National Social Work Month

National Social Work Month is celebrated every March.  Some children and young adults may have encountered social workers, but many may not understand what social workers actually do.  Try some of the following activities to help them understand the focus of social services and why social workers are needed in our communities.

  • Tell readers that Frances Perkins was the pioneer of social work.  Ask them to find out about Perkins and why the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911 caused her to become dedicated to social work.
  • Suggest that readers write a tribute to her for the school or library website.
  • Have readers read about the Orphan Trains and discuss why The Children’s Aid Society is classed a social service organization.  How was this movement the beginning of the foster care system in the United States
  • Suggest that readers find out the many duties of social workers.  Then have children ages 9-up to write a job description for a social worker in their city or county.
  • Ask a social worker to speak to readers and tell them the specifics of their job.  Why do school districts and hospital employ social workers? Have readers prepare questions to ask the guest speaker.
  • “Forging Solutions Out of Challenges” is the theme for 2016 National Social Work Month.  Display books about children and families may benefit from the help of a social worker. For example, how could a social worker have helped Zachary in When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. Then have them share the book they select.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Dealing with the Poor

A Chance to Shine (picture book) by Steve Seskin

Something Beautiful (picture book) by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

The Mighty Miss Malone (middle grade) by Christopher Paul Curtis

Bucking the Sarge (young adult) by Christopher Paul Curtis


Foster Care

Carolina Harmony (middle grade) by Marilyn Taylor McDowell

But, Not Buddy (middle grade) by Christopher Paul curtis

Grover G. Graham and Me (middle grade) by Mary Quattlebaum

Pictures of Hollis Woods (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Ball Don’t Lie (young adult) by Matt De La Peêa

Shifty (young adult) by Lynn e. Hazen

The Story of Tracy Beaker (young adult) by Jacquline Wilson


Adopted Children

Ten Days and Nine Nights (picture book) by Yumi Heo

All the Way Home (middle grade) by Patricia Reilly Giff

Finding Miracles (young adult) by JJulia Alvarez

Invisible Threads (young adult) by Annie Dalton and Maria Dalton


Troubled Families

Holes (middle grade) by Louis Sachar

Liar and Spy (middle grade) by Rebecca Stead

Nest (middle grade) by Esther Ehrlich

A Piece of Heaven (middle grade) by Sharon Dennis Wyeth

Black Box (young adult) by Julie Schumacher

Grief Girl (young adult) by Erin Vincent

Life is Fine (young adult) by Allison Whittenbert

Prizefighter en Mi Casa (young adult by e. E. Charlton-Trujillo


Aide to Immigrants

Return to Sender (middle grade) by Julia Alvarez

Enrique’s Journey (young adult) by Sonia Nazario

Red Glass (young adult) by Laura Resau

Random House Teachers and Librarians