Group of women choosing books to read for children

Storybook Project

Every year LSSI helps children stay connected to their incarcerated moms and dads through Storybook Project. Incarcerated parents choose a donated book and volunteers record them reading the book from prison, while encouraging the parent to end with a special message of love and support. A package with the book and the CD recording is mailed to the children so they may read along. Since this is the only connection many children have with their parent, it is common to hear about them sleeping with the CDs under their pillows.

Storybook Project is totally supported by the generous contributions of over 100 congregations, and many community groups and individuals, and is dependent upon the dedication of 180 Storybook volunteers. These wonderful, caring people love meeting the incarcerated mothers and fathers and helping them to maintain or begin to build loving relationships with their children, through simply reading a book.

Facts about Storybook

  • Many of the original volunteers who began with Storybook in the 1990s are still volunteering. New volunteers are added every month.
  • Over 50,000 children have received books and recordings from their incarcerated parent through Storybook Project since 1997.
  • Annually, 1,000+ newly incarcerated parents become Storybook participants and begin sending book and CD packages to their 2,000+ children.
  • More than 180 volunteers from churches and community groups throughout Illinois assist in recording the readings.
  • Storybook events are held monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly at 16 prisons and jails in Illinois, from Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet to Jackson County Jail in southern Illinois. New correctional sites are added every year.
  • Storybook Project depends upon the generous donations of supporters to pay the $8,000-$10,000 annual postage expense.
  • Many parents who are imprisoned and use the program support the program by donating 50 cents to $1 every few months to help with the postage associated with sending the books and recordings. Although prisoners earn less than $15 a month, several have sent philanthropic gifts of $5 and $10.