarketpress.com.
Making Play Work: The Promise of After-School Programs for Low-Income Children, by Robert Halpern, portrays after-school programming in the United States as a long-growing movement on the verge of reaching its potential in poor communities. The author, a child development expert, guides readers through after-school history, from 19th century boys clubs to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers. After profiling the structure and procedures of several modern after-school programs, Halpern concludes with a vision of what should be done to foster the continued growth and expansion of after-school programming. 192 pages. $24.95. Teachers College Press, P.O. Box 20, Williston, VT 05495. (800) 575-6566, www.tcpress.com.
Ice Palace, by Deborah Blumenthal and Ted Rand, is a touching story about the century-old winter carnival in the village of Saranac Lake, N.Y., narrated by a young girl from the village. Readers discover that the crowning achievement of the carnival week, the mammoth ice palace, is built by members of a minimum security prison – one of whom is the narrator’s uncle. “Ice Palace” is a poetic and beautifully illustrated story that will help youth understand the concept of rehabilitation, while instilling in them a sense of humanity toward a population that is largely detached from society. 32 pages. $16. Clarion Books, 215 S. Park Ave., New York, NY 10003. (212) 420-5846, www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.
“Is This English?” Race, Language, and Culture in the Classroom, by Bob Fecho, details the author’s “critical inquiry” approach to working with youth from various nationalities and ethnicities. The former Philadelphia-area teacher’s method entails extensive one-on-one engagement with students in classrooms, which he says improves the work of students, whom he views as trapped in an apathetic educational culture. An interesting read for youth workers seeking to get more from youth in an educational setting. 171 pages. $21.95. Teachers College Press, P.O. Box 20, Williston, VT 05495. (800) 575-6566, www.tcpress.com.
Joyful Learning, by Gail Small, uses the experiences of a veteran teacher to show how to excite youth about learning through creative activities and a dynamic atmosphere. The author writes about using games to motivate students, getting kids to constructively use free time, using news and events like the Olympics to teach math or lessons about competition, and making tests less stressful. For some, the book may feel a bit saccharine: The author is a motivational speaker who loves exclamation points and publishing letters from former students saying how wonderful she was! ScarecrowEducation, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706. (301) 459-3366, www.scarecroweducation.com.
Grounded in the Word, by Eugene Williams Sr. and Eugene Williams Jr., is an excellent reference for youth workers who want to help youth better understand the Bible. For each section of the Bible, passages with tricky or antiquated words are broken down and explained with definitions, speech variations and modern sample sentences for context. 336 pages. $15.95. American Family Association, P.O. Drawer 2440, Tupelo, MS 38803. (662) 844-5036, www.agapepress.org.
The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, by David Brotherton and Luis Barros, examines the non-criminal, social aspects of street organizations using the lens of New York’s highest-profile gang, the Latin Kings. The book begins with a small survey of gang members, giving readers an idea of the members’ background and social history. While a skeptic might say the authors are ignoring the obvious sins of a group long linked to murder and drug trafficking, the well-researched book seems to focus intentionally on the social and structural aspects of the gang, because understanding those is key to understanding gang membership and steering youth out of it. 464 pages. $24.50. Columbia University Press, 61 W. 62nd St., New York, NY 10023. (212) 459-0600, www.columbia.edu/cu/cup.
Life Skills: 225 Ready-to-Use Health Activities for Success and Well-Being, by Sandra McTavish, seeks to get youth thinking and talking about a wide range of issues, such as sex, stress, friendship, food and drugs. The 225 one-page worksheets, designed to be photocopied and passed out, ask kids to fill in blanks, compose short answers and quiz each other about matters such as the nicknames for marijuana, why relationships end and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The book is marketed for grades 6 through 12, but high schoolers would probably find much of it old hat and rather square. Many of the exercises sound like health class, but some are quite thought-provoking. 262 pages. $29.95. Jossey-Bass, 989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 433-1740, www.josseybass.com.
The Power of Relaxation, by Patrice Thomas, explains the value of Tai Chi for children and provides instructions for practicing it. Thomas provides basic background on the effects of stress on children and on how the techniques of Tai Chi and visualization help to alleviate stress. After making the case for Tai Chi, Thomas uses simple explanations and illustrations to display a number of Tai Chi exercises. An excellent resource that can give youth an inexpensive and holistic approach to stress relief. 128 pages. $15.95. Redleaf Press, 450 N. Syndicate, Suite 5, St. Paul, MN 55104. (800) 423-8309, www.redleafpress.org.
