Printable or Online resources

ChIPS Storybook Series by Katelen Fortunati

Ages 4-11. Each of these short stories is told from the point of view of one child who has a particular family situation and challenge to overcome related to parental incarceration. At the end of the story are two coloring pages for the child reader to write and illustrate his or her own story. In the back of the book, a guide for caregivers suggests ways to engage children in reading and talking about the story and helping them draw parallels to their own situations and challenges. Publisher: Safer Society Press, 2016

Sesame Street Little Children BIG Challenges: Incarceration Toolkit

Ages 3-7. The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers. It can bring about big changes and transitions. In simple everyday ways, you can comfort your child and guide her through these tough moments. With your love and support she can get through anything that comes her way. Here are some tools to help you with the changes your child is going through.


What is Jail, Mommy? by Jackie A. Stanglin

Ages 4-8 Inspired by a five-year-old whose father has been incarcerated most of her life. One day after visiting with friends who have both parents in the home, the little girl blurted out to her mother in frustration, “What is jail anyway, and why can’t Daddy be home with us?” Publisher: Lifevest Publishing, Inc., 2006 Spanish version available, Mami, Que Es una Carcel?

A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret M. Holmes

Ages 4 – 7. Sherman Smith saw the most terrible thing happen. At first he tried to forget about it, but something inside him started to bother him. He felt nervous and had bad dreams. This is a wonderful book for teachers or parents to use with younger children who have witnessed or experienced violence and trauma. Publisher: Magination Press, 2000.

Families Change: A Book for Children Experiencing Termination of Parental Rights by Julie Nelson

Ages 4-10. All families change over time. Straightforward words and full-color illustrations offer hope and support for children facing or experiencing caregiving changes. Includes resources and information for birth parents, foster parents, social workers, counselors, and teachers. Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing, 2006.

Knock Knock, My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty

Ages 4-7. A father and son share a special bond and then one day dad does not come home and no one talks about it. Later, the son receives a letter from dad. Their special relationship continues. Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

Let’s Talk About When Your Parent is in Jail by Maureen K. Wittbold

Ages 8-11. This book takes kids through the stages of a parent’s incarceration to help them understand and deal with their thoughts, fears and other feelings. This book offers well organized, truthful, and easy to understand explanations about the various aspects of having a parent in jail. Publisher: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc., 1998

My Daddy is in Jail by Janet M. Bender

Ages 5- 11. A Resource for helping children cope with the incarceration of a loved one. It includes a read-aloud story, discussion guide, caregiver suggestions and optional small group counseling activities. Publisher: YouthLight, Inc., 2003

Romar Jones Takes a Hike by Jan Walker

Young Adult. When his 9th grade language arts teacher tells him to pay attention to the poetry assignment or take a hike, Romar opts for the hike, walks out of Roseburg Oregon High School and embarks on a journey to find his mother. She’s in prison in Washington. Publisher: Pilcata Press, 2012.

The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgins

Ages 6 – 12. When someone you love goes to jail, you might feel lost, scared, and even mad. What do you do? No matter who your loved one is, this story can help you through the tough times.

The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson

Ages 8-12. Eleven-year-old Angel Morgan, despite her youth, is the head of her family. With a father in jail for robbery and murder, and Verna, her mother, too preoccupied with herself to care for anyone else, Angel looks out for her seven-year-old brother. She keeps a house key around her neck and taxi money in her sock, “just in case.” Publisher: Harper Collins, 2004.

Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson

Ages 4 – 8 A young girl and her grandmother make the long bus trip every month to visit the girl’s father in prison. On the ride they share food and hope and give comfort to others who make the trip with them. Publisher: Scholastic Press, 2002

What Will Happen to Me? by Howard Zehr

Young Adult. True stories and photos of children who have a parent in prison or jail. Publisher: Good Books, 2011