Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Four Books Show the Power of Reading in Prison

book covers: The Sun Does Shine, Reading with Patrick, Law Man, A Lesson Before Dying

Our Banned Books Week post mentioned the severe restrictions on reading material in prisons. To show the other side, here are four inspirational books about the tremendous impact that access to books can have on prisoners' lives.

Anthony Ray Hinton, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice (2019). Publisher's page. The author started a reading group on death row, with the inmates passing around the few books they had. He was exonerated after 30 years on death row.

Michelle Kuo, Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship (2017). Publisher's page (includes audio excerpt). The author taught in the Mississippi Delta before going to Harvard Law School and returned when one of her students, Patrick, was incarcerated. Reading with him changed both of their lives. Follow her on Twitter @kuokuomich

Shon Hopwood, Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption (2012). After serving his prison term, the author eventually went to law school (UW Law '14), clerked for a federal judge, and now teaches at Georgetown Law as well as advocating for criminal justice reform. Follow him on Twitter @shonhopwood.

Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying (1993). Publisher's page. Prize-winning novel about a young teacher's relationship with a black youth condemned to death.

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