Portrait of the Incarcerated Woman as a Reading Mother: Revealing the Perceived Outcomes of a Shared Reading Program
Each year, 25 000 Canadian children will not share a bedtime story with their mother because their mother is incarcerated. For many families, contact with their incarcerated mother is rare. The separation caused by maternal incarceration can disrupt the attachment bond, create physical and mental health problems, and lead to increased anxiety, depression, loneliness, and isolation. To ameliorate some of these detrimental effects, organizations are delivering programs that allow incarcerated mothers to maintain and strengthen relationships with their children. Read aloud programs are among them. This thesis explores the outcomes of a read aloud program for incarcerated women and their children, from the perspective of those who participated. Six interviews were conducted with former participants of the program and 94 letters from participating families were read. Findings reveal how a shared reading program can provide meaningful mother-child contact, strengthen relationships, encourage love of reading, foster positive identity, and nurture resilience.