an illustration depicts a stack of books with the top book open wide

The Alliance invites you and your organization to join us in our common reading series.

Since the early months of 2019, when the Alliance selected Danielle Sered’s "Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and A Road to Repair" as the inaugural title for the project, we have invited members of the Higher Education in Prison community to read along with us, using weekly sessions on social media and “book giveaways” to support participation. In 2020, we expanded the project in the hopes of bringing even more participants and programs into this reading community.

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As Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How To Be An Anti-Racist, recently explained to the New York Times, books have a special power to “dismantle the spurious legacies of our common upbringing.” And, Kendi continues, “We need to read books that are difficult or unorthodox, that don’t go down easily. Books that force us to confront our self-serving beliefs.” The Alliance shares these views, and wants to continue to use the Reading Project to similarly open opportunities for the higher education in prison community to learn and grow together, however difficult that work might be.

It is in this spirit that we are creating new ways to invite higher education in prison programs to join us in this work. By joining this project you and your staff will receive the following: 

  • Free copies of the books selected for the series. Books will be mailed directed to your organization’s office for your entire team.
  • Project Handbook. In addition to the free books, the Alliance will supply you with a very brief project handbook that will serve as your introduction to the program (featuring some tips and options on how to best engage it). 
  • Resource Packet. More, the Alliance will also provide a uniquely tailored set of materials to support your team’s reading. These materials may vary, but will always include a recommended reading schedule, a set of discussion prompts, a list of additional links and resources for you and your team to learn more.

Who Is Eligible? 

At this time, the Alliance only accepts applications for the Higher Education in Prison Reading Project from programs/organizations in the higher education in prison field, and ones that are interested in engaging this project with their staff (full- or part-time/paid or volunteer). Funding and logistical limitations, unfortunately, make it impossible to distribute books to individuals, instructors, advisory board members, students and/or other program participants that are not staff.* Organizations will be asked to request a specific number of titles in their request.

* Over time, the Alliance does hope to be able to expand the program in this direction. And as we do, it will also be conscious of the choices of titles so that they are able to be distributed to students in higher education in prison programs. 

How Does it Work?

  • Sign-up for the program (link at the bottom of the page)
  • Receive your free copies of the book

The Alliance recognizes that programs/organizations and readers will all use and approach the book in different ways, and so it attaches no additional requirements to programs selected as partners in the reading series. However, the Alliance does hope that organizations who participate will engage the books, and ideally both with the broader public, and internally with staff, as well as with the nation’s broader higher education in prison networks. There are many ways to do so effectively. The Alliance suggests: 

  • Hosting a book discussion for the full team
  • Allowing/enabling (provide paid time and space) for staff to read during the workday/workweek. For example, within the Alliance, we do encourage staff members to read materials of their choice related to the field of higher education in prison, for up to one hour during each work day.
  • Reach out! Once the series has moved onto its next title, do expect the Alliance to reach out and informally touch base on how the experience went. We’ll want to know how you the series worked for you, and hope that these conversations will help the series continue to grow and evolve in the future.
  • Read our fuller set of recommended strategies in the Higher Education in Prison Handbook to learn more. 

To date, the Higher Education in Prison Reading Project has featured:

2022 Series Titles
  • Abolition. Feminism. Now. - Angela Y. Davis, Gina Dent, Erica R. Meiners, and Beth E. Richie (current book)
2021 Series Titles
  • Carceral Capitalism - Jackie Wang
  • We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom - Bettina Love
2020 Series Titles
  • Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement - Angela Y. Davis
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing - Jesmyn Ward
  • City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion, and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles, 1771-1965 - Kelly Lytle Hernández
  • The New Jim Crow (10th Anniversary Edition, Featuring a New Preface) - Michelle Alexander
  • Solitary: Unbroken by Four Decades In Solitary Confinement: My Story of Transformation and Hope - Albert Woodfox
2019 Series Titles
  • Until We Reckon: Violence, Incarceration, and a Road to Repair - Danielle Sered
  • Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy - Tressie McMillan Cottom
  • Unequal Higher Education: Wealth, Status, and Student Opportunity - Barrett J. Taylor and Brendan Cantwell
  • Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A. - Danielle Allen
Sign up and Join the Higher Education in Prison Reading Project

Past Book Materials — The Reading Project Archives