“Reading aloud is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to help a child prepare for reading and learning”
“Reading is the gateway to future success in life and in school”
BCFI’s commitment to the successful reintegration of inmates and to stronger, healthier communities includes the development of Children of Inmates Reading Program (ChIRP). The mandate of ChIRP is to build and enhance a healthier parent/child relationship, develop literacy and listening skills, increase vocabulary and attention spans for children and promote a love of learning in children through the consistent presence of a parent and books.
For the past 10 years, Carla Veitch, a children’s educator, has been successfully developing and operating a parent/child reading initiative. Twice a month, Carla, along with another volunteer, enter the institution and offer men the opportunity to select a book for their child and then read that book into a recording device. The book and recording are then mailed to the child.
This initiative provides a direct connection for the child with his or her incarcerated parent. In addition to the opportunity of hearing a parent’s voice, the reading initiative underscores the value of reading and the importance of books. For a number of the participants, reading aloud to their child has not been part of their pattern of parenting, nor was it modelled for them as part of their early childhood years.
Children are never responsible for their parents’ choices. At the same time, they are the hidden victims not only in the justice and correctional system, but also within our larger community.