Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.
If you work with youth or have them in your life, please take time to listen to this moving segment from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/01/10/144944598/to-do-well-in-life-you-have-to-read-well
The Read-to-Me literacy program, a cooperative effort between the Indiana State Library Development Office (LDO) and the state’s correctional facility libraries, began in the fall of 2000 to enable incarcerated parents an opportunity to share the joys of reading with their children. Through this program, offenders discover the personal value and personal connections for both the child and themselves in developing literacy skills. Parents, regardless of their educational levels, become their child’s first teachers.
The program has four primary objectives:
In the beginning, the LDO collaborated with the Indiana Center for the Book to provide the program’s components. The Read-to-Me program began at the Indiana Women’s Prison and has expanded to institutions for men, women, and juvenile prisoners and their children. Of the first four partners, three of the institutions used audiocassettes with one of the women’s facilities opting to use videocassettes to share books as well as short personal messages for their children. Many offenders from the Indiana Women’s Prison, the Plainfield Correctional Facility, the Rockville Correctional Facility, the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility, Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Indiana State Prison, Atterbury Correctional Facility, Edinburgh Correctional Facility, and Correctional Industrial Facility were actively involved in the program during the first five years of operation.
Currently, the Indiana State Library Development Office provides children’s books, cassette tapes, CD-ROMS, CD Sleeves, mailing envelopes and postage for mailing the tapes/CD-ROMs with cases, and books. Grant funds, publisher donations, and local donations enable the program to continue. The library welcomes new and gently used books to assist in the success of this program. Institutional librarians request books for children up to age 10 for the offenders to select. Offenders work with the facility librarians, teachers, other facility employees, or volunteers to record the books they select. They complete a Family History Survey that addresses their reading experiences. The recorded books and surveys are returned to the Library Development Office. A letter acknowledging the collaboration between the State Library and the correctional facility is sent to the child.
A follow-up survey is completed and returned to the LDO after children receive the packages and communicate about the gift with their incarcerated parents or other relatives. The surveys were included in the program to measure the reactions of the incarcerated parents and the responses of the children.
Below are some responses from offenders “in their own words” to survey question 4: Please tell how the Read-To-Me Program has made a difference in your life.
For more information about the program or how your library can reach out to offenders in nearby facilities, contact Marcia Smith-Woodard at 317-232-3719, 800-451-6028 (Indiana only), FAX: 317-232-0002, or mwoodard@library.IN.gov.