“Frozen? What’s that about? Would a second-grade girl like the story?” The innocuous question revealed a wealth of information about the woman standing before me. For starters, she must be pretty isolated not to know about the highest grossing animated film of all time. Second, she’s been outta the loop for quite a while: Disney introduced Anna and Elsa back in 2013. The most important takeaway, however, is that she cares about whether or not a young girl would enjoy the story.
Over the next couple of hours, I record women as they read — everything from The Babysitters Club to Love You Forever — into a recording device. Before starting, each woman opens with a personal message about how she misses and loves the recipient of the book: “enjoy the story, I miss you,” “hope to see you soon,” and “momma thinks of you every day.”
The last woman I record thanks me for spending a Saturday with her, and she praises the volunteers I’m working with, “it it’s so, so nice what the Between the Lines people do for Shakopee.”
Between the Lines is a volunteer-driven committee run by the Junior League of Minneapolis. The mission of Between the Lines is to promote literacy and help incarcerated mothers//caretakers connect with their children.
Want behind the scenes information about the committee? Four times a year, members bring books, tape recorders, and stationary to the Shakopee Correctional Facility. The committee helps mothers do three things: 1) select an age appropriate book for their child 2) create a recording of the mother reading out loud, and 3) write a short note to their child. A couple weeks later, at a ‘wrap party,’ Between the Lines members package and send the books, recordings, and personal letters to the children of participating mothers.
Between the Lines was established in 2010, and the organization has helped nearly 700* children connect with an incarcerated caregiver through reading. To get involved or learn more about the committee, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Post contributed by Jennifer Prod