Pelzer's first book, A Child Called "It" was published in 1995 and describes the abuse Pelzer suffered in his childhood. His second book, The Lost Boy: A Foster Child's Search for the Love of a Family was published shortly after in 1997. The book covered Pelzer's teen years. The third book in his series, A Man Named Dave: A Story of Triumph and Forgiveness was about Pelzer's experiences as an adult and how he forgave his father. In 2001 he wrote Help Yourself: Finding Hope, Courage, And Happiness which was a self-help book. When discussing his seventh book Moving Forward he said, "My message has always been about resilience". 
Reception of first book
His first book "A Child Called It" was successful and garnered interest. It was listed on the New York Times Bestseller List for several years and in 5 years had sold at least 1.6 million copies. Pelzer was invited to television shows such as Montel Williams and The Oprah Winfrey Show to give interviews after the book was published.
Readers responded in their own ways to the book; in a 2001 news article Orion UK Publishing's Trevor Dolby said, "We get 10 letters a day from people saying the first book mirrors their own childhood, which is very depressing."  One reader was quoted: "(The book) made me see that I wasn't the only one out there...that had this...in their life. That there's people who do understand."
Writer David Plotz criticized Pelzer in an article he wrote for Slate. In the article Plotz says that because Pelzer's parents are dead it is hard to question them.