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6 books for kids with parents behind bars

Sep 29, 2016

More than 5 million kids in the U.S. have have a parent who is currently or was previously incarcerated at some point since they were born. That's about one in every 14 kids under the age of 18.

In Michigan, nearly 228,000 children - one out of 10 - have had a parent imprisoned. The state ranks fifth in the nation, according to The Detroit News.

Having a household member behind bars is considered one those key Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES, that we've discussed before. The emotional trauma can contribute to health, educational and social problems.

There are many family-centered services to support incarcerated parents, their kids and families during incarceration and following release.

And there are also books written for kids of all ages with a parent behind bars. Here are 6 we recommend:

1. Visiting Day
     By: Jacqueline Woodson

This picture book tells the story of a little girl getting ready to visit her father in prison. The young girl and her grandmother take a long bus ride upstate with other families on their way to visit loved ones, sharing hope and comforting one another.

2. Mama Loves Me From Away
     By: Pat Brisson

Sugar feels alone and sad when her mother is sent to prison. For their shared birthday, her mother gives her a special gift to make her feel closer during their time apart.

3. The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail
      By: Melissa Higgins

Sketch, a young rabbit, witnesses his father's arrest at their home. The book follows Sketch as he experiences confusion, anger and embarrassment. It also offers tips for dealing with a parent going to jail or prison.

4. Wish You Were Here: Teens Write about Parents in Prison

This book features a collection of true stories written by teens and parents coping with the complicated feelings associated with having an incarcerated parent.

5. An Inmates Daughter
     By: Jan Walker

Jenna's dad is incarcerated at McNeil Island, a prison in the middle of Puget Sound. She spends the summer before eighth grade trying to join the in-group at her school and dealing with her mother's rule that she must keep her father's imprisonment a secret.

6. When Andy's Father Went To Prison
     By: Martha Whitmore Hickman

Andy's father is sent to prison for robbery and his family moves to be near him. Andy experiences feelings of sadness over learning his father is guilty of a crime, and he worries about what the kids at his new school will think.