One of Literacy Chippewa Valley’s most meaningful projects during the holiday season, Parents Sharing Books, was recently featured on WEAU TV. Weekend Anchor Amanda Tyler interviewed two inmates at the Eau Claire County Jail as well as LCV jail instructor Louise Bentley. You can watch the interview at http://www.weau.com/content/news/Non-profit-helps-inmates-share-books-with-kids-during-the-holidays-462386983.html.
Parents Sharing Books is a literacy program in partnership with the Chippewa, Dunn and Eau Claire county jails. Inmates who are parents, and who will be incarcerated for Christmas, have the opportunity to share something special with their child – a book.
The program goes like this: Literacy Chippewa Valley receives donated children’s books from the Chippewa Falls High School National English Honors Class, the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library and other groups. The program directors at the three county jails determine which inmates who have children would like to record a book for their child as a holiday gift. This list is given to Literacy Corrections Instructors, and then they bring a variety of new books to the jails. Inmates get to choose a book for each child that they would like to read to. As the parent reads to a literacy volunteer, they are recorded. Then the recording is put on a CD and is mailed to the child along with their individual book and a Literacy Chippewa Valley special bookmark in a wrapped package. Packages are sent so they are received on time for Christmas.
“This program may sound like a simple gesture,” said Literacy Chippewa County Corrections Instructor Louise Bentley, “but it means the world to the children and to their parents. For the nearly 100 children involved each year, the book may be the only gift that they receive from their incarcerated parent. And to hear their parent’s voice on the CD, it is that much more special to them.” It is also very important to the inmates. Each year, they fill out evaluation forms on Parents Sharing Books and express how much it means to them. They are very thankful for this opportunity, and have hopes that next year, thanks to rehabilitation programs in the jail such as this, they will spend next Christmas at home with their children.