Saturday, October 15, 2022

Help Build The Freedom Library For Prisoners


 I recently came across an interesting organization, Freedom Reads, that helps finance the building and stacking of prison libraries.  The curated collection consists of about 500 different titles, carefully curated by the group to make sure these books will inspire, enlighten, and inform The group also helps bring theater to prisons. Tens of thousands of books have been shipped to scores of prisons and juvenile detention centers in three dozen states. 

I encourage you to read the following excerpts from the organization’s site, and if you feel so moved, to provide them with assistance and donations.  

“Freedom Reads is a first-of-its-kind organization that empowers people through literature to
confront what prison does to the spirit. With the Freedom Library and with our literary programs,
Freedom Reads supports the efforts of people in prison to imagine new possibilities for their
lives. Freedom begins with a book.

“The libraries, the brainchild of 2021 MacArthur Fellow and Yale Law School graduate Reginald Dwayne Betts who was sentenced to nine years in prison at age 16, are spaces in prisons to encourage the full realization of self. The libraries are handcrafted out of wood and curved to contrast the straight lines and bars of prisons as well as to evoke Martin Luther King Jr.'s line about the "arc of the universe" bending "toward justice." Centering beauty and dignity, the Freedom Libraries seek to create a space in prisons to encourage community and the exploration of new possibilities.

“Founded by Reginald Dwayne Betts, who knows firsthand the dispiriting forces of prison, Freedom Reads works to empower people through literature to confront what prison does to the spirit. Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and inspired by the recognition that freedom begins with a book, Freedom Reads supports the efforts of people in prison to transform their lives through increased access to books and writers.

“Alone in solitary confinement, a teenager called out to the men in the hole with him:  "Somebody, send me a book!" Moments later, Dudley Randall's The Black Poets was slid under his cell door. Those pages, in that funky and desperate place, were the start of his own transformation to poet and lawyer and promoter of the rights of people still inside.

“Now, 23 years after his release from prison, Reginald Dwayne Betts and his team have built
Freedom Reads, a way to slide books like that one - books that open worlds and change lives
For 2022's Book Circles, we've partnered with National Book Foundation to curate a series of
National Book Award-honored titles, with support from the Art for Justice Fund. We kicked off
with Monster by Walter Dean Meyers and followed that with DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi.
Upcoming pairings include Edward P. Jones' Lost in the City with James McBride's The Good
Lord Bird and Gloria Naylor's The Women of Brewster Place with Deesha Philyaw's The Secret
Lives of Church Ladies.- to readers in prison across the country. 

“In partnership with wen, Freedom Reads nationwide Youth Book Club sends
500 copies of a select title to 50 juvenile detention centers each month. Our shared goal is to
increase access to meaningful and engaging books for incarcerated high school students;
encourage reading and honest dialogue around contemporary fiction that delves into issues that
young people in confinement face; and help expand these schools" libraries!” 

For more information, please consult:   

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About Brian Feinblum

Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2022. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.2 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past decade, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Susan RoAne, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, IBPA, Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:



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