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The books social workers recommend as good reads for students

In recent weeks  Andrew Ellery and I asked social workers to send us recommendations of books that would be good reads for social work students, both academic texts and fiction.

As you’ll see from the list below, the response was pretty overwhelming. We had a huge variety of suggestions sent to us via Twitter and our Community Care Facebook page (thanks to everyone who suggested books).

I’ve tried to put recommendations into categories – social work theory, children’s, adults and mental health and a general category that includes some films that were suggested. I’m sure certain books could go in different categories but hopefully this will help break it up a bit.

Andrew has been kind enough to track down the Twitter handles for everyone who recommended the books and, where possible, the authors too. So here’s the list. Thanks to Andrew for all his help putting this together too!

Recommended by Book
  Social work theory and practice
@AMLTaylor66 Anti-racism in Social work practice’ edited by @AngieBartoli
@McLikey and @Ermintrude2 Theory and Practice – A Guide for Social Work Students’ by Siobhan Maclean
@McLikey and Dominic T (Facebook) Relationship Based Social Work’ by Gillian Ruch
@Timkelly369 Empowerment in Action: Self Directed Groupwork’ by @jenniefleming out later this year
@Claregale A Brief Introduction to Social Work Theor’y by David Howe
@SlaterLisaM, Nicola H and Sarah C (Facebook) Social Work Skills and Knowledge, A Practice Handbook’ by Pamela Trevithick  “Just a classic” (Nicola) “Helped me get through my placement” (Sarah)
@tellmeaboutsw ‘Learning matters ‘loss and social work’ by Currer was really good. Loss and change not covered at Uni but central to practice”
@JCK_Training ‘Good Practice in Assessing Risk (Kemshall)
@notsurejustyet Practical Social Work Law: Analysing Court Cases and Inquiries’ by Siobhan Laird
Nicola H (Facebook) ‘Tackling social exclusion’ by Pierson. “Great for understanding how the bigger picture impacts individuals and communities”
Timmy G (Facebook) Anti-discriminatory practice’ by Neil Thompson “One of the first books I read as a student and it covered most elements of social work practice”
Claire B (Facebook) “I found the Learning Matters series very helpful in the first year for a basic introduction to each model and as a guide to further reading”
@Harr_Ferguson and @AMLTaylor66 ‘Reflections on a Life in Social Work: A Personal & Professional Memoir’ by Olive Stevenson
Nimal J (Facebook) ‘The emotionally intelligent social worker’ by David Howe was one of my favourites.
Kirsty D (Facebook) Applying social work theories and methods’ by Teater
@KerryFidler ‘Empathy: what it is and why it matters’ by David Howe. “A lovely, accessible book which explores what empathy is and why social workers need it”.
Children’s care
@caramelladella Child Protection Practice’ by @Harr_Ferguson
@BecciCath Making Sense of the Children Act’ by Nick Allen
@liverpoolfordy The Child’s World: a comprehensive guide to assessing complex need’ by Jan Horwath
@gardnerres and @padraig48 A Child’s Journey Through Placement’ by V Fahlberg
@gardnerres Child Centred Foster Care: A Rights Based Model for Practice’ by A Goodyer
@AMLTaylor66 The Brightness of Stars: Stories of Adults Who Came Through The British Care System’ by @_LisaCherry
@Andrew_Ellery Conducting the Home Visit in Child Protection’ by @JoannaNicolas (part of the social work pocketbook series from @OpenUPNursing)
Inspired Foundations (Facebook) ‘The boy who was raised as a dog’ by Bruce Perry. “A fantastic book detailing the impact of trauma and neglect on children”.
Gracey G (Facebook) Baby X’ by Harry Keeble
@jlwestwood Dibs in Search of Self: Personality Development in Play Therapy’ by Virginia M Axline
Nicky A (Facebook) Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt
 Adult care and mental health
@Lillieputian Understanding Community Care: A Guide for Social Workers’ by Ann McDonald 
@Connorkinsella Introducing Mental Healt’h by Conor and Caroline Kinsella @carolinekin
@Lillieputian Mental Health Social Work in Context by Nick Gould’ is a book I found most useful
@Ermintrude2 Understanding Social Work Practice in Mental Health’ (Coppock/Dunn) and Mental Capacity Act code of practice (free from Department of Health)
@Andrew_Ellery Working with Substance Users’ by Kim Heanue and Chris Lawton
@Sangeeta_k Working with disabled people in policy & practice’ by French and Swain
Squiggle S (Facebook) Psychiatric Tales by Darryl Cunningham’ is amazing!
David S (Facebook) Borderline Welfare by Cooper and Lausada’ – “shows how bureaucracy in service provision can be harmful”
@padraig48 On Death and Dying: What the Dying have to teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and their own Families’ by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
@AMLTaylor66 Love’s Executioner: Tales of Psychotherapy’ by Yalom
General (including fiction books and films)
@jlwestwood The State in Capitalist Society’ by Ralph Miliband
@AMLTaylor66 Disappearing home’ by @Deb_M_Morgan
@AMLTaylor66 Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normalby @wintersonworld
@AMLTaylor66 Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl
@SWinHealth The Geography of Thought: how Asians and Westerners think differently’ by Richard Nisbett
@Ermintrude2 The Color of Water’ by James McBride
Dominic T and Sam O (Facebook) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon’ “A must for those interested in learning disability or autistic spectrum disorder work”
@JCK_Training ‘Push: a novel’ by Sapphire
@VivCree To Kill a Mockingbird’ is one of my favourite books. It’s not just about racism but also about standing in someone else’s shoes
@darrenlynch67 Fifty-one moves’, a book by @AshcroftBen
@darrenlynch67 Wasted’ by @markwasted
@launewby Tyrannosaur’ is a must see film about domestic violence & ‘Boy A’ is another good film for social workers too [FILM]
@gardnerres Pixar’s ‘Up’ [FILM]
@Lillieputian The Woodsman (FILM)
@darrenlynch67 Rochdale Pioneers. A film of a situation that has many parallels with current divisive society (FILM)

About Andy McNicoll

Andy is community editor at Community Care, with a focus on reporting on mental health. He has previously worked for titles focusing on the NHS and substance misuse sectors. You can contact him at

2 Responses to The books social workers recommend as good reads for students

  1. Rachael Kemp 7 September , 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    Anything by Harry keeble

  2. Andrea Mitchell 11 September , 2013 at 9:27 am #

    ‘It was that one moment’ by Dan Hughes