Building Reading and Relationships with Justice-Involved Families

Extension’s Making Reading Memories is a core strategy of Extension’s Literacy Link program and is aimed at supporting incarcerated parents to become actively engaged with their children. The program elevates learning and practicing skills that promote literacy and emotional bonding. As part of the program, incarcerated parents are video recorded reading one or more books for their children. The recordings and books are sent to caregivers at home who in turn support their children in viewing the videos and reading along with them. The goal is to increase literacy opportunities for children and maintain parent-child relationships during incarceration.

Incarceration disproportionately affects low-income communities of color and is harmful to both children and parents. It interrupts and obstructs parenting, making it difficult to maintain parent-child relationships and limiting the possibilities for interaction with children.

This research project will investigate and build additional research needed to learn from justice-involved families about their experience with Making Reading Memories, its effect on children’s coping skills and attachment, and how program improvements can be made to bolster outcomes.

Principal Investigator

Pajarita Charles, Assistant Professor and Director, Lab for Family Wellbeing & Justice, Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

Co-Principal Investigator

Elizabeth Lexau, Interim Justice-Involved Families Specialist Literacy Link Coordinator

Co-Principal Investigator

Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, Dorothy A. O’Brien Professor of Human Ecology Professor, Human Development & Family Studies