There are many things in life that we have to explain to children and some are often very difficult: death, sex, sexuality, divorce and so on. Somewhere along the line, some brilliant person came up with the idea of creative books that would help parents explain these things to children in a language that they would understand and not make it so frightening to them and take some of the stress off of us (THANK YOU!). Unfortunately, the newest book out there to help parents explain a difficult situation to children is dealing with a father going to jail.
The story is told by the little boy named Sketch who’s father is the one who went to jail. He speaks of what happened the night his father was arrested. Then the police gave his younger sibling a teddy bear to comfort them as they waited for the social worker to come and sit with them until the mother arrived to the father’s apartment to pick them up and take them home. The child asks the police what did his father do and the police responds “we need to speak with him, he may have broken the law” and at the bottom of the page it explains about what laws and rules are and that if you break the law you could possible go to jail. After the mother gets there to pick the children up to go home, she is on the phone most of the night with the police trying to get information. She finds out that dad admitted to breaking the law and will be in jail for a while, but to tell Sketch that he loves him. There is another stat on the bottom of the page regarding percentages of fathers in prisons and mothers in prisons.
Next day Sketch goes to school kids are teasing him because his dad got arrested, he get mad and pushed the books of his classmate on the floor. Off to the counselor’s office he has to go. She called his mother, found out what happened and talked to him about the feelings that he was having at that point. He was angry, sad and scared but she let him know that it was ok to feel that way, whenever he was feeling like just draw or talk to someone that he trusted.
Then they got to go and visit dad in jail by bus and talk to him through a glass on the phone. Sketch was scared to look at him and didn’t know what to say to him and the book says that it is ok that the kids don’t know what to say because it is overwhelming for them at that point. After about four months, the dad was moved to prison and he had to ride the bus and go through the metal detectors. It was scary but they were allowed to hug so it was more comforting to the children. They got a chance to visit their father once a month, talk to him on the phone and send him drawings. The school counselor has a group session of other students who mother or fathers were in prison and they meet weekly and that helps with the transition. Since the father is in prison, the grandmother help take care of the children because the mother has to work more and the social worker has found a mentor to provide a positive male role model in the home.
The end of the book has a glossary of words like arrest, jail, prison and such to help children understand. It is a shame that a book like this has to be published but unfortunately in today’s times it is a necessity.
The is book is available through Amazon in hardback, BN.com, http://www.capstonepub.com and you local public library.