Book Clubs for Inmates is a registered charity that organizes volunteer-led book clubs within both men’s and women’s federal penitentiaries across Canada. As of 2016, they run 26 book clubs inside 17 different penitentiaries in seven provinces.
BCFI runs French and English language book clubs for men and women incarcerated in minimum, medium, and maximum security facilities. Book clubs are usually made up of 10-18 members who meet once a month to discuss books, both fiction and non-fiction of literary merit.
Discussion is mediated by community volunteers, who guide conversation into themes such as identity, adversity, forgiveness, and resilience—and how these themes relate to the inmates’ lives. The book clubs encourage positive change through the power of literature.
The book clubs help inmates develop pro-social skills, such as respectful listening and speaking. And as inmates read and discuss literature, they also develop stronger reading and communication skills. All these together help them make meaningful life changes, and upon release reintegrate more successfully back into the community.