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"Books Through Bars: Stories from the Prison Books Movement" Released March 15

"Books Through Bars" is a ground-breaking book about the groups and individuals who have organized around the principle that all people have the right to choose their own paths for intellectual development, and acted on that principle by sending incarcerated people free books on the topics of their choice. The editors have compiled essays from 25 long-time activists in this space. You’ll learn about the practical challenges, the endless struggle against the prison-industrial complex, and the moments of joy that sustain them.

Over 50 nonprofit groups currently do this work around the US. Books to Prisoners was one of the first. You'll recognize two of the contributors to “Books Through Bars”, BtP veterans Michelle Dillon and Andy Chan. We asked them why this book makes a difference.

"Prison book programs are a part of the broader fight to support people who are incarcerated. Such groups form when community members recognize a deprivation–in this case, a lack of access to information–and resolve to use their time and energy to help. This book is a collection of insights into the remarkable dedication that has sustained prison book programs for more than 50 years, using grassroots power to face off against prison systems and deliver countless books to incarcerated readers,” said long-time BtP board member Michelle Dillon. “The work of this community has had a deep and lasting impact, clearly reflected in these essays."

"The prison book movement is an archetypal grassroots phenomenon, born to address a very real societal need, developed and sustained by a host of small independent groups across the country. ”Books Through Bars” is an inspiring history but also a call to arms,” according to BtP president Andy Chan, one of four speakers who participated in an online panel discussion about the book and the movement on March 14. Watch the recording, courtesy of Haymarket Books.

"Books Through Bars: Stories from the Prison Books Movement" is now available through


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