Looking for a last minute gift for that special social worker in your life? For shame, there’s only three days to go! And if this is a Jewish social worker, you’ve missed the boat entirely.
Oh well. If you hurry, you make use of these recommendations. (In case you’re wondering, I barely even get paid to do my actual job, so I am definitely not making money here.)
SocialJerk Book Club (I’ve always thought that Oprah and I have a lot in common.)
- Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Work in the Bronx? Love the Bronx? Wish you were cool like the Bronx? This is the book for you! It’s also an incredible, true story of one family going through the cycle of poverty. Not entirely original, but the love and respect with which this story is told unique.
- American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation’s Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle
Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. But it’s an amazing look into welfare reform, and how it affected actual people. Not just those welfare queens in their cadillacs that we always hear about.
- Lost Children of Wilder: The Epic Struggle to Change Foster Care by Nina Bernstein
Warning: This one isn’t what you’d call uplifting. A teenager is part of a class action law suit, claiming that the NYC foster care system is discriminatory and unconstitutional. While all this is going on, she has her own son, whom she relinquishes to care. Many things have changed for the better, but so much of what I read in this book reminds me of what drives me crazy today. But it is an amazing analysis of foster care, at least in New York, and the changes that have been made and what still needs to be done.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Not exactly a social work book, but it is the most stunning book about teenage depression I’ve ever read. I read it in one day when I got it for Christmas, at age 15. I felt like I was reading the story of my life and someone finally understood me. (Whatever, 15 year olds are supposed to be dramatic.) I’d recommend it to anyone who works with teens. Or who likes awesome books with fabulous mid 90s references.
Don’t worry–only for emergencies, never for unruly children. I swear.
- Comfy sneakers
It’s fine, Letterman made professional dress matched with sneakers cool and acceptable. Necessary, because we do a lot of walking. Often in bad neighborhoods. Which means sometimes we have to do some running.
- Glee Christmas Album
Do you need any more reason, other than “it’s awesome?” OK. Sometimes, the job is hard, holidays aren’t happy for everyone, and the Christmas spirit gets dangerously low. (And we all know that’s what powers Santa’s sleigh.) Nothing lifts my mood like Glee. If it doesn’t do the same for you…well I just don’t know if we have anything to say to each other.
Aside from that, nothing makes me happy like inclusivity and a lack of heteronormativity. A couple of cute teenage boys chasing each other around while singing a love song, on national television like it’s no big thang? Love it for my teens.
- Spanish-English dictionary
Avoid sounding like an idiot. A former co-worker was constantly asking kids how many anuses they have, instead of how old they are, and saying, “I love you?” instead of asking if they wanted a snack. Seriously. Don’t be that crazy person.
- Subway/bus map
You’re going to be on public transit, and you’re going to get lost. Prepare for it now.
- Silly Bandz, slap bracelets, whatever the latest trend is.
Nothing gets you in good with a reluctant kid like nonchalantly flashing proof that you follow the latest fads.
- Play Doh
Because everyone loves it. You’re never too old. I have my own set that I don’t even let the kids play with. (What, they always mix up the colors. I hate that.)
I believe we’ve gone over this.
Well, I hope I was able to help. (It’s kind of why I got into this profession.) And if your own budget is a little too tight, maybe you can hug a social worker this holiday season. We like that sort of thing.