Coming up over the next week or two we’re going to be featuring book recommendations from the Get Into Reading reading group at HM Prison Liverpool, known locally as Walton Prison. Here Wendy Kay describes her first contact with the prison and the inspiration behind the prison reading group.
The initial contact with Walton prison was through Liverpool Reads. The idea was that Liverpool Reads would supply a number of copies of Tamar and Keeper by Mal Peet for prisoners to read. Mal Peet then agreed to come and meet a number of reading groups who had read the books and have a question and answer session. Walton prison were keen to have Mal there and we really didn’t know what to expect in terms of numbers and interest.
We arrived at the prison and were shown to a room where approximately 40 men were sitting patiently waiting for us (we were 30 minutes late due to weather and security checks). From a personal perspective it was amazing the way that Mal talked about the novel and responded to incredibly perceptive questions about how and why he wrote, where he got his ideas and how much research was needed. Mal said it was one of the best sessions he had taken part in.
On the way out of the prison the prison librarian Stephen Jones and Carol Booth showed us the prison library. It’s a good facility, well used and with a selection of titles as wide as any public library. I noticed they had these little cards dotted around the library – like the things you see in Waterstones and Borders with a book recommendation on. It seemed as though the people who read the books there had views that could be shared with an audience wide of the prison and that’s why I asked if we could use them on the blog.
Posted by Wendy Kay
The Reader Magazine issue 31 is now available. Read more about it here.