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On Wings Of Books

Elevating Books Is A Godsend

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There are books that shrink the best part of a person. They justify violence and domination of another. Books that diminish growth, human kindness, compassion and dignity may entertain, but they have no place in prisons and jails.

But there are books that lift, exalt, and contribute to the ascending process.

In Prison, availability of elevating books is a godsend to many.

Mr. Boone: 

“I love to learn; I get physically excited when I learn – giddy like a small child. I wake up excited when I have a new book, and I go to sleep anticipating the new day.”

                  

Mr. Charlie:

 “The worst punishment I could be forced to endure in prison would be for someone to take away my opportunities to learn new things, to read and grow mentally. Here, I can pick up a book and escape to somewhere better, become someone happier and freer for a time. Oftentimes, over the last 7 years or so, I have thought I was completely alone in here, like I had no one in the world. The way I have usually handled it was to turn to a book and try to lose myself in it. The characters in novels have been some of my best, and even my most exasperating companions. I’m selling my milks to get envelopes to communicate with you.”

                  

Ms. Maria: 

“When I was in jail for 195 days, I kept track of how many pages I read, and it came out to 59,647 pages – about a book a day. It is crazy how many books I read just to learn or visit other worlds. I have never felt more educated than I do now, and I already have my bachelor’s degree.”

Mr. Brian: 

“While incarcerated, I have had the opportunity to study Latin and read original texts by Caesar, Cicero, and more. I have had the opportunity to be removed from most of the stressors of daily life and found a love for books. I have read most of Shakespeare’s works, the Iliad and The Odyssey, countless books including my favorite, Les Misérables.”

                   

Mr. Ramiro: 

“I read the book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People three times before starting the assignment. Each time I discovered something new about myself. Sometimes I would break down and cry as the reality of my life came into focus. I’ve committed myself to applying the 7 Habits to my daily life. Again, thank you for providing courses so that I may discover my full potential that has been hidden all these years.”

                  

Mr. Justin: 

“In the desert that is prison, I’m a tree fending off a slow death of dehydration, and knowledge is a life-giving sip of water.”

Freedom Behind Bars

Early, in my work with prisoners, I discovered a large number of these women and men lacked uplifting role models and mentors in their lives.

 

A central book in PrisonEd has been Freedom Behind Bars: Mentors from Prison.

 

It tells the stories of sixteen high-profile men and women who spent time in prison, made it an elevating experience, and emerged to live victorious lives.

 

Below are some of the mentors in the book. They are people who reach out to lend an ascending hand. 

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Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela.  27 years in prison, used time as a “university” to prepare to be president of South Africa upon his release with the arduous task of uniting a deeply divided nation.

 

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  Story of Louis Zamperini’s WWII horrific experience as prisoner of war in a Japanese prison camp.  A story of his deterioration, personal victories, and finding the capacity to forgive. 

 

In Search of Identity, An Autobiography by Anwar Sadat.  Discovering his identity in Cell 54 of an Egyptian jail, his term as Egyptian president.

 

The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas K. Gandhi.  From being a painfully shy young man to leading India to independence using his only weapon of non-violence.

 

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.  Frankl’s penetrating story of survival and the lessons learned in a Nazi concentration camp. 

                 

Gandhi An Autobiography, Mohandas K. Gandhi

 

Additional recommended books that are part of the PrisonEd curriculum are found on the last page of this website.

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