The Books Behind Bars program is having a documentable impact on the University of Virginia students as well as the incarcerated youth from Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center. Both UVA students and incarcerated youth at Beaumont take the risk of moving outside of their intellectual and personal comfort zones. Together they work to build a community of mutual respect and trust, despite barriers of class and culture. Together, through discussion of great works of world literature, they change the way they listen, think, and respond as students and as individuals.
Tremendous Benefits for At-Risk Juveniles
By appreciating the hopes, fears, and struggles of literary characters, the incarcerated youth at Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center are learning more about their society and themselves, while developing the insights and tools needed to confront life’s challenges more thoughtfully, imaginatively and morally. For many Beaumont residents, the Books Behind Bars program is their first experience of being taken seriously as students and as individuals who have something of value to contribute to conversations about literature and life. Motivated by their experience in the program, several Beaumont alumni already have applied and been accepted to college, and are thereby poised to lead fulfilling lives of meaning, purpose, and achievement.
A Transformative Learning Experience for University Students
University of Virginia students who participate in the Books Behind Bars program benefit just as much as the incarcerated youth participants from Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center. UVA students have gained a deeper appreciation of the challenges facing troubled adolescents, and some have even begun to dedicate their careers to working with incarcerated and at-risk youth. The program is also giving them invaluable leadership and relationship skills, while at the same time revitalizing their love of literature. Books Behind Bars is showing them what is possible when young people of all backgrounds learn to think with both their heads and their hearts, appreciate diversity, and act intentionally on what they have learned for the benefit of the entire community.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BOOKS BEHIND BARS
How Our Program Is Changing Lives
Research on the Books Behind Bars Program
What the At-Risk Juveniles Are Saying
What the University Students Are Saying
Expansion Plans and How You Can Help