About Books Through Bars

We receive thousands of letters every year from prisoners requesting books…and saying thank you.
We receive thousands of letters every year from prisoners requesting books…and saying thank you.

Located Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Books Through Bars is an all-volunteer non-profit organization. We believe systemic social, educational, and economic inequality leads to relentless cycles of crime and mass incarceration. Our work aims to reverse the devastating effects that injustice and incarceration has on individuals, families and communities.

Our work is three-fold:

  1. Books: We distribute free books and educational materials to prisoners in seven states. We send them to anyone who asks, as long as their prison accepts books.
  2. Knowledge: The educational materials we send—often to people who otherwise have little no access to them—support prisoner education. This leads to critical personal growth and promotes successful community re-integration. In addition, we conduct innovative programs that encourage the public to think critically and engage in creative dialogue about imprisonment and the criminal justice system.
  3. Change: Our work fosters transformation within and outside prison walls. We receive hundreds of letters each year from prisoners telling us how the books they received changed them for the better. Program attendees tell us they walk away newly enlightened about the complexities of the issues we’re trying to address and the hurdles incarcerated people face. Volunteers say working at BTB changed their views about justice, equality, and incarcerated people.

Our work has directly impacted thousands of lives. Please learn more about us:

BTB history

Books Through Bars started with one guy who answered a letter from a prisoner asking for books. In 2010 we celebrated our 20th anniversary. Find out more >>

Our accomplishments and impact

From the hard numbers (How many books? How many people?) to the personal impact we’ve had on anyone who has sent or received books. Get the facts >>


Letters from prisoners, volunteers, donors and the public on how their interaction with BTB changed their minds and hearts. Read their words >>

News & Events

Find out what’s happening next at BTB. Participate! >>

Contact Us

Phone, email, address, etc. Dial up >>