Gay Men Choosing Parenthood, by Gerald Mallon, is a guide for homosexual men who are considering becoming foster or adoptive parents. Mallon says that although the minimal research done on gay dads indicates they are as successful as other parents at creating safe and healthy households for children, they face unique challenges. Among them: community response and interaction with households headed by gays, the foster-care system’s approach to gay parents, and dealing with children still grieving over the loss of their birth families. An affirming book for gay fathers or fathers-to-be, written with an excellent balance between anecdote and clear, simplified research. 176 pages. $21.95. Columbia University Press, 61 W. 62nd St., New York, NY 10023. (212) 459-0600, www.columbia.edu/cu/cup.
They Broke the Law – You Be the Judge: True Cases of Teen Crime, by Thomas Jacobs, covers actual juvenile justice cases that were heard by the author, a judge in Maricopa County, Ariz. Jacobs first reviews basics of the juvenile justice system, then presents case details with a “what would you do?” approach. Jacobs offers a creative way to explore the often painful decisions made in juvenile court, especially when trying to determine which youths are most likely to turn their lives around. 213 pages. $15.95. Free Spirit Publishing, 217 Fifth Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55401. (800) 735-7323, www.freespirit.com.
Day Care Deception, by Brian Robertson, argues that the multimillion-dollar child care industry has lulled American parents into accepting a minimalist role in their children’s upbringing. The necessity of day care for poor working mothers is sold to the public by politicians bought and paid for by interest groups, Robertson says, while the bulk of child tax credits and child care subsidies do little to help the poorest families. An interesting take on parent involvement, which concludes with recommendations on how parents can “take back parenting.” 280 pages. $25.95. Encounter Books, 665 Third St., Suite 330, San Francisco, CA 94107. (415) 538-1460, www.encounterbooks.com.
The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, by Debra Van Ausdale and Joe Feagin, explores the root causes and social dynamics of racism among children. The authors assess how children gain their initial insight into racial issues, how that knowledge manifests itself in their interactions with children of other races, and how to prevent racist frameworks from solidifying in the minds of youth. 229 pages. $18.95. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 4720 Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706. (800) 462-6420, www.rowmanlittlefield.com.
2004 Public Human Services Directory is a phonebook-size collection of names and contact information that covers the country from A to W (Alabama to Wyoming). Each state has a section that provides basic vital information – such as chief executives, addresses, phone numbers and websites – for state and county agencies, broken down both by subject (e.g., employment/training, mental health) and county. The federal section includes national and regional administrators for departments such as Labor, Education and Health and Human Services. This is a valuable resource for those who have to contact government agencies out of their immediate area. 711 pages. American Public Human Services Association, 810 First St. NE, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20002. (202) 682-0100, www.aphsa.org.
Social Work Practice with Children, by Nancy Boyd Webb, has been updated in this second edition to include recent theory and practice, providing a comprehensive framework for social work with youth. The content covers four major themes: the ecological-developmental perspective, the process of diagnosing and remedying youth social problems, different methods of helping youth, and helping children with special circumstances. Included are case studies, discussion questions and suggested role-playing exercises. 418 pages. $45. The Guilford Press, 72 Spring St., New York, NY 10012. (800) 365-7006, www.guilford.com.
Your Kids & Sports, by Michael Koehler, presents a blueprint for providing youth with a fulfilling sports experience. Koehler takes parents through the positive elements of youth sports (such as character-building, physical health), and advises them on how to avoid unpleasant and overly competitive situations. He also offers sound advice on healthy conditioning practices, spotting drug use and supporting young athletes through injuries. 224 pages. $14.95. Sorin Books, P.O. Box 428, Notre Dame, IN 46556. (800) 282-1865, www.sorinbooks.com.
Family and Child Well-Being After Welfare Reform, edited by Douglas Besharov, features 14 essays on child and family well-being in the post-welfare reform era, written by some of the most high-profile members in the field. After a few essays by editor Besharov on assessing the impact of welfare reform, the works focus on specific areas such as parent cohabitation, teenage pregnancy and juvenile delinquency. Each essay highlights current data and makes suggestions for improving the measurement of applicable indicators. Contributors include Wade Horn, secretary of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families; Isabel Sawhill, president of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy; and Richard Gelles, director of the Center for the Study of Youth Policy. 305 pages. $49.95. Transaction Publishers, 390 Campus Dr., Somerset, NJ 07830. (888) 999-6778, www.transactionpub.com.
