Book By Its Cover
“Every good story has a problem,” explains Flo Stack, a former reading specialist who founded Turning Pages, a literacy and family reunification program for fathers who are incarcerated at the Baltimore County Detention Center (BCDC) and their families. Across the United States, right now, 2.7 million children have a parent who's incarcerated. In addition to the anxiety from being separated, financial and childcare strains can cause the loss of a home or car, the need to move or change schools, resulting in further destabilization for the family. And for the children whose dads are inmates at the BCDC, there are few opportunities to have contact visitation with them. In general, interaction is through glass – until Turning Pages provided the opportunity for fathers and their children to read together in a shared physical space, hugging each other, and doing crafts. Through a series of fathers’ workshops, the dads learn the importance of reading to children, how to pick out appropriate reading-level books, how to use stories as a gateway to life discussions, and how to use inflection to make the stories more dynamic to their listening children. And through the alternating family nights, the fathers are able to reassure their children and reinforce their role as parents. The “Book By Its Cover” documentary follows the experience of fathers as they participate in the Turning Pages program, detail what led to their incarceration, share how it feels to be separated from their families, and tell how this program is making a difference in their lives as they look to the future. The full film can be seen here.