5 Must-Read Books for Aspiring Social Workers

FSU Social Work Books and Reading - blog header
FSU Social Work Books and Reading - blog header

Social work is an important and challenging profession, and those who are drawn to social work are typically motivated by a desire to help others. However, prospective students of social work are often unclear on the exact nature of the career and the techniques that will be required of them in their professional practice. These five books for social workers can help shed light on the profession, highlight some of the most common challenges encountered by social workers and provide insight into the skills required to excel in the field.

What should I read if I want to become a social worker?

1. It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying and Creating a Life Worth Living, edited by Dan Savage and Terry Miller

Synopsis: Savage and Miller launched the It Gets Better Project Youtube channel in 2010 in response to a startling number of high-profile bullying incidents of LGBT youth and their subsequent suicides. This book of essays aims to help struggling teens envision a brighter future.

Why this book is important for prospective social workers: Those looking to enter social work can learn techniques for providing hope to teens who feel like outsiders, whether LGBT or not.

2. A Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger

Synopsis: Metzger's novel tells a familiar story in a unique manner. Written from the point of view of the main character's eating disorder, A Trick of the Light explores the struggle and insecurities of anorexia for one 14-year-old boy.

Why this book is important for prospective social workers: Eating disorders are notoriously challenging to treat, and this novel provides valuable insights into the illness -- and particularly the way it affects teenage boys, whose struggles with eating disorders are often overshadowed by those of teenage girls.

3. Days in the Lives of Social Workers: 58 Professionals Tell Real-Life Stories From Social Work Practice, edited by Linda May Grobman

Synopsis: Through a series of essays written by social workers operating in a variety of different fields and practices, this book provides valuable insights into the profession from the point of view of those in the trenches.

Why this book is important for prospective social workers: Social work is a much broader profession than many students realize; this book highlights the possibilities for those holding an online master's of social work, from working in a health care setting to becoming involved with community organizing.

4. Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray

Synopsis: In her autobiography, Murray recounts her experiences as the child of drug-addicted, mentally ill parents.

Why this book is important for prospective social workers: Understanding the effects of a traumatic and difficult childhood is critical to helping youth in such circumstances, and Murray's memoir is illuminating.

5. Stir It Up: Lessons in Community Organizing and Advocacy by Rinku Sen

Synopsis: Sen, a well-known activist and social organizer, draws upon her own experiences with women's groups to outline the key strategies and priorities in advocating for social change organizations.

Why this book is important for prospective social workers: Many who go into social work are interested in working toward social change, and this book provides a strong overview of what is involved with social advocacy.

How can potential students find out more about Florida State University's online master's degree in social work? For more information on Florida State University's online master's degree in social work program, please call (888) 368-0834.