These incarcerated moms are making audiobooks so they can read to their children.

For a child with a parent behind bars, life can be isolating and stressful.

As many as 10 million children experience the pain of a parental incarceration at some point in their lives, missing out on the everyday activities so many take for granted. This particular separation can be as damaging as a death or divorce due to shame, stigma, and lack of understanding.

And staying connected with an incarcerated parent is not easy. Phone calls from prison are often cost prohibitive, and outgoing mail is frequently delayed. Given the location of state and federal prisons, many kids are unable to visit their parents behind bars.


In fact, 59% of parents in state facilities reported never having had a visit from their children.

For parents behind bars, visits like this one are a rarity. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

But volunteers with the Women's Storybook Project found a way for moms in prison to connect with their little ones.

Founded by Judith Dullnig in 2003, the Texas nonprofit allows incarcerated women to read books to their children.

All GIFs from Women's Storybook Project Texas.

With the help of one of the 150 volunteers, each mom selects a book and reads it aloud into a tape recorder.

The tapes and books are then mailed to their children, so the kids can hear their mother's voices and feel close to her during the challenging period of her incarceration.


An inmate's child reads his storybook with a relative.

Each month, the program mails approximately 350 new books and tapes to children.

The Women's Storybook Project is currently available in five of the eight women's prison facilities in Texas, with the goal of expanding to the entire network.

The Women's Storybook Project isn't just a win for the kids, it's a priceless opportunity for their moms.

Lauri Arrington, a former Storybook participant, recorded 14 books for her children while she was incarcerated. She was released two years ago and wrote about her experience with the program in The New York Times.

For Arrington and others, the program offered normalcy and dignity while living in a place often lacking both. She writes, "Many women told me that while reading to their children, they briefly felt normal. Helping them, I felt normal. Normal as in, someone who mattered again."

With the success of the Women's Storybook Project, similar programs are taking off across the country.

A corrections facility in New York launched its own Story Corner, and facilities in Iowa and Maryland offer Storybook projects for dads behind bars too.

As the American prison population continues to grow, programs like this become invaluable to maintaining strong family relationships, which can improve an inmate's success upon release.

See the power of the Storybook Project in this short video created by Women's Storybook Project Texas.

More
Courtesy of Houseplant.

In America, one dumb mistake can hang over your head forever.

Nearly 30% of the American adult population — about 70 million people — have at least one criminal conviction that can prevent them from being treated equally when it comes to everything from job and housing opportunities to child custody.

Twenty million of these Americans have felony convictions that can destroy their chances of making a comfortable living and prevents them from voting out the lawmakers who imprisoned them.

Many of these convictions are drug-related and stem from the War on Drugs that began in the U.S. '80s. This war has unfairly targeted the minority community, especially African-Americans.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular