UP with Books: Fosters mother-child reading in prison on visiting day

Each year we reach over 20,000 women in prisonand through them, their childrenwith books, life skills resources, and mentoring. We turn visiting day in prisons into a reading day.

We purchase, ship, and donate new books for children to read with their mothers in prison on visiting day.

We’ve formed a collaboration with the Children’s Book Council! Check out some of the media coverage about this exciting partnership: 

“The unPrison Project partners with the Children’s Book Council to Build Prison-Nursery Libraries for Incarcerated Mothers and Their Babies”

National Endowment for the Arts: “In Prison, Family Bonding through Books

Melissa Harris-Perry/MSNBC chooses Deborah Jiang-Stein as Foot Soldier of the week:
 UP Infographic

Why? 200,000 women are in prison in the U.S., the majority with children, and the incarceration rate for women has risen 800% over a 20-year span. 2.7 million under age children have a parent in prison. We use reading and books to connect incarcerated parents and their children.

EVERY $250
* Supports 10 mothers in prisons with children’s books to read with their kids on visiting days, plus
* Provides a discussion guide for the mom to accompany the book, plus
* Provides 10 journals for the mothers

To bring our literacy and life skills programs to one prison costs, on average $5,000, depending on the prison size. We welcome with gratitude every financial gift which helps build and foster literacy for mothers in prison and their children.

Please donate as you are able so that we can purchase and ship new books and continue to build our reading programEvernote Camera Roll 20141028 201138.

We believe in the potential of every woman and child, no matter what. We believe literacy is a social and revolutionary action for change. Read about the founder, Deborah Jiang-Stein, a woman born in prison.

UP with Books is our initiative to donate books for mothers in prisons to read with their children on visiting day. The unPrison Project provides high-quality, diverse children’s books for ages 0-18 in prison visiting rooms for mothers to read with their children.

The children then take the books home. A selection of books will also remain in the visiting room for circulation. For some children, this will be the first gift they’ve ever received from their mother?

featured UP mediaOurt literacy program helps the next generations:

  • Over 200,000 women sit in prisons in the United States, and 80% of them are mothers.
  • 2.3 million minor children, or 3% of all children in the U.S., have a parent in prison; most under age 10.
  • An estimated 8-10% of women who enter prison are pregnant.

Evernote Camera Roll 20141030 113912Why Books? It’s good for children, and good for mothers in prison who are trying to be involved and supportive parents at a distance. Parents and caretakers need to read with their children, and talk with and listen to them.

  • Literacy increases by 46% when children own books.
  • Grades at school improve.
  • The highest rate of vocabulary development occurs during pre-school years, and it’s a critical time for skill building.
  • Early education and reading are critical in closing the gap in learning for low-income students.Evernote Camera Roll 20141030 114208

This gap impacts children of incarcerated parents, most of whom are low income. In other words, literacy and education are preventative measures on the road to reducing incarceration.

The unPrison Project works to raise awareness about women and girls in prison and mass incarceration in the United States. The facts are too stunning to ignore:

  • The US is 5% of the world population and has 25% of world prisoners.
  • The majority of women in prisons are sentenced for substance-abuse-related, nonviolent crimes.

(Statistics from Dept of Justice, Depts of Corrections, and Bureau of Prisons.)

About the Founder of The unPrison Project:

As its founder and motivational educator, Deborah Jiang-Stein uses her rare story to inspire others for positive change. Her birth in prison, and the road out the other side, led her to establish The unPrison Project using research-based evidence that life skills, literacy, mentoring, and education are tools for success.

Deborah is author of the memoir, Prison Baby, (Beacon Press) described as, “A deeply personal and inspiring memoir recounting one woman’s struggles—beginning with her birth in prison—to find self-acceptance, proving that redemption and healing are possible, even from the darkest corners. A harrowing descent into depression, violence, drugs, and crime, and her torturous climb back out of that emotional imprisonment”to a place of eventual redemption.“

For mailing checks: 

UP with Books/The unPrison Project
8014 Olson Memorial Hwy #153
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55427

Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law. For secure online contributions via PayPal

Thank you for supporting the The unPrison Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

8 thoughts on “UP with Books: Fosters mother-child reading in prison on visiting day

  1. Mollie Wetherall

    Admire the work being done and wish to see if there’s any way I can get involved/volunteer. Please contact me if you get the time!

  2. Diana Morimoto

    this is a great project! for my master’s i wrote and published a children’s book for the children ( i work in a a head start) whom i knew who had parents incarcerated. it is a book that explains what happens to parents in jail, told to the main character by his mommy when he goes to visit her. i often find there are questions and answers are hard to get especially in rural communities.

  3. knightgale

    I have been a “justice advocate” for many years, priority focus is on “children” caught up in the “system”, supporting and sponsor severall imprisoned children, tho being a voice for ALL INjustices, thank you for sharing, more people must get involved to help save people from doom!!

  4. Christopher Beall

    Thank you for your story, it inspired me to send a donation and I am sure it will inspire others to do likewise. Good luck with your journey.

  5. philip bechler

    AMAZING! You are making a difference, I read your story on line today, not sure where I found the story but very moving. Blessings to you for making a difference one person at a time.


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