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Three Little Words

Three Little Words

A Memoir

For Ages: 14 and up
  • reading group guide
  • 6awards
  • freshman reading
An inspiring true story of the tumultuous nine years Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent in the foster care system, and how she triumphed over painful memories and real-life horrors to ultimately find her own voice.

"Sunshine, you're my baby and I'm your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she's not your mama." Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.

Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative, humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed - and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.
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  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416948070 | 
  • May 2009 | 
  • Grades 9 and up
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide to
Three Little Words: A Memoir

By Ashley Rhodes-Courter About the Book
Ashley was only three years old when she was taken from her mother -- too young to understand why she couldn't stay with the mother she adored and she could not possibly have realized that she was going to spend the next nine years bouncing from one foster family to another. As a small child she could not stand up for herself when the people that were charged with her care failed her. At twenty years old, her mother Lorraine was also too young to take responsibility for her two children or negotiate the legal system that tore apart her family. Three Little Words is Ashley's story, told in her voice, about the time she spent without Lorraine, and her search for someone to mother her. It contains all the passion and detail that can only come from someone who has experienced the foster care system from the inside.
About the Author
After spending almost ten years in foster care, twenty-two year old Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been featured in Glamour, USA Today, and on The Today Show. Ashley is a sought-after child advocate and gives keynotes to conferences on foster care and adoption all across the United States. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and has been invited to the White House twice. In early 2007, she was honored with a Golden BR!CK Award, which gave $25,000 to her charity: the North American Council on Adoptable Child see more

About the Author

Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Photo Credit:

Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Ashley Rhodes-Courter has been featured in Teen People, The New York Times, USA TODAY, and Glamour, as well as on Good Morning America. Her first memoir, Three Little Words, began as an essay, which won a writing contest for high school students, and was published in The New York Times Magazine. She is also the author of Three More Words. A graduate of Eckerd College and a champion for the reformation of the foster care system, Ashley speaks internationally on foster care and adoption. Visit her at Rhodes-Courter.com.

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