Imagine that you’ve just been released from prison. You struggle to read and you don’t have any qualifications. You’ve been out for a week and have spent that time trying to find a job. But no one is interested – not only do you have a record but you aren’t even confident at performing simple tasks that require some reading.

You can’t afford food, clothes, or basic accommodation. Without support from your family or friends, you find yourself slipping back into your old ways and it’s not long before you’re back inside.

Now imagine that you could help prisoners use their time in prison to improve their reading confidence so that they can find a job; that you could encourage them to make better choices in the future; and that you could help change their thinking so that they are less likely to re-offend.

I learnt to read in prison, and it turned my life around. I know more than anyone just how important these reading groups could be to someone inside. Supporting literacy is one of the best ways to improve social opportunity and to prevent reoffending.

John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue

Run a reading group and make a real difference to prisoners’ lives

I liked this book because it shows how change can happen and how you feel good doing the right thing. I like reading more now that I have read this book.

Prisoner, HMP Lewes

The book made me think how selfish I was towards other people and that I only thought of myself.

Prisoner, HMP Bure

How to run a reading group

Our reading group leaders work or volunteer in prisons and include librarians, chaplains, education officers, Prison Fellowship volunteers and other prison reading group volunteers.

We also provide books to organisations that work with ex-offenders in the community.

It’s easy to run a book group with Diffusion books:

  1. Talk to the prison governor, librarian, chaplain or education officer about the best time and place to run a book group. It works best if you can discuss a book over a few sessions as this gives readers time to reflect on the story.

  2. Read about Our books and choose which of the great stories you would like your book group to read and discuss. Remember to choose a book that will suit your group’s reading level: Diamonds are easier to read than Stars.

  3. Request books from us. We’ll send them to you quickly and if you’d like us to, we can also provide posters to advertise your group.

  4. Once you have the books, and you’ve got a group of readers who will benefit from reading them, you’re ready to go! Just use the questions at the end of each chapter to start a lively and thought-provoking discussion

Click here for hints and tips on how to get the best out of a reading group