Three years ago, a group of us at Friends of Castlemaine Library started 'Read - Along Dads' at nearby Loddon prison. Loddon is home to hundreds of low and medium security prisoners from all across Victoria.
We wanted to assist with their rehabilitation; help their relationship as fathers to their children; and, stimulate their children's literacy skills at the same time.
How it works
We provide the children with a recording of their dad reading them a book. Both the recording and a copy of the book itself are sent to the child who can listen to their parent's voice whilst reading or looking at their book.
As one dad said to us about the program:
'It's hard to explain the feeling I get out of it when I know that at night, I'm the last voice he hears before he goes to bed'.
And we have loads of similar feedback.
We started this program as a one off but it was so well received by the prison, the dads, and especially the kids - we've kept it going. It's more work than you'd imagine - liaising with the prison, selecting the books, recording the prisoners, editing the audio files, and sending them to the kids.
The problem is that recently, the numbers of prisoners has doubled to around 800 with the completion of new facilities. We are struggling to find the funds to buy the books and keep recording, let alone involve hundreds more dads and their kids.
So we're hoping you might chip in
With $15, we can buy an age-appropriate quality book, such as the Charlie and Lola series. (We love picking out the books but we would also welcome your suggestions).
$60 will cover the costs involved in recording a dad reading a book and making the recording to send to their child.
$200 is the full package - book, recording, CD, and postage for a child to receive three book and recording sets over a year from their father, to hear his voice.
The main perk is knowing a child and father are connecting through stories and reading.
But also, we'd love to send everyone who donates more than $30 a special Castlemaine Library bookmark and a card as a small gesture of thanks. We made them ourselves!
Who’s behind this campaign
Friends of Castlemaine Library (FOCAL) has been supporting our local library for almost twenty years through fundraising, lobbying for better services, and organising community programs.
Early childhood literacy is a special focus of our group. Six years ago we started "Books for Babies" which continues to gift a book, special library bag and guidance on reading to young children, to every family with a new baby in our community. "Read-Along Dads" is our latest and biggest project to date.