A collaboration between Essex Libraries, Red Lion Books in Colchester and Chelmsford Prison will mean that convict fathers will be able to give books to their visiting children and read with them in a new scheme.
The initiative is designed to help children improve their reading skills, while visiting their fathers in prison, solidifying positive stereotypes and helping prisoners to resist reoffending.
Essex Libraries and Red Lion Books have donated more than 500 books to the prison, allowing this scheme to take place, and now Chelmsford Prison will organise quiet sessions where the books can be given away, and parents and children can read together. The sessions will be held away from the main visiting hall and it’s hoped that it will provide a better experience for children visiting the prison, and reduce the chance of reoffending too.
There’s a distinct link between crime and literacy, and research has shown that strong family relationships reduce the likelihood of reoffending. So far the feedback from the children has been wonderful, with most noting what a great time they had while visiting their fathers in prison where reading books with dad is much nicer than making yourself heard in a busy visiting room.
Schemes such as this one make such a difference and it would be fantastic to see more ways to increase literacy among those who need it most, breaking cycles and changing things for the future.