Resources for Caregivers of Children with Incarcerated Parents

Having a parent incarcerated (in jail/prison/detention) is a difficult and confusing situation for children. They are faced with grief, changes in caregivers, and possibly trauma. Caring for these youth presents a variety of challenges that may be difficult to understand. The right book can help to facilitate difficult conversations and open opportunities for sharing and understanding feelings about having an incarcerated parent.

Below is a short list of some children’s books that may aid in these difficult conversations. These books tell unique stories of children dealing with the grief, frustration, and confusion of losing a parent to the prison system. In some books the child has the opportunity to visit the parent, and some books even conclude with the parent’s return from incarceration.

Ages 4-9

  • A Visit to the Big House by Oliver Butterworth

  • Daddy’s Big House by Corey Beauford

  • Doogie’s Dad by Richard W. Dyches

  • Kennedy’s Big Visit by Daphne Brooks

  • Kofi’s Mom by Richard W. Dyches

  • Mama Loves Me from Away by Pat Brisson

  • My Dad is in Jail by Amber M. Ryan

  • Nine Candles by Maria Testa

  • The Night Dad Went to Jail: What to Expect When Someone You Love Goes to Jail by Melissa Higgins

  • What Do I Say About That? Coping with an Incarcerated Parent by Julia Cook

  • When Andy’s Father Went to Prison by Martha Whitmore Hickman

  • When Dad Was Away by Liz Weir

  • Visiting Day by Jacqueline Woodson

Ages 10+

  • Jakeman by Deborah Ellis

  • Ruby on the Outside by Nora Raleigh Baskin

  • What Will Happen To Me? By Howard Zehr and Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz discusses a number of resources for parents, caregivers and professionals serving children and families.

This guide was developed as part of a project made possible by a Grant from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.  The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

Lead researcher/author: Ricardo Vidal, J.D. Candidate, 2019, Legal Intern