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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Storybook Project

Reading begins healing for moms in prison

Using only children's books and tape recorders, a program sponsored by Lutheran Social Services of Illinois is giving incarcerated women the chance to be mothers again. For some it's the first time they've done what most parents take for granted: reading to their child.

"We had one mom who was reading a book to her son who is 16," says Linda Ketcham, who runs the Storybook Project for LSSI at the Logan Correctional Center, Lincoln, Ill. "What was incredible was her recognition that she had never read to him. She realized how much she had missed and promised to read to him when she gets back."

While it can be very meaningful to participants, the Storybook Project is relatively simple to carry out. Volunteers gather new children's paperbacks, 60-minute tapes and tape recorders. With permission from the institution, the volunteers meet with the prisoners. "We just tape the women reading to their kids," says Sister Pat Davis, LSSI associate director of prisoner and family ministries. "They talk to the kids; tell them they love them." Then the tape, along with the book, is mailed to the child.


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