Books Beyond Boundaries
What is our mission?
The mission of Books Beyond Boundaries (BBB) is to enrich the lives of incarcerated individuals through literature. We currently run two different programs to accomplish this mission.
The first is our "pairing program," through which we pair volunteers with an incarcerated individual who has expressed the desire to build relationships and grow intellectually through reading. BBB facilitates the connection between the volunteer and the reader through email and together, they choose a book and engage in a literary discussion of the book’s characters, themes, conflicts, and resolutions.
Our second program involves in-prisons workshops to facilitate group discussions and positive relationships among inmates. Incarcerated individuals who sign up for our workshop are sent a copy of The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. After reading the book, BBB holds a 2-day workshop in which we discuss the book's key themes including leadership, bravery, honor, hope, empathy, and success. During the workshop students are encouraged to develop practical ways to apply these themes to their own lives.
Why a book club program?
We believe that literature allows people to see things from different perspectives, thereby creating a greater capacity for compassion and personal growth. Many inmates yearn for a positive way to spend their time and often have little to no educational options. Our book club provides them with a specific goal that they can work towards (finishing a book), as well as practice communicating in a positive and thoughtful way (by emailing with our volunteers and/or attending our workshops). Simply looking forward to an email or a meeting can encourage a feeling of self-worth that fosters positive thinking. For both volunteers and readers, connection through literary discussion can be a true gift.
Interested in volunteering for our pairing program?
Books Beyond Boundaries is looking for interested volunteers to connect with readers located at correctional facilities around the country. As a volunteer, you are asked to:
Connect with your assigned reader via email and choose a book to read and discuss
Purchase the chosen book for yourself and your assigned reader
Email with your assigned reader at least once a week for a period of two months
While we ask that as a volunteer you commit to sending and discussing at least one book to your assigned reader, we hope that both volunteers and readers will want to continue their literary discussions and form a lasting relationship.
What does it cost to volunteer?
The only costs to you will be the cost of the book for yourself and your reader. While Corrlinks is a free system, you may choose to pay $6 annually for a premium version that allows you to easily send and receive messages via a phone app. Again, we do hope you choose to continue the relationship beyond one book, and continue to send books to your assigned reader.
How will BBB support volunteers?
When you volunteer, Books Beyond Boundaries will provide detailed instructions on how to connect with your assigned reader using Corrlinks, a monitored email system. Furthermore, while the topics to discuss will vary greatly depending on the chosen books, Books Beyond Boundaries will provide general guidance on how to conduct a thought-provoking literary discussion via email. Volunteers can also reach out to us if necessary for help researching and brainstorming possible discussion topics for specific books.
Do I have to provide personal information?
While we will ask for your full name, address and phone number for our record keeping purposes, we provide only your first name to your assigned reader. We also do not require or expect you to discuss topics other than your chosen book with your assigned reader. Of course, you may do so if you choose and many will find such discussions both enjoyable and rewarding.