Spending some time in Wisconsin this summer, I naturally enjoy learning about what is going on, unique to this area. I was riding my bike with a friend who lives at Elkhart Lake several months a year and volunteers at the local prison. He shared this article from the Sheboygan Press about a program at the Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution in rural Plymouth. Incarcerated fathers can qualify for “For The Love of Reading ” program where they practice and then record “reading a children’s book aloud, along with a brief message of love and encouragement to their children, urging them to continue reading on their own or with a guardian at home. The DVDs are then mailed to their children.”
Apparently the program has sparked a change in attitude toward reading for the dads themselves. School was often a challenge for these men, and reading in particular. Since literacy is so embedded in learning, competency affects school performance and attitudes toward school. One dad has even picked up on the love of reading through this program of giving to his kids. “I didn’t realize how important it (reading) was back then,” Ramirez said. “Honestly, being locked up, having the time. … Out there, I wasn’t much of a positive influence because I was worried about how I was going to make the next dollar, but when you have time to sit back and actually think about where you went wrong, it definitely helps.”
Taking the time to “practice” reading the stories for their kids, these dads are inherently learning many of the keys to literacy– emotion expressed, lively dialogue, the elements of a good story–as well as learning to love reading, so everyone learns while making a special connection between dad and child. I applaud the facilitators of this program as as it helps reduce recidivism as well.
Look at what the power of reading can do!