Please welcome author A. J. Pacquette with a list of ten books featuring kids with incarcerated parents. I was thrilled to meet her! It turns out that we live near each other!
Nowhere Girl by A. J. Pacquette
I had coffee with author Ammi-Joan Paquette but had no idea that NOWHERE GIRL is her middle-grade chapter book. It’s really good but hard to explain … think the movie Midnight Express, you know, the drug smuggler guy in a Turkish prison? Add in a love child. Put mom and child in a prison in Thailand. Girl grows up in jail and mom dies when she’s 13. She has no idea who her father is. Now she’s free to go and has to figure it out. That’s where the book begins!!! Oh yeah, her mom is American. Her father too.
One thing about childhood: it’s not an automatic protection from the tougher side of life. To help kids make sense of some of those darker elements, here are 10 titles that feature kids whose parents are in prison. Ranging from the very young to teenagers, this list can act as a resource for readers of all ages.
I’m also doing a giveaway of Nowhere Girl by A. J. Paquette. Please use the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter. What are your favorite books about incarcerated parents?
p.s. If you want to support a charities that helps children of incarcerated moms, please check out Women’s Storybook Project, UnPrison Project, and OK Messages.
10 Books Featuring Kids with Incarcerated Parents
Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by James E. Ransome
The moving story of a young girl and her grandmother preparing for their monthly trip to visit the girl’s father in prison. Award-winning and gorgeously illustrated. [picture book, ages 5-7]
Mama Loves Me from Far Away by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Laurie Caple
The gentle story of a young girl’s relationship with her absent mother (though the word “prison” is not explicitly used), focusing on the bond they share despite being apart. [picture book, ages 5-8]
Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart by Vera B Williams
A mix of poetry and illustrations telling the story of two bright, self-sufficient girls, who are more than able to care for themselves despite their working mother and incarcerated father. [chapter book, ages 7 and up]
Jakeman by Deborah Ellis
Aspiring artist Jake and his teen sister undertake a bus ride to visit their mother in prison, but when they run into trouble along the way, Jake’s illustrated alter-ego is forced to come and save the day. [chapter book, ages 8-12]
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
Eleven-year-old Perry has grown up living with his mother inside the Blue River Co-Ed Correctional Facility when he is suddenly forced to leave and become acclimated to the outside world. [chapter book, ages 8-11]
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The moving story of twelve-year-old tough girl Carley Connors, who is placed with a new foster family when she goes to jail and her mother is in the hospital. But this family is different from what she’s come to expect and will lead her to the biggest decision of her life. [chapter book, ages 9-12]
Nowhere Girl by A. J. Paquette
Thirteen-year-old Luchi has lived her whole life in the remote prison in Thailand where she was born. Her mother’s unexpected death forces her into the outside world, with no information about her family or her mother’s past. She must journey across the country and piece together the clues to reclaim both her past and her future. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
The Same Stuff as Stars by Katherine Paterson
Abandoned by her unstable mother and incarcerated father, eleven-year-old Angel finds herself living with her oblivious great-grandmother, which leaves the care of her little brother entirely on Angel’s shoulders. A moving story about family and friendship and perseverance in the face of life’s greatest challenges. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
Ruby on the Outside by Norah Raleigh Baskin
Eleven-year-old Ruby doesn’t tell anyone her deepest, darkest secret: her mother is in jail. When she makes a new friend, Ruby struggles with the decision of whether or not to tell her the truth—only to discover that her new friend might be entangled in Ruby’s family’s past in a deeper way than she ever expected. [chapter book, ages 10 and up]
An Uninterrupted View of the Sky by Melanie Crowder
Available in June of 2017! Set in 1999 Bolivia. When seventeen-year-old Francisco’s father is arrested on false charges, his mother takes off, leaving Francisco and his sister to move into the dangerous and corrupt prison alongside their father. [young adult, ages 12 and up]
Nowhere Girl Giveaway!
Please use the Rafflecopter below to enter. I can only mail to U.S. addresses due to the high cost of shipping.
p.s. A new addition to this list is A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontorvat
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontorvat
Les Miserables meets Thai fantasy in this epic adventure of redemption. My review is below. This is not to be missed! [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
17 thoughts on “10 Books Featuring Kids with Incarcerated Parents”
Knock, Knock is a favorite. But, I’m especially pleased to see a larger list of books for kids with incarcerated parents. So important.
We at MCBD recently found this organization that provides free books to kids of incarcerated mothers. They read together when they visit their mom in jail and then they get to keep the book. Must be so tough to have a mother in jail for the kids. Fathers too, but it kills me to think of moms in jail and their kids missing them.
I love Knock Knock too, Patricia! It’s so powerful. If you haven’t yet seen Beaty read and perform it, you must too check that out.
Go, Joan!! And thanks Mia for featuring Joan here 🙂
What a great list – and can I add another book by Deborah Ellis – I Am A Taxi is a fantastic book!
Who is this book by, I am looking for a good set of books for my stepson.
Romar Jones Takes a Hike is an interesting book.
Thank you so much for the shout-out for NOWHERE GIRL, Mia! It was really great to connect in person like that 🙂
Tragically there are great numbers of children who have incarcerated family members. This is an important list
It’s so sad! I hope this list helps. We, at MCBD, also donate to OK Messages http://okmessagesproject.org/about/ . They provide books to kids to read with their incarcerated moms. It makes us to happy to send them books!
My favorite book with incarcerated parents is “The Railway Children” by E.F. Benson.
I read a great YA novel with this theme last year, but I can’t remember the title and it’s actually been driving me nuts for a while! I haven’t read any of the books on your list – time to change that. Thanks for the recommendation.
I’m so curious now about that YA book 🙂 Not that I read much YA these days.
I read Nowhere Girl-what a wonderful book! Thanks for being part of the #DiverseKidlit linkup!
Thanks so much Becky! Nowhere Girl is one of my finds of the year!
What a tough time some children have with issues like this. I had a student who suffered so in this situation and wish I had known there were books like this at the time! Thanks. Sharing online.
Hazelnut Days is a new powerful picture book that I just read on this topic.