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Literacy news

Patrick DeWitt visits prisons to boost prisoners’ reading and writing skills

16 Apr 2014

In April 2014, US-based author Patrick DeWitt visited HMP Rye Hill, HMP Holloway and HMP Swaleside to support our Books Unlocked project. The project, run in partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation, encourages prisoners to become keen readers by offering them the chance to read and keep books from the Man Booker Prize shortlist.

Patrick met with a range of reading and writing enthusiasts during the visit, sharing writing tips and reading aloud from his bestselling book, The Sisters Brothers. In addition, he was interviewed by prisoners from HMP Brixton for the National Prison Radio’s award-winning Word Up project, which reaches up to 70,000 prisoners across the UK. As with other books on the scheme, The Sisters Brothers also featured on the station’s Book Club programme, allowing listeners to enjoy an audio version of the story.

Books Unlocked is currently running in 15 prisons, including three women’s prisons and HMYoI Brinsford, where the programme has been linked to other local community and educational organisations. Plans are being made to develop the programme further in 2014-15.

Patrick commented:

“Meeting with readers is invaluable, wherever it is, although I like to mix readings in bars with bookstores, but in prisons is where I’ve felt most useful, more needed. The idea that writing in my small room on the West Coast has lead me to so many different places, meeting different audiences enriches your life, it feels adventurous, a rare privilege that not many people get to experience.”

Tags: Adult literacy, Adults, Young People

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