Group gives books to women in prison

March 31, 2011 3:33:00 PM PDT
Books are a hot commodity for incarcerated women, so a group of volunteers is doing its part to make sure they have something to read.

The group Chicago Books to Women in Prison spends Sunday afternoons reading letters from women who are behind bars.

"Individual women write specific requests and our address circulates around the country. We work with women who are incarcerated in nine different states," Megan Bernard, Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

Sometimes the women ask for specific titles, but other times the requests are more general -- romance, religion, or legal.

"Dictionaries and blank journals are the most common requests," Bernard said. Volunteers try to give each woman what she wants.

"We get a lot of thank you notes and a lot of blessings on us, you know that we are doing this. I don't feel that I'm doing such a great a thing, but there are women in the prisons that feel that way," Betsy Nore, volunteer, said.

The inmates are sent three books at a time -- all of which have been donated by previous readers. The volunteers can only send soft cover books to prisons. Any hardback books that are donated are sold online. Proceeds help pay for postage.

"Let the knowledge spread if you will. There's nothing like giving a book and having somebody else that can enjoy it, too," Andrew Krebs, volunteer, said.

Chicago Books to Women in Prison holds its annual fundraiser on April 15 at Las Manos Gallery from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Get the details on the event or find out how to donate books at