Portland books to Prisoners

Who We Are

Portland Books To Prisoners is an all-volunteer collective working to distribute books free of charge to prisoners. We are dedicated to offering  people behind bars the opportunities for self-empowerment, education, and entertainment that reading provides.


Portland Books To Prisoners sends literature and educational books to people across the nation who are incarcerated.

What We Do

Incarcerated prisoners send us their requests for books directly. We attempt to furnish the requested materials from our stock of donated books.  We also sometimes send resource guides and periodicals to help prisoners locate a variety of services, and prison support groups.


Why Are We Doing This?

Prison libraries tend to very limited, and access to them is often highly restricted, so outside sources of books for prisoners is often necessary.  At most prisons there are very few books available, and often what is there consists mainly of low quality pulp fiction like romance novels and action thrillers. People are in prison for many reasons, but the vast majority are imprisoned for nonviolent crimes. There are dozens of Prison Book Programs all over the U.S. and there are often many restrictive regulations governing books sent to those behind bars, making it hard for those with limited means to send books to loved ones, or for those who are incarcerated to receive relevant reading material.


The U.S. currently has over 2 million people incarcerated in state and federal prisons, 2/3 of whom are people of color www.cccr.org. The Prison Industrial Complex is a repressive system, which we believe needs to be changed. One thing we can do to reach out to people held prisoner in this system is to provide a few books to help folks pass the time and try to educate themselves. Please join us in this effort!


Watch a short video by Seattle Books To Prisoners:




You Can Help!


Our group is looking for books with educational content: foreign language learning, materials in Spanish, radical fiction, poetry, music, trades, hobbies, crafts, business. We get a lot of requests for History/herstory, and biographies, especially African-American, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and queer studies, feminism, literature by and for women, and most importantly dictionaries, thesauruses and GED study guides.  We can take gently used and newish paperbacks and good quality hardbacks.  Due to rising Media Mail costs we can only accept books that are under 4lbs.    


  • Volunteer: Help us open letters, match up requests, and package books.

  • Donations: Other than the obvious need for postage funds to cover shipping costs, we are primarily looking for donations of books with educational content in English and Spanish.  
    Our most common requests are for dictionaries. 
    We are also looking for office supplies to print fliers, etc.
    Monetary donations are always appreciated!  
    For large donations, please contact us by e-mail first.


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