correctional education, family literacy, incarcerated parents, literacy, reading


In response to rising parental incarceration, some correctional facilities and outside organizations offer family literacy programs for parents in prison. However, research on these correctional education initiatives is scant. This paper uses qualitative data to analyze how 11 fathers in a rural Pennsylvania prison were involved in their children’s literacy, learning, and education before and during incarceration and through the Read to Your Child/Grandchild (RYCG) program. Before RYCG, most fathers had taken steps such as reading to children, teaching reading and math, attending parent-teacher conferences, helping with homework, and singing and rhyming—and then sought to continue supporting their children’s learning from within prison. Fathers used RYCG materials (video-recorded book reading, children’s book, scrapbook) to emphasize the importance of education, literacies, and numeracy. They also created personalized scrapbooks that cultivated their children’s literate abilities and cognitive, academic, and socio-emotional development. This research contributes to the nascent literature on family literacy for incarcerated parents.

Author Bio

Esther Prins is a Professor in the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program at Penn State, where she also serves as Co-Director of the Goodling Institute for Research in Family Literacy and the Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy (ISAL). Her research focuses on sociocultural and critical approaches to adult and family literacy and the role of adult education in social justice.

Tabitha Stickel is a Ph.D. candidate in the Lifelong Learning and Adult Education Program at Penn State and a graduate assistant with the Goodling Institute. She holds an Ed.M. in Adult Learning and Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has taught adult basic education in Arizona.

Dr. Anna Kaiper-Marquez is the Associate Director of Goodling Institute and ISAL and an Assistant Teaching Professor at Penn State. Her research centers on adult basic education (ABE), English language learning, and qualitative methodologies and she has previously taught ABE and ESL both nationally and internationally.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


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