A Children’s Book Author…Who Happens to be Incarcerated
Date:  11-26-2014

Anthony Tinsman hopes his message will help young children find a different path than he did
One of life’s simplest pleasures is reading a good book, and reading to children is a joy in itself. Studies have shown that children who are introduced to reading at an early age often excel in school later in their lives.

Recently Reentry Central received an interesting letter from Anthony Tinsman which promoted his book “The Hungry Robot.”

Tinsman wrote that The Hungry Robot “…was inspired by real life transformation and finding direction, two important messages considering the difficult task parents face in teaching obedience to their children and convincing them that they can practice what they preach after prison. Parents know that small connections make each moment count, and nothing works like the written word, unless there are colorful pictures.”

Tinsman realizes being a parent is a tough job, made so much tougher if one is incarcerated. Tinsman, as well as being an author, is also one of the 2.3 people behind bars in American prisons. Tinsman is locked up in the Federal Prison Complex located in Forrest City, Arkansas (FCFCC). He has served ten years of a 35 year sentence for armed bank robbery.

FCFCC’s education department runs a newly reopened parenting program as part of its Adult Continuing Education (ACE) program. Once a participant in the parenting program completes the course he is allowed special visiting privileges. Tinsman writes that these privileges allow a father to see his children on weekends from 8 a.m to 3 pm., a rare treat made even more special because children sometimes have to travel over 500 miles to visit. Father and child are allowed to connect with each other by doing things not ordinarily allowed in a regular visit.

As can be imagined, there is a long list of fathers waiting to become involved in the program and receive these special visits from their children. Unfortunately, Tinsman relates, space in the program is limited, literally. There is not enough space in the classroom to serve all those who want to attend.

One of the ways those fortunate enough to have completed the class interact with their children is through reading to, and with, them. Perhaps this closeness is what inspired Tinsman to begin his rehabilitative process. By drawing on his less than stellar experiences before he was incarcerated. Tinsman crafted a story about a hungry robot, a symbol of the thirst for material things that can lead a person to a life of crime. Of course, Tinsman wrote the story of The Hungry Robot with children in mind. It was written for children three to five years old, but according to reviews on Amazon, the illustrations are colorful, and it may appeal to younger children. The Hungry Robot is only available on Amazon in e-book form, downloadable with Kindle, or with a free Kindle app. It costs $2.99. Tinsman hopes that people buy the book for their children, and would like to continue writing a series of children’s books.

In his letter Tinsman quoted Frederick Douglas who said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Perhaps broken men can be repaired, in some cases, by writing books for children. We hope that this is the case for Tinsman.