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Book Club Sparks Discussion of Emotional Issues
Date: July 27, 2015 02:20PM

Book Club Sparks Discussion of Emotional Issues

ABE Teacher Terry Butler and Librarian Brenda Peterson have teamed up to run a Book Study Group at Stanley Correctional Institution (Wisconsin). This intellectual study group serves the general population of inmates, many of whom are not currently enrolled within the schools education programs.

Ms. Butler searches for well-written books which tell good stories and provide diverse perspectives on a variety of life ambitions. Some of the novels teach personal responsibility, how to claim one’s own destiny, or how to reach a deeper understanding about personal experiences within our world.

After the book is selected, Ms. Peterson as Librarian works at acquiring multiple copies of the selected title through the Interlibrary Loan System. This process takes approximately 2-3 weeks. When the larger number of books has been received; the readers are called to the library to check them out using the regular institution rules for the Interlibrary Loan System.

The inmates in the study group are then given approximately two to three weeks to read the selected title. On the last training day of the month the group meets for 90 minutes of discussion. At the beginning of each study, the basic rules for discussion are clearly explained to all. The discussion operates with shared leadership; all are open and free to contribute to the discussion. Participants are also reminded to offer mutual respect to the others speaking and to keep their discussion to the selected book as much as possible.

These discussions bring forth many emotional issues, spark memories of personal triumphs and tragedies for those involved. The members share in discussion of the characters, the events, the challenges presented within the book. Here are some of their comments:

“What I learned from this book club is that even in this environment a group of men can find peace, joy, and be excited about literature. I also learned about others ideas, opinions, beliefs, and life experiences from the books and group discussions.”

“I liked the fact that you can have a different opinion and not be ridiculed or harshly scrutinized for it. Also it starts and nurtures positive relationships between inmates --- relationships that probably would not have started had it not been for the book club.”

“The book I enjoyed most was 'The House on Mango Street.' This book, written in the theme of a poem, made me recall vivid memories of my childhood and the neighborhood I grew up in.”

SCI Book Study Group's Most Recent Books:

The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien US Soldiers in Vietnam
Man’s Search for Meaning Victor Frankl Nazi Death Camp Survivor
Tortilla Curtain T.C. Boyle California Culture Clash
The Fire Next Time James Baldwin Racial Turbulence and Civil Rights
Farenheit 451 Ray Bradbury Classical Science Fiction Title
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Sherman Alexie Racial Obstacles & Reservation Life of a Spokane Indian
The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisernos Latina Growing up in Chicago in the 60’s
The Last Lecture Randy Pausch The Meaning of Life… (Facing Cancer)
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears Dinaw Mengestu Ethiopian Immigrants to DC in the 90’s

taken from DOC Intranet Website

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