Non-profit helps inmates share books with kids during the holidays

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- Stories are coming alive page by page ahead of the Christmas season. With every paragraph read aloud, inmates at the Eau Claire County Jail are putting together Christmas presents to be sent home to their kids. All of it is made possible thanks to the Parents Sharing Books Program offered by non-profit Literacy Chippewa Valley.

Each year, Literacy Chippewa Valley sends volunteers into the Chippewa, Dunn and Eau Claire County Jails to help inmates record themselves reading books to their kids.

“Once they are finished, we put the recording on a CD and send the book, CD and a bookmark to the child for Christmas,” Louise Bentley with Literacy Chippewa Valley explained.

Since the program started in the early 2000's, more than 800 kids have received books and recordings through the program. The non-profit says around 100 books will be distributed to the kids just in time for the holidays this year. For inmates, it’s a small gift that will go a long way.

“It means a lot. I probably wasn't going to have much to give my daughter, but this will mean a lot to me than just any regular gift,” Robert, an inmate at the Eau Claire County Jail said.

“We’re people too and it’s nice to know that people care and help us do this. It's a good experience in a bad situation,” Jake, an inmate at the Eau Claire County Jail added.

While the stories are shared, Literacy Chippewa Valley hopes the gift will mean area kids are encouraged to become readers themselves.

“We have learned that if kids see their parents reading, they are more likely to do that as well,” Bentley said.

Literacy Chippewa Valley says volunteers will be packing the books and the CDs in the coming days and sending them out to kids before Christmas arrives.

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