Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family When a Loved One is Incarcerated by Becky Birtha, illustrated by Maja Kastelic

Published by Albert Whitman and Co.

Summary:  What does it feel like to have a parent in jail, and how do you deal with those feelings?  The children in this book all react differently to their parents’ incarceration.  They feel scared, angry, and confused.  One girl wonders if it was her fault her mom went to jail.  A boy’s mom begs him not to tell anyone about his dad, so he stops talking altogether.  Another girl’s family is torn apart when her mom gets arrested and sent to jail, just like her dad.  Kids are encouraged to share their feelings with other adults in their lives, and to try to stay in touch with their incarcerated parents through visits, or, if that’s not possible, phone calls and letters.  One mom writes to assure her daughter that, “You and I may be far apart, but you’re always close to me in heart.”  Includes an author’s note and tips for adults from the National Resource Center on Children and Families of the Incarcerated.  32 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A useful and engaging book to help kids feel more accepting of having a parent in prison, and to learn how to deal with their feelings about it.

Cons:  With nine kids featured, there were a lot of people to keep track of in such a short book.

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