Texas Non-Profit Connects Incarcerated Mothers and Children Through Reading

The Women's Storybook Project of Texas is trying to connect incarcerated mothers with their children through the power of reading

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"A mother's voice is as strong as a hug," Storybook Project Executive Director Jill Gonzalez said. "Children... need to hear from their mom."

The Storybook Project sends volunteers into prisons to record mothers reading books to their children. The non-profit serves about 11% of the incarcerated mothers in Texas, with a goal of increasing that to 20% this year.

"I was searching for anything that would help bring a bond between me and my children," former inmate Angelica Zaragoza said. "I knew if they could at least hear my voice that I could reach out to them and tell them that I was truly sorry."

Zaragoza spent 14-years in and out of prison for addiction-related crimes; time away from her four children.

"I got those books at a very important time," Andrew Noriega said. "I vividly remember her reading me the Magic Treehouse storyline."

Noriega is Zaragoza's oldest son. He was about 8-years-old when his mom went to prison.

"It's like you can close you eyes and imagine your mother there with you," Noriega said, remembering listening to the tapes of his mother reading. "Like I was hurting with her, and I loved that. I loved that I could sit there and cry with her on that recording."

Noriega is now a young adult. He will graduate from Texas Tech this year and hopes to have a career counseling addicts and helping children like he was.

The Storybook Project hopes to raise $75,000 through a live virtual fundraiser on April 29. Zaragoza will be one of the featured speakers. You can find more information here.

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