I started a book club in a prison

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
So this is a project in my days, now, and today was the first day.

I started this book club after talking to a theater teacher that is going to the prison here, in Las Palmas, teach theater to the inmates. I asked him if there was something in the prison with books, he told me no so I proposed myself to go and start something with books and my love of books and share this passion with them. For me a book can be a very extraordinary tool for an inmate, to many levels. When I had the yes from the director of the section there in the prison that have many activities to help the reinsertion for the inmates I started to organized the book club (be part of the book clubs in the isle, go to see for books, etc.). And today was my first day.

I have to say that I was a little nervous but everything went OK. I have a little group of 10 inmates between 25 to 50 years old. Some are there since many years, others are there from some months. Some read once in a while a book, one never read a book, another is obsessed by North Korea. What I found very interesting is this need, from them, to talk about feelings. They are not angels but they are in the reinsertion section so they want a change in their life. One of the reader is there from 11 years, he is the less angel of them. I don't know why they are in prison, a lot are there because of drugs, thief...

I wanted to make them read a novel by Stephen King, Misery, but I just had 10 books so I changed it for a little novel by Leonardo Sciascia, his last book before his death, "A very simple story", a detective novel about detective novels, just 80 pages. For the next week I have another detective novel by a writer from here, that has a very easy language.

The local where I give the class is very cute, with a lot of light. There is an old inmate that is the responsible of the others, and he is my helper for anything. I made them read to see their level, they read not bad at all. But their problem is that they have difficulty to understand maybe what they read. They will learn with me. :)

I am very happy with this project that make me be able to help others with the love of books.

Thank you to listen. Maybe some of you have experience with inmates, your advice, experience or not, will be very appreciate.
 

Marina9

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Hi loreta! This for me sounds like a great idea! I don't have lots to add. In regards to understanding some words, I think maybe it could be a good idea to have a dictionary with you also? And maybe one of them can be the responsible for looking up the words they don't understand, and writing these words down somewhere as a fun lesson: the words we learned today, or something he.. just an idea :)

Another idea that came up to my mind, is what about also suggesting they write something? Like after reading a book, they could do a little activity about writing I dunno, something about their life's or their experience in there..?

Just my 2 cents, and I hope all goes well with this new project loreta :)
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you Marina! The idea of the dictionnary is very good, I asked this morning to my "helper" to bring one next week. I will bring one in case he forgets... But to put the new words in some place is very good! I will propose this to the group. Also I think it is very good to make them write little paragraphs, maybe as a task. This is a very good advice Marina, thank you. I was thinking about writing, I think it is inseparable from reading. But it is not easy to write we know that. I will see what I can do.

Thank you Marina!
 

Chu

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
What a nice initiative, Loreta! :thup: You might also want to ask them what kinds of books/genres they might like, if you haven't done so already. That way, they may feel more enthusiasm. And there are probably lots of "word games" online, that you can look up. Simple exercises on creative writing, on reading and comprehension, etc.
 

Approaching Infinity

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Yeah, I agree with the others, loreta - great idea! Like Chu said, you could ask them what kind of stories they like, then come up with a reading list catering to their interests, making clear that it's a group thing so everyone won't necessarily be interested in all the books. And if you're not sure of what books to choose in certain genres, you can always ask here for recommendations on what may be appropriate.

How do the inmates acquire the books? Do they have to share a copy? Is there a source of funds to purchase multiple copies?
 

Laura

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
I think it is beautiful.

Let us know what kinds of books you want/need and we'll try to help. Probably wouldn't be a good idea to send funds to you because it would have to be explained to tax peeps, but if we start out by sending books, and then the authorities there like the idea, we could send funding via them to create a library or something if that sounds like a workable plan. Keep us posted and let us know what you need.
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Thank you very much for your comments!

Concerning the books, because I created a Book Club we are aloud to have books from the lot of the Book Club association of the Palmas de Gran Canaria. So the book I lend them today was part of this lot and I had 20 books. Every inmate has to have a book. The prison does not have money for photocopies nor to buy books. But hopefully the Book Club association have many books for all the Book Clubs of the isle. I will see next month, when the responsible of the association of the Clubs (that also works in one of the libraries of the capital), if he can buy books that we, animators, propose. I have one book in mind, Tardes con Margueritte (Afternoons in companie of Margueritte) by Marie-Sabine Roger. I saw the magnificent movie based on the book, ( La Tête en Friche by Jean Becker) a story about a friendship between an old woman that becomes friend with a man that does not know how to read very well. She, every afternoon in the park, opens up the marvelous world of books to this simple man who starts to change and evolve in his understanding of the world and of himself. I think this story is excellent for them, and we can see the movie also, after reading the book. I wanted to have a look at the library of the prison, to see how many books they have, etc. I will let you know how things go. Thank you so much for your encouragement and your proposition. We will see how this class evolve. :)

I think that the crystals, again, helped and gave me courage in a sort of way.
 

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Meg

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
That is really wonderful, Loreta. What great initiative. :D

I agree that finding out what they are interested in is a good idea. It will help you find some common interests and would keep them enthusiastic about what they are doing.

loreta said:
Thank you to listen. Maybe some of you have experience with inmates, your advice, experience or not, will be very appreciate.

I brought AA meetings to a similar facility on and off for a few years. Most people in those types of 'transitioning back programs' are sincere. Just be aware and be careful.

