Dear Dad: Love, Nelson: The Story of One Boy and His Incarcerated Father (Hardcover)
Dear Dad: Love, Nelson is a glimpse into the life, family, struggles, hopes, and questions of Nelson—and the more than five million other children in the US who have experienced parental incarceration. Told through letters he writes his father, Nelson shares his feelings, thoughts, wishes, and happenings, from the celebrations they've had to the progress Nelson has made on the car they were fixing to how excited he is to have Dad coming home.
The author, who's had several family members impacted by the criminal legal system, was inspired to write this warm and inviting story to build awareness of parental incarceration and increase empathy for people who have an incarcerated loved one. Dear Dad: Love, Nelson is told in Nelson's vibrant, curious, and compassionate voice, with his love for his dad and his family shining through.
Dear Dad: Love, Nelson can open doors of conversation about many significant topics, including:
- different emotional responses to parental incarceration
- the school-to-prison pipeline
- differences in celebrations without a parent
- the importance of keeping in contact
- the expectations of the court and the experience of visitation
- the anticipation of reentry
A section at the back of the book offers discussion questions for exploring the story and the topic with children, along with more information on guiding children to write letters as a way of staying in touch with an incarcerated loved one.
Margarett McBride, M.A., is a Developmental Psychology Ph.D. candidate who resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas but is proudly from Saginaw, Michigan.
Margarett has had several family members impacted by the criminal legal system and uses her work to uplift the experiences of marginalized people. During her undergraduate experience, she cofacilitated arts-based workshops for formerly incarcerated people through the Prison Creative Arts Project in Michigan.
Currently, she is an instructor for an “Introduction to Psychology” college course where she teaches people who are incarcerated through the UNC Correctional Education Program. Through her research, she studies how neighborhood experiences influence Black youth and family well-being and development.
Margarett also loves creating art through her business, Made By Margarett, LLC, volunteering at community festivals, and working with organizations to help them increase a sense of belonging for the community members.
David Wilkerson is a Black American illustrator who was born in Denver, Colorado, and is currently based in Maryland. He believes that there is healing in storytelling, and that it is the job of creatives to contribute to that cause.
His career began in the animation industry, working as a character designer, prop designer, and background designer. He’s worked as a designer on various projects for clients such as Hulu, Cartoon Network, Springhill Company, FOX Sports, and FUSE.
David developed a love for illustration during his time at the Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to music, he was heavily influenced by illustrators like Ronald Wimberly, Justin Bua, Joe Madureira, Kevin Dart, Gyimah Gariba, and Scott Wills.
David believes that creation itself is what we live in, and he’s spent the last 20+ years creating the most authentic version of himself possible.?
— Shaka Senghor, founder of Redeemed Sole, New York Times best-selling author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison and Letters to the Sons of Society
“Dear Dad: Love, Nelson thoughtfully portrays the love and struggle of various members of a family separated by incarceration. This book has a beautiful way of helping young people feel connected to other children and families as they deal with their own confusion and pain in encountering courts and prisons. Dear Dad: Love, Nelson is a much-needed resource for families with loved ones in prisons and jails, and this book should be made available in schools, public libraries, and bookstores throughout the United States.”
— Ashley Lucas, professor and former director of the Prison Creative Arts Project, University of Michigan
“I was astounded at the power of Margarett McBride’s epistolary picture book when she shared it in my children’s book class. She had me from the first letter when, with youthful language, she captured the innocent, sincere perspective of young Nelson. In a few short sentences, readers understand his animated take on family members, his longing for his father, and his questioning nature. Over the next ten months, Nelson’s periodic letters show readers changes in his relationship with words, his father’s Chevy, his increased understanding of the court system and imprisonment, and finally, the joy he shows as he prepares for his father’s return. Letter by letter Nelson wins reader’s compassion and gratitude as he becomes a realistic and positive model for the children of incarcerated parents who need him.”
— Susie Wilde, M.Ed., Igniting Writing
“Dear Dad: Love, Nelson is a love story that too many of our children have to experience every day as a result of our country’s love of incarceration. Dear Dad: Love, Nelson shows us that no distance and no bars can stop a child from loving their father—love will always find a way. To those with loved ones behind bars, please share this book with their children so they can see how they can love their family even while they are apart.”
— Anthony Smith, executive director of Cities United