Skip navigation to main content

Giving books in Wormwood Scrubs

Written by Lisa Spurgin, 19th June 2014
The first Book Room at Wormwood Scrubs, set up by Give A Book

The first Book Room at Wormwood Scrubs, set up by Give A Book

The debate on books in prisons is still a burning issue since months after the announcement of rules to ban prisoners from receiving books through the post. A petition to get the ban overturned - supported by The Reader Organisation - has received over 28,000 signatures, and there have been various campaigns, including the very active #booksforprisoners hashtag on Twitter which highlights the reformative power of literature.

Our work sharing reading in prisons and other criminal justice settings around the UK demonstrates how literature can have a massive impact on the lives of prisoners and ex-offenders. The sharing of personal experiences through books offers opportunities for prison reform, rehabilitation and prevention of further crime, as well as improving health and wellbeing, increasing confidence and providing the chance for self-reflection. Simply put, our work with people such as N shows what effect reading has on opening up prisoners' lives outside of their cells:

“You hear a lot of chat about people’s crimes in this place.  In this room we’re talking about other things, so many other things.  And we’re listening to each other.  I’ve learned that we’re all essentially the same.”

(Read N's story in full on our website)

Our friends from Give A Book, who facilitate the gifting of books to charities, organisations and people who need them the most, have recently set up a new Book Room in HMP Wormwood Scrubs. The room is designed to support the existing library within the prison, encouraging prisoners to read recreationally in an informal setting.

The Book Room has proved immensely popular since its opening, with an influx of donations of great literature from sources including Granta, English PEN and Cambridge Literary Festival. There has also been some great feedback from the prisoners on the wing, which you can read on the Give A Book blog.

There are plans to open a Book Room on all wings of the prison, and it's a fantastic initiative which The Reader Organisation wholeheartedly supports. Congratulations to all at Give A Book for the success of the Book Room and best of luck for it continuing!

You'll also find more about the subject of books in prisons in Issue 54 of The Reader magazine, which is out now. Writer and patron of The Reader Organisation Erwin James writes about how the power of a good book gave shape to a profound dream he had while he was in prison, and this issue's interview is with campaigning barrister and director of Just for Kids Law Shauneen Lambe, who speaks about her work with prisoners on death row in Louisiana.

You can buy your copy of The Reader magazine in Waterstones Liverpool One and a range of other stockists around the UK, or online via our website, where you'll also be able to purchase a year long subscription for the UK, abroad or institutions: http://www.thereader.org.uk/magazine

“You hear a lot of chat about people’s crimes in this place.  In this room we’re talking about other things, so many other things.  And we’re listening to each other.  I’ve learned that we’re all essentially the same.” - See more at: http://www.thereader.org.uk/reader-stories/reader-stories-greater-manchester-probation-trust.aspx#sthash.HWubm8yT.dpu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Calderstones

We’re opening our doors for another year of Big Days Out

We're getting ready for another year of Big Days Out in 2022.   The Big Days Out programme is an…

Read more
Calderstones

Vote for The Reader in the LCR Culture & Creativity Awards

We're delighted to be finalists in the Liverpool City Region Culture & Creativity Awards! The Reader has made the final…

Read more
The Reader Bookshelf

The Storybarn selects… from The Reader Bookshelf

As part of our ongoing work exploring texts from The Reader Bookshelf, we've asked members of our Children & Young People…

Contact us

Get in touch and be part of the story
You can also speak to us on: 0151 729 2200
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.