The Goodness Within, by Mark Redmond, offers insightful reflections on working with troubled teens by following the 22-year youth work career of the author, who began as a volunteer at New York’s Convent House and is now executive director of Spectrum Youth and Family Services in Burlington, Vt. Redmond’s well-told narratives of his experiences with youth and youth workers are grouped by themes such as forgiveness, courage and leadership, and focus on finding hope in all kids. Goodness would be especially thought-provoking for newcomers to the field and among those for whom religion is a driving force in their work – the latter because Redmond’s career and stories are grounded in Christianity, with regular references to the Bible and Christian principles. 191 pages. $17.95. Paulist Press, 997 Macarthur Blvd., Mahwah, NJ 07430. (201) 825-7300, www.paulistpress.com.
The Six Pillars of Character: Fairness is the fourth in the “Popcorn Park” series for young children on character issues. In this episode, all is not well with the Muppet-like stars of the stage. Essie must choose between her two friends for the lead role in the play. One of them has hidden the other’s costume and fooled both her rival and Essie in an effort to gain the upper hand. Perplexed about how to decide who deserves the part, Essie does what any rational puppet would do: consults Socrates. Finally, a trial brings out the fairest resolution. 27 minutes. $65. Live Wire Media, 273 Ninth St., San Francisco, CA 94103. (800) 359-5437, www.livewiremedia.com.
Lingering in the Shadow: Teens Talk About Depression is a harrowing documentary chronicling the experiences of several teens with depression. The youths recount their downward spirals toward sickness, instability and even suicide attempts, while expert narration covers clinical aspects of the problems. Accompanied by a teacher/resource guide, “Lingering in the Shadow” can help parents and youth workers understand how subtle the indicators are, and how serious the consequences are for not noticing them. 60 minutes. $195. Newist/CESA 7, 2420 Nicolet Dr., IS 1040, Green Bay, WI 54311. (800) 633-7445, www.uwgb.edu/newist.
Families Talk About Encouraging Positive Activities drives home a point that should be obvious: When kids are doing productive activities, they aren’t doing things that are unproductive or even criminal. Four sets of inner-city parents narrate acted-out representations of what they do with their children to keep them active and healthy. Routine is a key, they all agree. Designated homework time and chores are vital to that effort. With more enjoyable activities, such as sports and music lessons, the challenge is to let youth try new things while also teaching what it means to commit themselves to an activity or a group. 18 minutes. $69.95. Active Parent Publishers, 1955 Vaughn Road NW, Suite 108, Kennesaw, GA 30144. (800) 825-0060, www.activeparenting.com.
Sex Smart for Teens: 3-Volume Set is not your parents’ sex education video. Hosted by a perky female comedian, the series begins with a video on abstinence, and moves to films about birth control methods and sexually transmitted infections. The series features up-front discussion using appropriate terminology while profiling and re-enacting situations involving well-adjusted young adults making rational decisions to abstain from sex or use protection. The videos do an excellent job of juggling a number of messages without contradictions, while maintaining a high-quality product that kids can respect. 88 minutes. $499.85 (also sold separately). Injoy Videos, 1435 Yarmouth Ave., Suite 102, Boulder, CO 80304. (800) 326-2082, www.injoyvideos.com.
Brandon Tells His Story is the real life tale of a young man who crashed his car into a tree one night while driving drunk. He suffered brain damage that shattered his memory skills and left him sounding mentally impaired. That’s why every high school kid should see this film: The idea of sounding like that should be enough to jolt even the most self-centered teen into not driving drunk. 28 minutes. Free. Century Council, 1310 G St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005. (202) 637-0077, www.centurycouncil.org.
Connecting with Kids for Parents: Digital Revolution explores the world’s advancing technology and the dangers it poses to a youth population that is often the target of marketing strategies. At its best, the film provides information on the very real problems posed by the Internet. At its lowest, it plays a subjective blame game with fast food, the video game industry and MTV. 24 minutes. $49.95. Active Parent Publishers, 1955 Vaughn Road NW, Suite 108, Kennesaw, GA 30144. (800) 825-0060, www.activeparenting.com.
Doing Hard Time is one in a series of MTV-produced films that “flip” the lives of troubled teens. Jonathan and Tina, two teens quick to fight without regard for the consequences, find themselves in maximum-security lockups. Tina is sentenced to death (though, mysteriously, she is allowed to mingle with the rest of the inmates), while Jonathan is in prison for drug trafficking. MTV has obvious production advantages over others in this field, and it shows in the flawless segues and name-brand music. None of this masks the inconsistencies that many teens will notice (such as Tina’s term on death row being less than a week long), but the point is made: Prison is a jungle that nobody is really ready for. 21 minutes. $149.95. AIMS Multimedia, 9710 DeSoto Ave., Chatsworth, CA 91311. (800) 367-2467, www.aimsmultimedia.com.