In the US, they provide volunteers with a handbook. If they provided you with one, it may have some cautionary advice on dealing with the inmates. Similar to this one: (see pages 15-17)

https://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/correction/attachments/volunteertrainingmanual2014.pdf

And here are some insights from a lady who volunteered at a prison for 6 months in the US:

https://byrslf.co/what-i-learned-volunteering-in-prison-for-6-months-e748e0c82589
Good luck and keep us updated! :read:
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Wow, thank you very much Menrva! this is very helpful. No, they did not give me any kind of consignes, nothing at all.

I was not afraid nor nervous to be there, in the middle of so many men. Strange enough, they are very gentle, and with good manners (open the door, let you enter before them, things that you see rarely in our real world.)

I gave them a sheet with some questions, the majority will want to read books in the category self-help. I don't think there is that type of book in the lot of the Clubs. But maybe some novels that are in that direction yes. I will see. And ask here if you think it is a good book. I was thinking about the book "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time". It is a book about a young boy that is Asperger. They will like to read adventure, some horror books like King, and one, a very special one :) books about North Korea.

Many many thanks Menrva!
 

loreta

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Laura said:
I think it is beautiful.

Let us know what kinds of books you want/need and we'll try to help. Probably wouldn't be a good idea to send funds to you because it would have to be explained to tax peeps, but if we start out by sending books, and then the authorities there like the idea, we could send funding via them to create a library or something if that sounds like a workable plan. Keep us posted and let us know what you need.

Thank you very much Laura for your words and your help. I am very grateful. I will let you know how things are going, how is the need. Let me see what they have as a library and how is the library and if we need books. As I say there is a lot for the Book Clubs.

Thank you.
 

Yas

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
This is really wonderful Loreta! I'm happy to read that the first meetings went well! And that you found the courage to do this. I can see that your love for books is great and to help others with something that you love so much is inspiring.

I haven't got an advice to add but I would very much appreciate to read about how this project continues. Keep it up! :thup:
 

SeekinTruth

Ambassador
Ambassador
FOTCM Member
Yup, what a great idea. I can understand your excitement, and share your love of books. Good luck, loreta.
 

hesperides

Dagobah Resident
FOTCM Member
As I already told you yesterday, I've been pretty concerned this last week about your decision to open a reader club in the prison. On one side, like all the forumers here, I found your courage quite admirable. On the other side, the fact I´ve been living in this island for so much time have made me quite aware of the way several social layers behave and think, and how they interact with each other.

What essentially makes me cringe knowing what you could expose yourself to is the HUDGE group of people who´re living in the street, so to say, because unlikely as it´s mostly the case for mainland cities, these kind of islanders can rely on other members of their own familllies or friends for occasional or mostly ongoing help when things are going mad. The wonderful climate through all the year, the beaches, the mix of many races, and most importantly, the middle-low class of tourism are all contributing to normalizing the abnormally high level of people who use their tricks to get their life as easygoing as possible. Of course, I´m not referring here to poor or defenseless people.

In short, I´ve known too many helpers living this nightmare, and how few protection they can expect from the police. I´ve also come to know myself how cunning these people are, and that´s why I feel compelled to tell you again to, please, be prudent, despite you know your group belongs to people who supposedly at least wants their reinsertion.

One more thing we discussed yesterday was the curious fact nobody checked your handbag, and also the man who was helping you isn´t an official of the prison, but a prisoner whom I assume has proven himself to be trustworthy. But still...

Besides of being maybe a little bit of a doomsayer, -better to prevent than cure as the saying goes-, I think that your first experience alone yesterday without safety net is priceless and I know how much it means to you, Loreta, my dear. Wish you all the best in your exciting experiment, to say the least.
 

SevenFeathers

Jedi Council Member
hesperides said:
As I already told you yesterday, I've been pretty concerned this last week about your decision to open a reader club in the prison. On one side, like all the forumers here, I found your courage quite admirable. On the other side, the fact I´ve been living in this island for so much time have made me quite aware of the way several social layers behave and think, and how they interact with each other.

What essentially makes me cringe knowing what you could expose yourself to is the HUDGE group of people who´re living in the street, so to say, because unlikely as it´s mostly the case for mainland cities, these kind of islanders can rely on other members of their own familllies or friends for occasional or mostly ongoing help when things are going mad. The wonderful climate through all the year, the beaches, the mix of many races, and most importantly, the middle-low class of tourism are all contributing to normalizing the abnormally high level of people who use their tricks to get their life as easygoing as possible. Of course, I´m not referring here to poor or defenseless people.

In short, I´ve known too many helpers living this nightmare, and how few protection they can expect from the police. I´ve also come to know myself how cunning these people are, and that´s why I feel compelled to tell you again to, please, be prudent, despite you know your group belongs to people who supposedly at least wants their reinsertion.

One more thing we discussed yesterday was the curious fact nobody checked your handbag, and also the man who was helping you isn´t an official of the prison, but a prisoner whom I assume has proven himself to be trustworthy. But still...

Besides of being maybe a little bit of a doomsayer, -better to prevent than cure as the saying goes-, I think that your first experience alone yesterday without safety net is priceless and I know how much it means to you, Loreta, my dear. Wish you all the best in your exciting experiment, to say the least.

I love what you are doing, Loreta. I am an avid book lover and think reading will be helpful to those prisoners. And I am glad that hesperides is looking out for you as well. Stay alert!
 
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