La Salle student writes children's book about what kids go through when a parent goes to prison

Kim Glovas
February 02, 2020 - 4:00 am
Rebecca Smith holding her book, "Does He Still Love Me?"

Courtesy of La Salle University

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A La Salle University student took a hard look at what a child goes through when a parent is incarcerated and then wrote a book about it.  

A couple years ago, Rebecca Smith, a senior at La Salle, took a service learning course at SCI Graterford and got to know some of the inmates. 

She learned that it's hard to be a parent when your children are on the outside. She also interviewed fellow students at La Salle who had a parent in jail while they were growing up. 

"They couldn't figure out why their parent was in prison, and a lot of that had to do with their parents not being completely transparent about what had happened, as opposed to something like, 'your Dad's going away,' and that's it," she said. 

Smith's book, "Does He Still Love Me?" shares the story of Thomas, a boy whose father goes to prison when he is in preschool and returns when he is well into elementary school. 

The book details how Thomas doesn't have a father to take to "Take Dad to School Day." He doesn't have a father to coach his baseball team, or a father to walk him to the bus stop on the first day of school.

Smith surveyed public school teachers in Philadelphia, who said in a class of 35, about seven students have an incarcerated parent. 

And, Smith noted this is not just common for urban areas.  

"There are children's books about how to explain the loss of a pet, but nothing really about how to explain the prison system as we know it in the United States," she added. 

Smith hopes this becomes an extra resource for parents whose children are going through this experience. But, a conversation between parent and child is also important, she said. 

Her book goes on sale on Amazon in a few weeks. All proceeds go to a halfway house in her hometown in Indiana.