Women Helping Women, One Book At A Time

This article at the Federalist features something beautiful: women joining together locally to help imprisoned mothers connect with their children.

The Women’s Storybook Project of Texas, a nonprofit in Austin, goes into prisons to record incarcerated mothers reading stories to their kids. The organization then sends the books and recordings to the women’s families.

One of the most inspiring things about the project is the fact that it is done by and for local women:

“Two Saturdays each month, volunteers for the Women’s Storybook Project (or Storybook, as they call it) pile into vans and SUVs and drive a couple of hours to women’s prisons in central and eastern Texas. There, they go through prison security, unload children’s books that were donated through book drives or local Barnes and Noble stores, and set up shop…”

While “Storybook” necessitates the time commitment of donated Saturdays, its regional focus makes the task manageable and the goal achievable. Founder Judith Dullnig “launched Storybook at the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville, Texas, with five volunteers, some books she had purchased from T.J. Maxx, and a few tape recorders,” but that was all that she needed to begin to help the “150,000 children across the United States [who] don’t know a mother’s voice as well as they know its silence.”

Thanks to a small group of dedicated women in Austin, many of these children will be able to listen to their mothers over and over again.  The project is also a way of easing and supporting the mothers’ reentry into society after they have completed their sentence.

It is so important that these small, startup nonprofits continue to have the freedom to serve in their communities. “Storybook” was not an initiative conceived by the state, but by Texas mothers who know the benefit of reading to their children and wanted families in difficult circumstances to receive the same benefits.

The resulting “coterie of women in Austin, armed with recorders and children’s books” were able to follow their charitable impulses and inspire others to do the same. Their simple gifts of books, CDs, and most of all—time—is doing incredible good by “harnessing the power of a mother’s voice, inspiring hope, improving female inmates’ chances for successful reentry, and reminding children that, even if they have an incarcerated mother, they are still loved.”

Brava, Women’s Storybook Project of Texas!


Photo credit: Edenpictures

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