For most parents nothing quite compares to those special moments when you tuck the kids into bed, snuggle beside them and read from their favorite storybooks. It is a magical time when everything in the house slows down and quiet is about to prevail.
Some parents do not get to experience this special time. It could be a work schedule that interferes or perhaps reading is not something that comes easily and they are embarrassed to show their children that they never learned to read themselves. But-as Pat Brisson a New Jersey-based children’s author and librarian learned, there is another situation which keeps parents from engaging in this special activity. For parents who are serving time in prison and away from their children this special ritual is impossible to carry out.
In 2003 Pat approached the staff at a local women’s prison about possible volunteer opportunities and they mentioned a reading program that would allow the women to bond with their children by recording books and sending the cassette and book to their child(ren) at home.
What a perfect match! Pat has been involved in Project Storybook since that time and when we spoke with her she described how meaningful it was for these women to connect with their kids in this way. An initial grant covered the purchase of the cassette recorders and volunteers work with Pat during the recording sessions. Somehow, whenever there was a need for some modest sum of money to buy more tapes, it almost miraculously appeared. We asked Pat if we could purchase a supply of books but she assured us that there was a huge inventory of books already available. What we could provide, though, were Spanish language books, which many of the women would read if they were available.
What a simple request! In ten minutes we had selected and ordered many new titles from the Amazon website and Pat just wrote with the following update…
I just wanted you to know that all 22 of the Spanish books you ordered for Project Storybook arrived and they were out on the table for distribution last week in the maximum security area of Edna Mahan. Six have already been selected and will be recorded and mailed home this week. On behalf of the women who chose them and the children who will soon receive them, I send you sincere thanks.