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Children with a Parent in Prison

Featured Books in this Category / Main Booklist

Featured Books

The Best Interests of Children: an Evidence-Based Approach. Paul Millar, $24.95

The best interest of the child is an overriding principle in all matters of family law, especially in child custody cases. THE BEST INTERESTS OF CHILDREN links social theory with survey data to establish much-needed parameters for determining a child's best interest. It provides important criteria for determining the best interest of the child and concludes that the role of law in the lives of children must be to preserve their connections with those that love them.


In the Shadow of Prison: Families, Imprisonment and Criminal Justice. Helen Codd, $45.95

This book provides an up-to-date, accessible introduction to the relationship between families, prisons and penal policies and explores current debates in relation to prisoners and their families, and introduces the reader to relevant theoretical approaches. Interdisciplinary in nature, the book incorporates perspectives drawn from criminology, sociology, social work and law.


Jakeman. Deborah Ellis, $11.95 (novel, pre-teen)

Jake and his sister Shoshona have been in foster care since their single mother was arrested three years before. Both have found their own ways to cope: Shoshona has become a bossy mother figure; Jake, who is a budding comic book artist, has created an alter ego named Jakeman. Four times a year Jake and his sister take the long overnight journey through New York State to visit their mother in jail - along with an assortment of nervous, angry, and damaged kids on the way to visit their own mothers.

But this trip will be like no other trip they've ever taken.

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My Daddy is in Jail: Story, Discussion Guide & Small Group Activities for Grades K to 5. Janet Bender, $16.95

My Daddy is in Jail offers professionals and caregivers resources for providing information and support in helping young children cope with the incarceration of a loved one.


The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail. Melissa Higgins, illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan, $10.95 (ages 4-8)

Itís tough when someone you love goes to jail. But thanks to the school counselor, and a box of crayons, this little rabbit who loves to draw learns how to make it through the scary, sad, and mad times.†


Parents Who Misuse Drugs and Alcohol: Effective Interventions in Social Work and Child Protection. Donald Forrester & Judith Harwin, $54.95

This insightful book presents original research outlining the key elements in responding to parental misuse of drugs and alcohol:

  • Offers a definition of "misuse" and "addiction" and the factors that influence the nature of misuse or addiction
  • Reviews extensively the nature and impact of parental substance misuse on children and families using the latest evidence
  • Explores how research and theories might help inform professionals or non-professionals assessing families affected by parents who misuse drugs or alcohol
  • Provides an in-depth discussion of Motivational Interviewing, including a critical discussion of the challenges and limitations involved in using it in child and family settings
  • Considers the wider implications of the findings for practice and policy and argues that these responses can be used across the field of work with vulnerable children and their families

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Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists Jodie Lawston &  Ashley Lucas, Editors, $80.00

From the vantage points of those both inside and outside of prisons, this collection of essays and art illuminates many of the distinct experiences and concerns of incarcerated women, including abuse and rape; the policing of women; incarcerated motherhood; mental health issues in prisons; incarcerated women's artistic and cultural production; and prisons' impact on families, health, and sexuality. Combining the transcendence, hope, and clarity of art with powerful analytical and conceptual tools, RAZOR WIRE WOMEN reveals the gendered dimensions of incarceration.


Understanding and Working with Parents of Children in Long-Term Foster Care. Gillian Schofield & Emma Ward, $40.95

For children growing up in foster care, the role of their birth parents is an important factor in the success of their long-term placements. Understanding the experiences of parents is essential in developing effective practice with parents that can also ensure the best possible outcomes for children.

Drawing on detailed interviews with parents, the book takes a chronological approach, starting with their accounts of family life before their children were taken into care. It goes on to explore their experiences of court and then how they seek to come to terms with their loss, sustain an identity as a parent and manage a relationship with their children. Parents' views on what they find valuable and helpful in relationships with foster carers and social workers are also discussed. The book then draws on the views of social workers on the opportunities and challenges of supporting parents, while also remaining child-focused. The authors set out a model of good practice, based on the lessons learned from the experiences of these parents and social workers.


War on the Family: Mothers in Prison and the Families They Leave Behind. Renny Golden, $45.95

Renowned criminologist and activist Renny Golden sheds light on the women behind bars and the 350,000 children they leave behind. In exposing the fastest growing prison population, Golden sets up new framework for thinking about how to address the situation of mothers in prison, the risks and needs of their children and the implications of current judicial policies.

