Books related to Restorative Justice

Sarah Fuhrman, RJ Practitioner, has compiled this list of books that can be used as resources for Restorative Justice.  Please feel free to utilize them as they apply to you.


Youth Resources:


Durango Street. Bonham, Frank.  New York: Penguin, 1965.

A young boy feels that joining a gang is his only way to escape being terrorized in his neighborhood.  When a sympathetic social worker enters the neighborhood, all are suspicious, but they decide to accept his overture and try to use their gang for more than fighting. 

Atonement/Restorative Justice

Whirligig.  Fleischman, Paul.  New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1998.

Brent comes to terms with the consequences of his actions on a cross-country trip.  After his drunk-driving results in the death of a young woman, Brent is asked by the girl’s mother to travel to the four corners of the U.S. and create whirligigs in her memory.  In building the devices, Brent not only learns about himself, but creates objects that bring good to other’s lives.

Touching Spirit Bear.  Mikaelsen, Ben.  New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

After a violent attack on a peer, a Restorative Justice conference results in Cole being banished to an isolated Alaskan island to come to terms with himself and his actions.  Furious at his punishment, Cole tries to escape and nearly loses his life.  Sent home to recuperate, Cole realizes he blew a big chance and asks to go back to the island, where he learns more about himself than he had imagined.

Domestic Violence

Breathing Underwater.  Flinn, Alex.  New York: HarperCollins, 2001.

After his former girlfriend takes out a restraining order against him, Nick is forced to attend anger management classes and begins to reflect on what went wrong.


Keeping the Moon.  Dessen, Sarah.  New York: Viking, 1999.

When Colie is sent to spend the summer with eccentric aunt in the country, she makes unexpected friends, and ends up coming to terms with herself.

Girl Culture.  Greenfield, Lauren. San Francisco: Chronicle Books.  2002.

Greenfield, a photographer, presents images of girls at play, girls growing up, and girls playing at growing up.  Often compelling, the images and captions are sometimes disturbing, featuring little girls pretending to be Britney Spears, teen girls dressing up for a night on the town and more.  Not suitable for elementary or early middle school children, but it would make for a great discussion piece in a girls’ group.


Speak.  Anderson, Laurie Halse.  Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith Pub Inc. 2006 (Second printing). 

The summer before her freshman year of high school, Melinda is raped at a party and calls the cops.  None of her friends know of the incident, and blame her for busting up the party and getting everyone in trouble.  Feeling that no one cares about her, Melinda stops speaking and withdraws from her environment.  As the book ends, she confronts her attacker and makes steps towards restoring herself.


Cut.  McCormick, Patricia.  New York, NY: PUSH printing.  2002. 

Callie, a fifteen year old high school student, begins to cut herself and is sent to an institution to protect herself and receive help.  Slowly, she opens up to the other patients and her therapist, and begins the process of recovery. 

Eating Disorders

Stick Figure: A Diary of My Former Self.  Gottlieb, Lori.  New York: Simon & Schuster.  2000.  Gottlieb, now grown, went back to her parents’ house and discovered her adolescent diaries.  In them, she describes her battle with anorexia at age twelve.

Adult Resources:


A Framework for Understanding Poverty.  Payne, Ruby.  Highlands, Texas: aha! Process, Inc.  1996.

Payne provides an excellent overview of the “hidden rules” of class that affect interactions with others, as well as suggestions for how to bridge the gaps between middle-class adults and children in poverty. 


The Freedom Writers Diary.  Gruwell, Erin.  New York: Broadway Books.  1999.

Erin Gruwell, and enthusiastic young teacher, is assigned one of the most difficult classes at an inner-city school in California, where she asks her students to keep a diary of their lives for her.  The book is a collection of her, and her students, writings over the course of several years, documenting the incredible events they caused. 


Queen Bees and Wannabes.  Wiseman, Rosalind.  New York: Crown Publishers.  2002.

Wiseman provides lots of solid information and advice on how to help teenage girls navigate the difficult issues they face- cliques, boys, parties, bullying- as well as how to respond to situations as a parent or caregiver.  Excellent resource!

Girl Aggression

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls.  Simmons, Rachel.  New York: Harcourt.  2002.

Simmons explores the undercurrents of the girl world that were previously uncharted: Are girls mean to each other?  Do they fight?  What is girl aggression?  Through hundreds of interviews, she uncovers the uncomfortable truths, and offers advice on how to combat girl aggression.  Must read for anyone working with girls. 

Eating Disorders

The Cult of Thinness.  Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy.  New York: Oxford University Press.  2007. 

The Author discusses the social aspects of American women’s desire to be thin, including what causes our drive and what is behind it.

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia.  Hornbacher, Marya.  New York: HarperFlamingo.  1998.

With unflinching honesty, Hornbacher recounts her battles with eating disorders that began when she was nine.  This is an extremely difficult book to read, but brings the reader closer to understanding eating disorders than they ever will be without having one themselves.