Oneworld has partnered with the charity Give a Book to encourage UK publishers to donate books to prison reading groups.
Inspired by The Prison Book Club by Oneworld author Ann Walmsley, which recounts the author's experience of participating in a book club in a men's prison, the initiative aims to secure donations of 200 books for prison reading groups.
Initially anxious about visiting a prison following a violent mugging, Walmsley signed up for 18 months with the book group and found it a "transformative experience" for herself and members of the club. She describes how classic works of fiction and non-fiction ranging from The Grapes of Wrath to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time became a springboard for discussion and a "prized" opportunity for the prisoners to "regain a sense of humanity".
Walmsley said: “Reading in prisons gives inmates a chance to run with a book club crowd when they get our, rather than their old crime crowd. You won’t find closer readers. And it’s a humanising experience to get lost in good literature.”
Victoria Gray, trustee and founder of Give a Book, said: "We are hugely grateful to Oneworld, publisher of Ann Walmsley’s The Prison Club, for rounding up donations of the books mentioned in her book for Prison Reading Groups—our thanks to them, and to 4th Estate, Vintage, Bloomsbury, Atlantic, Virago and Penguin for their generosity."
Give a Book is a registered charity that was set up in 2011 in memory of writer and playwright Simon Gray. It is the principal supplier of books to Prison Reading Groups which currently supports 37 groups in a variety of prison settings.