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“What Will Happen to Me?” Howard Zehr, Lorraine Stutsman Amstutz, $14.95

What is life like for a child who has a parent in prison? This book brings together photographic portraits of 30 children whose parents are incarcerated, along with their thoughts and reflections, in their own words. This compassionate and eye-opening book includes:

  • Reflections of several grandparents who are unexpectedly parenting children whose parents are incarcerated
  • Ten questions often asked by children with a parent in prison
  • Dealing with Emotions — including grief and loss, shame and stigma, anger and isolation
  • Resources for staying in touch, finding moments of celebration, adjusting to a parent’s return,  and self-care for caregivers
  • “The Children’s Bill of Rights,” along with thoughtful consideration about how to apply restorative justice and respect for relationships in these difficult situations

When Dad Was Away. Liz Weir & Karin Littlewood, $21.50

This is a gentle and sensitive story showing how one family comes through a difficult time of separation, by an author and illustrator who have extensive experience of working with prisoners and their families.


Wish You Were Here: Teens Write about Parents in Prison. Autumn Spanne, Nora McCarthy & Laura Longhine, Editors, $19.95

These stories describe how teens kept in touch with their parents (or didn't) and the complicated feelings that come with reunification.

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Complete Booklist

Resources for Families and Service Providers

All Alone in the World: Children of the Incarcerated. Nell Bernstein, $31.95

Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart. Vera Williams, $23.95 (ages 8-12)

Attachment, Trauma and Healing: Understanding and Treating Attachment Disorder in Children and Families. Terry Levy & Michael Orlans, $37.95

The Best Interests of Children: an Evidence-Based Approach. Paul Millar, $24.95

Building a Home Within: Meeting the Emotional Needs of Children and Youth in Foster Care. Toni Vaughn Heineman & Diane Whrensaft, $29.95

Child Development for Child Care and Protection Workers. Brigid Daniel et al, $39.95

Children with Parents in Prison: Child Welfare Policy, Program & Practice Issues. Cynthia Seymour & Creasie Hairston, $39.95

Finding the Right Spot: When Kids Can't Live with Their Parents. Janice Levy, $11.95 (ages 6-12)

Foster Placements: Why They Succeed and Why They Fail. Ian Sinclair, Kate Wilson & Ian Gibbs, $42.95

Help for the Hard Times: Getting through Loss. Earl Hipp, $17.50 (ages 12 and up)

Imprisoned Fathers and their Children. Gwyneth Boswell & Peter Wedge, $38.95

In the Shadow of Prison: Families, Imprisonment and Criminal Justice. Helen Codd, $45.95

Jakeman. Deborah Ellis, $11.95 (novel, pre-teen)

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Loving through Bars: Children with Parents in Prison. Cynthia Martone, $27.95

My Daddy is in Jail. Janet Bender, $16.95 (ages 5-11)

The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail. Melissa Higgins, illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan, $10.95 (ages 4-8)

Parents Who Misuse Drugs and Alcohol: Effective Interventions in Social Work and Child Protection. Donald Forrester & Judith Harwin, $54.95

Razor Wire Women: Prisoners, Activists, Scholars, and Artists Jodie Lawston &  Ashley Lucas, Editors, $80.00

Understanding and Working with Parents of Children in Long-Term Foster Care.Gillian Schofield & Emma Ward, $40.95

War on the Family: Mothers in Prison and the Families They Leave Behind. Renny Golden, $45.95

"What Will Happen to Me?" Howard Zehr, Lorraine Stutsman Amstutz, $14.95

When Dad Was Away. Liz Weir & Karin Littlewood, $21.50

Wish You Were Here: Teens Write about Parents in Prison. Autumn Spanne, Nora McCarthy & Laura Longhine, Editors, $19.95

When Father Kills Mother: Guiding Children through Trauma and Grief. Jean Harris-Hendriks, et al, $38.50

Working with Children and Families Separated by Incarceration: a Handbook for Child Welfare Agencies. Lois Wright & Cynthia Seymour, $29.95

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Related booklists: Children & Youth in Care/Child Welfare;† Parent Education & Support; Addiction; Domestic Violence;

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