Most of us have fond memories of sitting on a lap — maybe mom’s or dad’s or grandma’s — with a book in front of us, anticipating every turn of the page to find out what happens next. And if you’re a parent, maybe you have those memories with your child(ren), their small hands grabbing onto the book, and their attentiveness when you read them the story — the kind of attention that’s hard to get otherwise.
Unfortunately for some 2.7 million children in the world, they don’t have the benefit of parents guiding them through different levels of literacy. 1 in 28 children in the U.S. have a parent behind bars, and statistics show that up to 70% of U.S. inmates are functionally illiterate, and more than 800,000 state and federal inmates have children.
How can illiteracy be combated when a child’s parent(s) are behind bars?
In 2014, an eighth-grader by the name of Jane Handel started A Book From Mom. The inspiration was stemmed from her relationship with her mother and the power of books, especially at a young, impressionable age. She heard about the lack of resources in prisons, and wanted to help foster and strengthen the connection between incarcerated parents and their children. She collects books and donates to prisons, in which moms can pick out new books to read with their children during visits, and then send the books back home with them.
30,000 books have been passed between parents to children. The donor base increasingly expands, as does the program. Right now, it is located in Massachusetts, but programs like this are always so great to see!