Prisoners reading to their children and grandchildren from behind bars

A service that records women prisoners reading stories for their children and grandchildren from jail could be expanded nationwide.

The programme at Wellington's Arohata Prison aims to keep families connected and reduce reoffending.

A prisoner told Newshub she imagines her grandchildren are cuddled up next to her as she reads. "When you're reading them you can get a little bit tearful," she says.

Before being locked up at Arohata last year she loved reading to her first grandchild. She said one of the worst things has been having no voice contact with them, but's she's been able to continue storytelling behind bars.

About 80 prisoners have taken part in the programme and organisers are keen to expand the service to other prisons. There's plenty of scope - right now about 20,000 children in New Zealand have a parent in prison.

Organiser and Victoria University lecturer Kerryn Palmer says the service helps to keep families together and ensures they're better prepared for life on the outside.

"We have some lovely stories about the one boy who always listens every night to the stories in the bath he always puts his mum's cd on before he goes to bed," she says.

While the prisoner we spoke to, who we couldn't identify, is grateful for the service she knows it's doesn't compared to the real thing - a story and a cuddle with the grandkids.