“Book ’Em” Redefined: Prison Libraries

We’re still marveling over the recent announcement about the Redemption Through Reading program that would give prison inmates in Brazil a chance to reduce their sentences by reading books. They’d have to choose books from a recommended reading list (makes sense), and they’d have to write book reports on what they read (all right), and those reports would have to reflect proper grammar and spelling (yes!). The reading list has yet to be determined, but plenty of folks have speculated on what should be included. (Insert Crime and Punishment jokes here—you definitely won’t be the first.)

The announcement from Brazil also shines a light on a subject that probably isn’t discussed often enough: the importance of prison libraries.

People in prison read. Sometimes they read a lot. Sometimes the prison library is the first library they ever visit in their lives.

Brooks Hatlen Memorial Prison Library T-shirtIf you’re flashing on the library scenes in The Shawshank Redemption, that’s understandable. If those thoughts make you want to donate new or lightly used books to a prison library in your area here’s a list of a few prison library programs in the U.S. that accept donations.


Something to think about next time you’re wishing for all the time in the world to read the books in your TBR pile.

Supercool tee via Mari-Janes.

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